Ramadan Gifts

Hayahjabi few ramadan decorations in a hostpital room with a ba 7e186b36 1452 4adc a7b9 9d7746d38998

We are all intimately aware that life does not always go as planned. But Allah (swt), after all, is the best of planners and the best of providers.

We did not know what to expect when our second daughter was born with obvious markings of a neural tube defect. We went from a low intervention birth to an X-ray within two hours of her arrival, and an MRI the next day. By the time we left the hospital three days later it was clear that she would require a major surgery. It was a time in our lives when we made countless visits to countless hospitals.

The few months between her birth and the operation—which would ever-so-delicately sever her spinal cord from where it was tethered to her vertebrae—passed by in a mix of bliss and anxiety. My love for her was so intense that while nursing her in the dark nights, I secretly wondered if Allah (swt) was squeezing a whole lifetime of love into these four months.

We were blurry-eyed and sleepless the morning we took our baby to the hospital. We would be there for five nights. This, as you may know, is an eternity in hospital time.

Previously I had thought about trust in Allah (swt) as a mostly mental or emotional paradigm shift. It’s a choice, after all, to see things differently and accept His plan for us. What lived experience quickly taught me is that our initial trust in His plan is followed by a waterfall of practical reliance. A million little tests will require us to rely on that trust, again and again. In a hospital setting, we must trust the medical staff on a practical and physical level, but what of our spirit? It is easily broken unless we consciously ground ourselves in that greater trust.

There was a small quilt in the pre-surgery crib to which my daughter was designated. It was blue with little hippos and giraffes on it and tied with equidistant bits of purple yarn. It followed us to the surgery, and back up to her room. I couldn't quite figure out why it kept coming with us everywhere we went. Someone eventually explained to me that it was made by a volunteer as part of a charitable group who donate handmade items of comfort for sick children.

It was a moment of pause for me, in a flurry of needs, noises, beeps and cords. The blanket was something tangible I was holding in my hands and yet it took me very much outside of my physical environment. I felt strangely looked after. I took a deep breath and hurried off to attend to the next thing that needed to be done. Changing bandages, lifting, adjusting wires and nursing. The blanket stayed with us all the while.

Subhanallah, by the time we left the hospital I truly treasured this funny little blanket.

Throughout her infancy—in which she recovered and surprised us with her resilience, alhamdulillah—we kept that blanket out for tummy time. In her childhood, it was a lap blanket on the couch, a cave for cuddles and creative, imaginary games. Today it is folded up with care in our closet—forever a reminder and a signpost of where we have been.

I don't want to forget all the lessons I learned in the early months of my daughter's life. This occasion, which to the outside world seemed like some of my darkest hours, actually taught me that when I truly rely upon Allah (swt), I am stronger than I ever imagined. Those days laid the groundwork to the most powerful spiritual awakening of my life.

And it came in the form of funny hippos and tangerine giraffes.

A "random" act of kindness provided a tender, surprising comfort - some warmth in the sterile coldness of hospital parenting. The blanket reminds me of that harrowing time and all the goodness and generosity Allah (swt) showered upon us by way of family and friends, and even someone we never met.

With Ramadan coming up, if you get the chance to give something from your very own hands, something you've invested some time in, please do it. Your gift is infinitely more than just sewing cloth or knitting stitches —take it from someone who knows.

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