The Cemetery on Eid Day


On the beautiful day of Eid ul Fitr, marking the end of Ramadan, I went to the cemetery with my family.

We went to the morning prayers, ate ice cream and sweets, took family photos, visited relatives throughout the day, and I even got a fabulous photo with my coop sisters who I had the pleasure of seeing on Eid Day.

That’s actually a first.

Seeing my sisters on Eid day.

For years, my family is dispersed across multiple masjids, and even within the same household, father and sons choose to go at different times to different services. But somehow, 4 women and their husbands and gaggle of kids made it to the same salaat and we got to take a group photo. I think it had to do with the fact that this was the latest timing for the tri-state area. As a young adult, my mother was scrupulous with time, and if I was late, she would simply leave me to attend the services on my own. (In the photo -there are more moms, but I want to be mindful of any child’s photo so I had to crop. )

I wrote about our coop here. But more importantly these women are also my neighbors, and have invested time in reading with me, and helping me achieve my goals. It is extraordinary to feel supported like that.

I visited my dear friend who is resting in the grave.

I wrote about him because he had a profound impact on me as a human being.

Our family sat on the drying grass of Greenwood Cemetery, facing his grave from the side. I had some roses in my car that my son tried to plant into the ground. My husband sang Sohaib’s favorite songs and recited from the Book.

I wept.

I regretted that I didn’t attend the funeral last year.

At the time, I was taught to never bring children near death or places of death, so I had no idea that it was even something people did. I did not attend the funeral out of my own pathetic fear. In fact, I watched it on youtube.

My brother in law organized parts of the funeral and spoke; my husband was in attendance, of course. Most of my friends showed up.

But I was missing. I was scared. I had seen Sohaib in his house just a few weeks prior to his death, and the light of his voice, and the deep care he had for my children was astounding. I remember how fondly he showed our kids the turtles. He asked me and my husband to do something for him when he left.

And I feel like I had failed to keep that promise.

My husband and I are the sanguines, the party-makers and goers.

There was not a single night the last 10 nights that we were home, having dinner at home. Wherever we were invited, we went. And many times I wondered how can I extend the invitation to my friend, who is a widow? Her kid has school, and they live far away. How can we do something together? I could not figure out the logistics of it since I cannot plan my way out of my driveway. And so I failed to see her during this blessed month.

I failed many times at many things this Ramadan.

And breaking a promise to my dead friend felt like the gravest of sins. I told his soul in my heart that I was sorry I didn’t carry though on what he asked. I hung out only twice in a year , when in fact, I could have hung out A LOT MORE.

So on Eid, I sat in the cemetery and cried about failing as a human being who does not keep her promises. I borrow things and forget to return them. People leave things in my house and I forget who it belongs to. I am not scrupulous with stuff. Probably the exact opposite. If someone liked something in my house, I’d wrap it up and give it to them the next time I see them. I don’t have attachments to any stuff at all. Maybe except my car, I would probably let someone take it if they liked it enough.

Anyway, I promise to keep my promises to the dead, to be more scrupulous with stuff that doesn’t belong to me (which is like everything on a metaphysical level).

This Ramadan, instead of saying no to every invitation without telling my husband, I actually said yes. I finally got a wall calendar which he has been insisting on for a long time. We have it hanging on the wall, so he can put things into a calendar each week. (I also got the calendar 80% off which is a win). And we did things that were way beyond our comfort zone. I pushed myself to fast from literature and fiction in particular, and I honestly don’t miss the mindless stuff I read. (I do miss my kids’ literature however). I pushed myself to read more of the Quran than I have in some time. I stayed in a masjid which I grew up believing was a man’s space. In fact, one time me and my friends were IN the masjid while men were doing itikaf. How extraordinary. How upside down.

All these little changes, maybe they will add up to something bigger.

Auntie’s amazing dessert spread, all homemade goodies.

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