The Gift of Soup

Do you remember reading the series Chicken Soup for the Soul?

Well, this week has been a full of literal chicken soup and mostly take out from my favorite restaurant Rose’s Pizza in Edison.

The Spiral of Sickness

In the beginning, only the four year old was sick. For almost a month, he coughed and coughed until he vomited and peed in his bed, and I did 100 loads of laundry trying to mother him back to health.

Then my husband caught his illness. He carried on almost exactly how he does. He did everything, went everywhere he needed to go, and never complained about anything. He saw the doctor on Monday, took his medicine and was back to business the same day.

Then I got sick.

It was like a house of cards, falling.

Last Friday, October 21 we went to visit my parents.

My little one coughed most of the night. It could be the allergens. The heat. I began coughing and couldn’t stop. I gave up on the little one, gave him to my husband and tried to go to sleep myself, with cough drops stuffed in my cheeks like a chipmunk.

My Ma made a huge pot of my favorite garlic daal, two huge containers of thai soup, plus food for several days. I only told her that morning that I was coming, but my parents made sure we were well fed for several days. I brought so much food from her house, even frozen items from her freezer made it to my freezer because my Ma insisted that I did not have meat in my fridge. I felt cared for and loved by my parents, alhamdullilah. They are the first source of safety and love.

That next night October 22, after a 2.5 hour drive home, we went to a 15 year old’s birthday party. I wore a mask. But surrounded by mostly doctor-friends, I looked ridiculous in a mask, when they literally see dying people all the time. So I took off my mask, enjoying a beautiful spread of Turkish food, icecream cake, and homemade halwa with my friend and her big beautiful family. My husband led a program for the youth, and sang nasheeds. As he sang, my son sang sura ikhlas, and my heart was so full. The birthday boy himself was the coolest 15 year old (boy) I’ve ever met. He greeted all of his parents guests, played with my 4 year old, and sat with the everyone during the discussion. His mama (and dad) raised him with impeccable manners. It gave me hope in the next generation, which based on my fascination of YA literature is not very high.

Also I learned so much from the women in that room — some really funny and successful women– about things that they do like the beloved Prophet. How they connect their work to the Prophet SWS. This was such a unique halaqa group and discussion, I wanted to remember it here.

And I was floored. One of my friends (the host) works 40-80 hours (I have no idea really but this is my ballpark) and then takes care of every meticulous detail of her home. She connected this incredible work ethic to the Prophet Muhammad because he worked all morning, spent time with his family in the evenings, and then spent time with the Creator all night during his prayers. Who among us has a work ethic like that? But at least we all aspire for that kind of service to our clients, our families and our community.

The Cough Does Not Stop. It Won’t Stop.

After almost a week of the coughing, today, seven days after the cough appeared, I went to get checked out by my friend doctor. I asked her all the questions I had been holding up. She gave me all the answers. I felt well cared for. She alleviated my concerns.

Sorta like having chicken soup for the body and mind.

Then, another friend Sobia called me to say she’s bringing me chicken soup.

Literally, she made chicken soup. She homeschools 3 kids –including a very active toddler — and she made time to make extra soup for my family. This is the beloved community.

I could not believe it.

I told her I’m 5 min from her house, I can pick it up, no need to come to me.

I literally had another bowl of chicken soup, this time physical. I picked up some naan to go with the chicken soup, and viola — dinner! (I also made lasgna, keema, and yakhni later today).

My mother in law — who rarely inquires as that is not her temperament–said “I got the kids, go rest.” This I took as a huge gift, and sign of her love. And my kids were so happy to spend a full day with their grandparents. They were off from school. Because of her offer, I had time to write this! I picked up groceries, medicine, and my kids eventually. I managed to write a job application, and cook a bunch of things because my friends were visiting the next day.

The Symbol of Chicken Soup

I did not ask God for chicken soup, but I do ask Him for sustenance.

I have no idea how we are surviving all these years, without me working full time, and I have no idea where abundance comes from in a material sense. There is no physical explanation. There is some kind of safety net — the caring adults in my life, friends, businesses that the family own, schools, health care itself, health insurance, muslim-owned businesses like Rose’s with nourishing food–that make it possible to be healthy again.

In a week of illness, the fact that not one but multiple people on this earth cared about me, about my health and well-being, brought so much tears to my eyes.

The Miracle of Today

Today, I spoke to my mother, my father, my friend Laila and Nura, my doctor Nadia, my friend Sobia and her kids, my friend Umaimah about her upcoming birthday, Nusaima who works at the restaurant, the pharmacist at CVS, my kids, and even my husband’s widowed aunt who I call on Fridays. It felt like a robust day because these were conversations with real intent, and impact. I am grateful to each person I spoke to, and each person who prayed for us, and asked about my family. I am grateful for all the blessed company and the community workers too, who make our lives manageable.

I felt cared for in my heart, mind, and spirit by people in my community.

I was appreciative of all the things that make it possible for me to continue to work on things that are important to me, and support my kids and family during a week that was physically very draining. All praise to Ya Latif.

This is sorta what my chicken soup looks like:

Photo by Istvan Szabo on

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