Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Golden Oxblood

You know when I said I had a LOT of unpublished drafts, I wasn't kidding. After going through some of the drafts here, I found this one. Can you imagine that this has been waiting to be published since April 2015 and somehow I never just got the chance to publish it until now? I know, right. I'm trying to clear off all my backlog of unpublished drafts. We'll see how well that goes. :)

Anyways, I intended to share with you guys this lookpost of what I wore for my husband's birthday dinner earlier this year on the 5th of April. Gold is a very rich colour that not only attracts attention to it, but also elevates and brings out other colours worn with it. I wore this VIOLA Skirt in oxblood from aere which is also a very deep and rich colour. The gold shawl balances the oxblood very evenly. Since I was going out for a dinner, I chose to wear a deep maroon lipstick to go with the skirt. The skirt is one of my favourites as it has a lot of shape and heft, giving me a structured feel. There is also just a little subtle shine from the fabric, which is not too flashy, but not too dull either. When photos of it are taken with flash, it looks a bit shiny, but in real life the faux-leather effect is actually very subtle. I'm quite happy with how this skirt from aere's Blossoming of Grace collection turned out. (See Blossoms of Indigo and Pastel Blocks to see how I styled the VIOLA in other colours)

I've always been looking for a gold shawl,  so I decided to try this one from Chique Veils. Their shawls are mainly from Turkey. It's square though, so I had to figure out a different way to wear it than my normal rectangle shawls. I remember the last time I wore squared shawls was when I was in university and when I started chambering many, many years ago.  I quite liked the outcome. It looks very flowy.

I wore a neutral coloured top to tone down the look. My fav part of the Bishop Sleeve Crop Top in Nude by Maatin Shakir from Fashion Valet is the sleeves of course. I've always loved this kind of vintage look sleeves and it feels so comfortable wearing it. Since it's a cropped top, I wore a black spaghetti strap top inside. 

These pictures were captured quite late evening just before I went to dinner with the husband. Bless him for taking these photos on his birthday :p Hehe. Until my next post!


Saturday, July 25, 2015

Visiting Jibrael & Friends : Expect the Unexpected XVIII

When I finally had the strength and went to the grave with the husband, I didn't cry at all. In fact, I no longer felt anxious or nervous. When I arrived, I felt at peace and I smiled, because I felt that where I was at the moment was the closest that I can get to her. It felt surreal though, because every time I go to the grave, the surrounding is so peaceful and serene. It was not sunny, the weather was a little gloomy but just nice and redup. There were chickens too. Everything was suddenly in slow motion.

(Oh, by the way, this post is a continuation of my post Her Third Raya : Expect the Unexpected XVII where I shared how I've been feeling the days leading to Raya)

The hardest part was actually before going there. But when I arrived, it felt that a burden had been lifted. When we arrived at Jibrael's grave, I couldn't even look at her grave at first. I initially looked at her neighbours, smiled and saw that there were so many little babies that were buried around her. I saw twins too. Some small baby sized graves and some a bit longer than the others. I felt like: Ok, Jibrael has a lot of friends in heaven. And I'm pretty sure she has many friends over there. 

After awhile, I looked at her resting place. The place where her body was buried. 

We haven't done up Jibrael's grave yet. But when I see her neighbours, I felt that their graves look quite nice. Beautifully done up. This time around, there were actually small  little flowers growing on Jibrael's grave. 

I spoke about doing up her grave with the husband before. We've been talking about it for the longest time, every time after we visit or when a birthday or a day of a celebration (like raya) comes up. I mean, it's been more than two years. So I know that we should have done it a long time ago. But we still haven't, even though we've been there many times. I sometimes get angry at both of us for not having the strength to do it. It seems like it is the right thing to do but it's just so difficult. 

It's weird. 

I would've thought that a child would have to think about these things for their parents. Instead, I have to think about all these about my own child. My eldest daughter. As a parent, I should have been busy thinking about strollers, baby car seats, how to feed her, put her to sleep, her toys, her new clothes, playdates with her friends and other baby stuffs, not about her tombstone and grave. Right ? It doesn't seem natural. 

It's exhausting. Writing about this is also tiring. It's really heavy. Sometimes, I don't even know why I write this. But then I read a comment on a previous post also under Jibrael's tag, she said that I should share my feelings because it would help. And I've read comments from other mothers and mothers-to-be who asked me to keep on writing because it helps them too.

And even the counsellor that I met a few months after Jibrael's passing in 2013 also advised the same. As I'm writing this, I'm not sure if this is helping or not. I know nothing can bring her back. 

What I know and believe is this: When my husband was praying while we were at Jibrael's grave, I understood that. Yes. Nothing can bring her back here. I accept that for the moment I found out she left this world. But, the most important thing is that she is definitely having a great and wonderful time in heaven. Yes there is a lot of pain and heartbreak for us who's longing for her and missing her in this world. That is the price we pay for love. But we live in a world where pain and heartbreaks exist. She is not experiencing any of those. And that is inspiring. It inspires me to strive to go to that place where no pain and heartbreak exists when my time in this world is up.

I took a photo of her grave and her neighbours' grave for my memories sake. I find it beautiful. 

I wanted to post it on my IG that day. But, I stopped myself because I realise that what I see as beautiful might not be beautiful for others. Just like art, a photo is also very subjective. Different people see it differently. I know I shouldn't be thinking of what others think and just do whatever I like or feel right but I stopped because I wondered. And to be honest, I also fear sympathy or pity comments. Because when I share it's just me sharing what I feel beautiful. I can't share photos of her so I just share photos which for me bring good and beautiful memories of her. 

I thought: when people look at this photo, probably people will look at it as a negative thing. As though its a sad thing although it is something that they are uncomfortable or fear. Because it reminds people of death... For me, however, it reminds me of her life. It reminds me of her existence. So, that's the difference of perspective that which I have come to realize. 

Let me tell you one thing, yes, the bodies of these children are buried here, but their souls are actually roaming free in heaven. People might pity these children who died at a very young age and pity their parents. But these children struggled and fought for their lives.  Their soul is so pure and without sin. So much so that God rewarded them with Heaven. God is Great. Subhanallah. 

They say a picture speaks a thousand words, but sometimes, I feel that a picture is just an illusion. What you may see as sad (reminders of little children being buried), is actually happiness on the part of their souls because they are at a place where its beauty cannot be described and is beyond our imagination. We can't see that. We only can see what's in front of us. We can't see a lot of things that exists but I am blessed to have a child in heaven and truly believe that she's there. We must have absolute faith. Of course there are moments where I falter, or break, or become weak but God has blessed me in a way that I'm able to rise back up when the unexpected happens so far. Alhamdulillah. 

One of my best friends once told me that I am so lucky and blessed because I have a child in heaven. It is a goal for each parent to raise their children to be the best that they can be and the best of the best are those who would be granted heaven. And Jibrael has been promised heaven. Once a mother, always a mother and the sacrifices will not end until the end of time.

Anyways, 3 years and 3 Rayas ago, in 2012, I fasted the entire month and only found out three days before Raya that I was carrying Jibrael. It was such a beautiful experience.  This year, both my husband and I thought that history would be repeating itself. I allowed myself to believe that I was carrying Jibrael's little sibling. As much as I was frustrated and devastated when I couldn't fast towards the end of Ramadhan this year, I know that His timing and His Plans are better than my own wants. Of course, I accept that Jibrael is gone, but I'm still struggling to deal with the aftermath. Moments like this, trigger emotions and feelings. Especially when facing everyone.

Of course, most of the time if we feel it or there's an unexpected trigger, both me and my husband will talk about this with each other because it is easier to talk with someone who is in the same boat. Other people may not notice it, but he grieves too. Because when I talk sometimes it doesn't really come out. I guess I did need this to be written to get it off my chest. It's not for others but for my own self. Because when I re-read all my previous posts about my daughter, then it slightly soothes my aching and also serves as a reminder to myself. Sometimes I just need to reorganise my thoughts. Especially when the triggers kick in to overwhelm me. I guess, what my readers commented in my previous posts and what my abovementioned counsellor told were right. Writing does help. And if my readers find it beneficial too, especially other parents, that will be a bonus too and I'll be glad to know...

I'm sure Raya and other celebrations are always bittersweet for people who have suffered childloss or the loss of someone they really love. I know because I've been feeling it ever since I lost Jibrael as well as my grandparents. May Allah grant us the strength and patience to pull through and may we re-unite beautifully with our loved ones in Heaven. May they inspire us to strive for heaven and become better individuals. One step at a time. Of course, loss teaches us to be more thankful and grateful of what we currently have. We have been blessed with the gift of life and we should make the best of what is given. 

Life is short and my daughter Jibrael taught me that and I really have to learn it the hard way. She lived for 12 hours after she was born and of course she also lived inside of me. The departed children have been rewarded with heaven for their suffering at a very tender age here on this Earth. (Even we as adults are afraid of death, can we imagine how the babies and little kids must have felt...? I can't imagine the pain that the have to go through in this world when they were fighting for life) 

As Muslims, we must believe in the hereafter and strive for that. If not for the loss of Jibrael, I may not be able to realise all of this. I might be able to say it, but not be able to truly feel it. It's not that easy for me to explain how I feel. She's no longer here. But she's the one person who taught me the most about life. She's an amazing teacher. It's a little ironic, if I think about it.

All praises to the Creator for blessing me with one of the best gifts in my life, my child in heaven, my eldest daughter : Putri Jibrael Zumirrah. Continuous Al-Fatihah tak putus for her and her friends in heaven. May we all get to meet this children of heaven, one sweet day.

Below are images I captured when I visited my daughter Jibrael and her friends. A beautiful view in my eyes. The closest earthly view I can have of Jibrael and some of her friends in heaven. Where she really is, is beautiful beyond imagination and can't be seen by our limited senses and mind. 

All praises to the Most Loving, Most Merciful, our Creator to whom we belong and will all return.


Friday, July 24, 2015

Her Third Raya : Expect the Unexpected XVII

Selamat Hari Raya everyone.

Where did you spend your Raya holidays?

I didn't expect it, but when I was asked this question many, many times, I found myself pausing and in a daze. It's such an easy, innocent question, but it hit me hard. I only realised how difficult it was to answer this question when I was asked during an interview for a magazine. I stopped and I couldn't answer it at all.

The reason why I couldn't answer it was because I suddenly realised when I was suddenly asked that question, in my mind I was thinking: When will I be visiting Jibrael's grave? But at the same time, I couldn't say it out. Of course, people mean well when they ask this question. But I was afraid to talk about it because I was afraid of people's reactions if I had actually expressed what was on my mind at that time.

I was scared of the look that's sure to come after I mention my daughter's name. It's either the "uncomfortable" look or the look of pity or sympathy, or even the tears on someone else's eye. That is not how I want people to remember my beautiful daughter. It's painful to see those looks even though I know in my heart that they mean well. So through the years I've learned to contain my feelings. So, I just say: "Oh yeah, I'm raya-ing in Kuala Lumpur and will be going to Ipoh to visit my Atok on the second day of Raya" but the truth is, I always pause and need to compose myself. Flashbacks and images replay in my head when it happens. Sometimes I stutter when I answer, and sometimes when the words don't come out, I just smile. Or I'll try to  avoid the question or deflect the question by pretending not to hear it and ask the person who's asking where they are going. But it was all overwhelming.

One day, I was in the surau with some friends. And then, suddenly I myself had the courage to ask the innocent question which I myself feared. I asked : "Are you excited for Raya?" And then a friend of mine said: "no". Even though it's not the answer that everyone expected for Raya (it's Raya everyone is supposed to be excited!) but somehow I felt relieved. Because someone else was feeling the same thing I did. The only thing was that I was afraid to admit it. I was afraid to admit that I was not looking forward to Raya because something feels missing. That, and the fact that Ramadhan, the fasting month is ending.

I then asked another friend : "You beraya kat mana? (Where are you going for Raya?)". Then after she answered, I suddenly opened up. I told her that I was planning to go to Jibrael's grave the day before Raya. Then I would visit my grandmother's grave and usually the night before Raya, we will gather at my aunt's house where my grandmother used to live. My grandmother passed away 2 years ago when I was in the hospital carrying Jibrael. I couldn't see her one last time or pay my last respects to her when she passed away so her passing also affected me very deeply. The last time I saw her I told her I was pregnant with my daughter. We still make it a point to gather at my aunt's place.

Anyway, I've wanted to share how I feel for the longest time, but somehow it's easier for me to share about my work rather than my personal feelings. And to be honest, I actually wanted to blog every day for the past week. Talking about it is even more difficult than writing. I have so many contents in my drafts and folders that I want to share here. But I just couldn't, because I had this mental block. I couldn't write about anything else until I wrote about how I feel, not having Jibrael here with me. I just couldn't. I did posted a lot on Instagram though. I just had to to battle and struggle against the blocks and emotions.

Like I said earlier, I've actually planned to go and visit Jibrael and my Grandmother's graves on the day before Raya, Thursday last week. I also planned to run some last-minute errands. It turned out, the day before Raya, that I couldn't bring myself to get up and go. It was just so difficult. I still can't understand it, until today. I was just so confident the day before that I would be able to go with the husband. But on the day itself, both of us just couldn't. It came to a point where I broke down when I least expected it. I didn't go.

The reason I was so confident that I could bring myself to go was because on the first Raya without Jibrael in 2013, I went on the morning of Raya itself. The year after, in 2014, I actually went the day before which I felt was a good thing because I could focus more on my family and relatives on the first day of Raya. So, since I was able to do it last year, I thought this year was going to be easier. Wow, was I wrong.

It's weird that I started blogging about expecting the unexpected (read : Expect the Unexpected) but I myself most often forget to expect the unexpected. What I felt on that day, how I couldn't even bring myself to go was totally unexpected. I spent the whole day at home, didn't have the strength to go out and at the end of the day I felt bad that I couldn't go. I started to blame myself. I felt that I didn't want to go out at all that whole day, but then I promised my family and relatives that I would be at my aunt's house. They had a theme and prepared a lot of food for the last berbuka puasa. It was a family tradition since I was little so I pushed myself and went. The husband and I arrived really late though. Initially, I didn't feel the joy or celebration at all. I didn't even want to take photos.

But at the end of the day, after talking with my family, catching up with relatives, playing with my nieces and nephews I felt much much better. I tried my best to do what we do best together as a family. I really am blessed to have wonderful family members and relatives who's been so supportive and non-judgmental towards what I've been going through especially the past few years.

Fast forward to the next day, last Friday, Khubayb and I didn't talk about going to the grave, but in the afternoon of the first day of Raya or Syawal, we were both mentally and emotionally drained from the day before and there were just so many triggers and I was just so emotional on that day. But I tried myself not to breakdown. I didn't. In the afternoon of the first day of Raya, I told the husband that I want to go. He thought that I wasn't ready, that's why he didn't mention it. So we went.

I snapped this when we visited Jibrael's grave on 12th April 2015. 
I blogged about it in my post Second in Heaven : The Supposed Special Day but I couldn't share this photo when I blogged about it earlier.

There's something about going though, it feels so surreal. On the way to the grave yard, I couldn't even look up. I wrote a post on Instagram. The post I shared with its caption below. The fact that I couldn't share a photo of her, or I couldn't plan for the clothes she was going to wear, or I couldn't collect duit raya for her like other mothers do is in itself heart breaking. Everytime I heard other parents planning for their children for Raya I'm happy for them  but in my heart and mind I wonder what it would be like if she's here. Instead of planning where to get her clothes and other stuffs, I had to think about: "When do I go to the grave. What do I do? How do I make her grave prettier" So it's weird. It feels like the photos that I take with my husband on that day, it's incomplete. It's as if we're supposed to hold her in the middle. But Alhamdulillah, we have each other. Without the love that we have for each other we wouldn't have been able to be blessed with our child in heaven. And I know that we have to be strong because she's having the best of celebrations where she resides, the place beautiful beyond imagination, heaven. We just have to be patient till we get to meet her again, one sweet day.

"Our family portrait. Another raya without you. Imagining you'll be wearing pink and yellow too today. :) But I'm pretty sure the children in heaven wears the best clothes that we on earth can't even begin to imagine ♡ You're too beautiful for earth and today Abah @kneok and Mama miss you even more than the normal days. It pains me that you're not here but I know that we both have to be patient and be strong till we meet again. You're in our hearts and mind, always. Till we reunite again one sweet day. InsyaAllah with your younger siblings too. We miss you so much Putri Jibrael Zumirrah. Al-Fatihah.  #strength4jibrael #akarnsLOVE"

All praises to the Almighty for granting me the strength to start and share my feelings which I have been containing for quite some time. All praises to Him the Most Loving who has blessed me with my daughter in heaven who has taught me more about life than anyone in this world has. Alhamdulillah.

I started to write this blogpost since last night but I've thought about it since the days before Raya. Wow, it's already quite a long post and I haven't even shared on my feelings when I visited her. I'll do that in my next post, God Willing.