One of my fondest memories of my maternal auntie Sanaa, who passed away yesterday, was observing as she and mom embraced, giggled and gossiped as they sat together upon reuniting following a separation of several years. You couldn’t interrupt their joy and intent focus on one another. It was as though I wasn’t in the room as they sat on my aunt’s bed holding hands and bursting into uproarious laughter, literally, every five minutes.

They shared stories and recounted events from years passed. They spoke as two souls who hadn’t been apart for a second, let alone five or six years. Their laughs came from somewhere in the depths of their bodies that can only be touched and activated by one’s sister. It was simply a beautiful and unfortunately rare site to see.

God’s tests for my late aunt were often trying: an early divorce, a lifelong struggle with asthma, arthritis and breast cancer. She endured with faith and persevered, always turning to God for comfort. May Allah rest her soul in peace and grant her Heaven.

As my mom’s elder sister returned to God– the ultimate destination of us all– I was once again reminded of how near, present and palpable death is. After losing my father, two paternal and two maternal uncles, as well as two aunts in the past few years, God bless their souls, I suppose the thought that my loved ones will pass away has become a central part of my consciousness. I wouldn’t say it scares me, but it reminds me to honour the important people in my life, to spend as much time as possible with them, always realising that our moments together are precious and — ultimately — temporary.

When you leave me in the grave –  say goodbye

Remember a grave is only a curtain for the paradise behind

Excerpt from Jalaluddin Rumi’s poem “When I Die”