Saturday, February 26, 2011


It was at the dinner after work. I was with some friends, and I don't know how it was started, but suddenly we were talking about the sakaratul maut

One of my friends told us that he had to witness the last minutes of his mother's life. It wasn’t until years after that that he realized, that it had left him with a trauma. The fact that he had been faced with the situation where someone meant a lot to him was in a critical condition, and he didn’t know what to do, has left him with a question that he has not been able to deal with until now: how could he be so ignorant and not realizing that the time was close for her mother. 

He said if he’d only known, he would’ve asked or led her mother to recite some prayers. If he had known, he'd stop searching for the signs of hope and would focus more on guiding his mother embracing her last moments. If he'd only known, he'd been able to help her went through her last minutes with grace.

I think all of us have our own ‘if only’ moments about losing our loved ones. Some of them are probably too devastating that we don’t want to share it with anyone. Most of the time, we don't face them and deal with them. We even refuse to consciously acknowledge them. But they're there. They live, in the darkest corner of our mind. 

My most devastating ‘if only’ story is quite similar with my friend's. 

I witnessed the last seconds of my father’s life. He died in my arms. I saw him taking his last breath. I still remember how it sounds. And I completely remember how I became absolutely calm and rational. The wheel in my mind effectively turned to process one information, one necessary, urgent information at that time: what to do after this. Starting with finding a doctor to confirm his death, letting the neighbours know so they can help me notifying the mosque so that the mosque can make an announcement, making phone calls to some close relatives, and, of course, arranging the chairs in the room before anyone come.

Years after that, those are the memories that I can recall. The shock after finding my father died, and the sudden switch of emotion. After that, everything was fast forwarded. And then it was life as usual.

I didn’t remember helping him saying his last pray, or anything of the sorts. I remember trying to find any signs that he was still alive. I remember trying to give him waters. I remember trying to feel the pulse in his hands. I remember the slowly creeping realization when I felt his feet were already cold. I remember when I finally closed his eyes with my fingers. 

And of course, I'd have to deal with my 'if only's. 

A few minutes before my father died, I was trying to avoid him. Simply because I was sleepy and not in the mood of talking to anyone. I was in my room and pretended I didn't hear him when he's knocking on my door, asking me to accompany him for dinner, a thing that, if I'd only pay more attention, was very unlikely to be expected from him.

If I'd only known that it was close, I'd be more behave. If I'd only realized that the time was near for him, I'd do something else. Anything else, instead of trying to bring him back to consciousness by giving him water. Not that I have any reliable and competent reference on that either. 

Thinking about it now, I consider myself (slightly) luckier than my friend. At the very last seconds when I realized that my father was in sakaratul maut, I managed to guide him to recite astaghfirullahal'adzim and tauhid. Were those the correct and proper prayers to recite for such occasion, I didn't know. I also didn't remember hearing him following and repeating what I said. I don't think he did. I just hoped that with the last amount of consciousness that he had left, he'd heard me. Somehow I thought that would be enough.

It's still a devastating moment for me. Losing your loved one always is. And it doesn't just fade away in times. Most of the time, it stays. Sometimes because it was a huge loss for you, sometimes because there's just too many if only's to deal with that it doesn't run out after years. 

Ten years have passed since my father died. And I'm not getting any wiser about it. I can accept the fact that his time had arrived and he's in better place now. But I can't stop thinking, even until now, that if only I could do things differently. 

There's this saying about don't take your loved ones for granted. A conversation with the friends I mentioned earlier had bring a whole new meaning to it. As usual, wise words are wise words and we understand the meaning and we understand the importance of the meaning. It's just that we don't understand it that much, not enough to actually do and committed to it, until something happen and the understanding was finally forced upon us.

I just wish that one day, when I have to lose the person I love, I'll be wiser. 

Pinggiran Jakarta, early in the morning


  1. Like most people who experience that 'last-moment-with-your-loved-one-scene', i'm still having my 'if only' moments now and then. And the interesting thing is you post this just before i publish a similar post.
    i guess our loved ones have been hovering around both of us at the same time. :D

  2. @Dame ah what a coincidence ya bu :)