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We Shall Reunite: A COVID-19 Story

| This is the 540th story of Our Life Logs® |

I used to always believe that everything happens for a good reason and that you have absolutely no control over it. I've always let fate take charge over my life, but when it came to death, I wanted so badly to be in control, just once. Loss does not discriminate. It comes for everyone eventually, leaving a hole left in your heart, soul, and life. But can one do anything about it? Of course not. I couldn’t, so, how could you? How could anyone?

My name is Saba. Forty-six years ago, I was born in Gujranwala, Pakistan,  to a loving family. While I dreamed of going abroad to do my bachelor’s and master’s, my father was just a government servant who couldn’t afford much, so I set that dream aside and prepared to marry. My parents never pressured me into getting married. In fact, I had a lot of freedom. My father was so kind and understanding, and I always treasured that. He was my role model, and I wanted a husband just like him. 

Luckily, that’s exactly what I got. Iftikhar was an amazing person, and I moved to Lahore with him when I was 24. He was a businessman and so life with him was comfortable in every aspect. Together we had a daughter then two sons. We were a happy and contented family, but our peace was shattered six years ago when a heart attack swooped in to take my husband away.

If I didn’t have my children there to show me love and support as we all mourned the loss, I don’t think I would have made it. I was especially close with my daughter, Asma. Asma was the eldest and a lovely child—so full of life with an intelligent mind built for exploration. She was at the top of her class and was very meticulous about her grades, working until projects and assignments were perfect. She was only 10 when she learned how to drive. Since she could always handle herself, I gave her the liberty to do what she wanted. I didn’t want to be one of those conservative parents who'd stop their daughters from living the life of their dreams. There was a curfew, but I never really forbade Asma from hanging out with friends. She was 21 and capable of taking care of herself.  

Like I once wanted, she had plans on going to abroad and achieving her higher education. Since Iftikhar had left us a good fortune, I was ready to support my daughter completely with her decision. I had high hopes for her, I saw myself in her. The same ambition, the same passion and the same nature. That day however never came.

On one chilly day in December 2019, she called me around 2 PM to tell me she’d be late for dinner because she going to a party with her friends. I agreed and told her to be back by 9 at the latest. Around 8 PM, she called to tell me she was about to leave the party. That was the last time we spoke. It grew later, and still Asma hadn’t returned. By 11pm, I was freaking out.

As I was brushing past the curtains to check for her silhouette and pacing the house, I received a phone call. I rushed to answer, expecting it to be Asma. But it wasn’t her. It was the hospital. Asma had met an accident on her way home and was in critical condition. It was a foggy night and hard to see, and her car had collided with a truck. When they told me, my heart skipped a beat and the world felt like it had stopped its rotation. No, not my girl.

My sons and I raced to the hospital to see Asma. The doctors told us she had multiple fractures and many internal injuries. I felt sick to my stomach to the possibility of losing her forever. As I stared at her body, I couldn’t help but blame myself for being too lenient, for not being there to protect her.

Asma was kept in the ICU for days. On the 15th day, she regained consciousness, but she was still in a terrible condition. She was pale, fragile, and hideous to look at. Broken. After another month at the hospital, she had recovered enough to come. But the joy of that news didn’t last for very long. Because not long after, COVID-19 had begun to sweep the world. 

After coming home, we kept my daughter on bedrest. Her immune system was severely damaged from the accident, and we barely let her out of the house.  When we first heard of the deadly virus, we totally confined Asma to her room and never let her out. Despite this, when the pandemic first began rearing its ugly head in Pakistan in 2020, it came for Asma. Being so at risk, she contracted the virus. 

Once she started showing symptoms, I got her tested.  The results and what came after happened so fast that I barely had a moment to catch my breath. She tested positive and was immediately admitted to the hospital. I wasn’t allowed to enter or even see her. The agony of knowing she was all alone clawed at me. She was still recovering from her other injuries, and now this. My soul still shivers when I think about the pain that she must have been in. 

As days passed by, she only got worse. Her immune system was dead, and her body wasn’t fighting. She was shifted onto a ventilator just on sixth day. I used to sit outside the hospital in my car for hours and hours, hoping that I’d get an update that my daughter had regained consciousness and was improving. That day didn’t come. 

Doctors told me on the tenth day that she had stopped responding at all. And once the ventilator shuts down, she’d be gone. I fainted upon hearing this. After that, I was just numb, not moving for hours. It took my sons screaming and crying for me to wake up to snap out of it. The pain was just too much. My little girl who already struggled to breathe, was now fighting to take a breath at all. Eventually, no more came at all. We don’t know how she caught it, but that doesn’t matter. What matters is that it came, and with a body too weak to fight it, she passed away. And a part of me had died with her.

 I screamed and cried that it should have been me that died. Asma still had so much to achieve and experience. I had thought that since she survived a fatal accident, she would definitely survive this. But I was wrong. I was so wrong.

We weren’t allowed to see her body or take her home. I honestly don’t know how to tell you what happened and what I felt at that time. I mean, what else would you expect from a mother who learns that she is unable to hold a funeral for her only daughter? I didn’t even get to touch her and love her for the last time. So, I think you can gauge how I was feeling.

Some wounds heal with time, some never do. This wound was the latter. I honestly didn’t think I would have the courage to tell my story because it’s too heart-breaking to relieve. I can still smell her around me, and when I do, tears stream my face that turn into deep sobs. I was one of many who lost their loved ones to this deadly pandemic, but what broke my heart about Asma was that I was just thinking I was going to get her back.

I can’t tell any more...I just know that a part of me died with her. The only sliver of hope was my other sons. I’ve lost so much in the last decade, but I still have my sons. They are the other half of me, and that is why I go on. 

We're taught to have patience when something like this happens, but how can a mother not grieve the death of her young daughter? It’s impossible. God took my most precious thing from me. It’s heart wrenching. My soul literally aches, but I know I shall meet her in paradise if God wills it.

 I so badly wanted to stop my daughter from experiencing any more pain, but it was not meant to happen that way.

I  hope my story helps those grieving, especially with a loss from COVID-19 that they’re not alone. The pain will never go away, but I must keep fighting. Maybe I do not feel like fighting today. Or tomorrow. I may not be able to lift my head up high for months, or even years. But when I think of my husband playing with my daughter up in heaven, I know that strength is on the horizon. And when it is within my grasp, I will take hold for the both of them. I must.

This is the story of Saba Iftikhar

Saba was still recovering from the loss of her husband when her daughter got into an accident that nearly stole her away too. She didn’t have much solace because her daughter got sick with COVID-19 and sadly passed away. Despite her devastation, she’s hopeful that one day she will meet her daughter. She advises that all those suffering from the same loss, maintain hope in seeing their loved ones again. 

This story first touched our hearts on September 18, 2020.

| Writer: Noor Pasha | Editor: Kristen Petronio |

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