Faith & Values
Time is the greatest gift we have because every day we live brings us closer to our last.
Most of us will never get to know how much time we have left on this Earth. But knowing, strange as it may sound, may actually be a blessing, providing the chance we may need to fulfill missed opportunities toward our loved ones, relatives and friends.
In much the same way, knowing that a loved one’s time may be ending can actually be a gift, one that leads us to an even deeper appreciation for our loved one, the time we have together and how much the person has blessed our life, and giving our life a greater purpose.
Eight years ago, my wife was diagnosed with an incurable, debilitating medical condition. Most days she is reduced to sitting or bed rest, in serious physical pain and with respiratory issues.
Even in her constant pain, she has devoted her every waking minute to being more loving to each member of our family. Her actions have inspired me to be an even more loving husband, father and son.
She says worrying about tomorrow is a waste of time, that each day is a gift. From her bedside, she reads with our children and helps them with homework; sometimes they just lie together talking. Her bedroom has become a family room.
She hated the side effects of her medications, so instead each morning I churn out four unique fresh juices known to help, which make her feel better. I cook, clean and help out more, inspired to be a better partner.
The love she gives us all is reflected in the happiness that fills our home today. She never takes anything for granted, happy just to be alive, thankful for family, and praying to God for the time needed to fulfill her motherly commitments.
Together, we are all more thankful to the creator who has given us so much: time, our lives together, and the people we love and who love us, letting us all know how important we are to one another.
My wife and I recently had that most difficult of all conversations. You know, the one you’re supposed to have at home with your family, before one of you is in the ICU, about how you want to approach death and what to do at that time.
We spend so much time planning out our lives down to the smallest detail. Why avoid talking about how we want it to end? Death is inevitable, and talking about it won’t kill us.
That conversation brought us even closer together, bringing us a sense of relief and closer to a reality we now embrace as inevitable.
Talking about death with our children once seemed unthinkable, but we have come to embrace that, too, as the new normal. Our children in turn have become even more loving and thankful, with a greater appreciation of our faith, Islam.
Living life with true purpose and meaning doesn’t have to begin when you find out you’re dying. The Prophet Muhammad said: “Work for the affairs of the world as if you were going to live forever but work for the Hereafter as though you will die tomorrow.”
Let us all recognize the incredible people and gifts all around us and learn how to be better listeners. Time can either take that ability away from us or make us better at it, able to give our loved ones our full attention.
Each day, I take the time to look carefully into the eyes of my wife and family members, recognizing they have incredible stories to be told, which has deepened my gratitude for our time together.
Don’t wait until tomorrow to do something nice that could make the world a better place today.
Aziz Junejo is host of “Focus on Islam,” a weekly cable-television show, and a frequent speaker on Islam. Readers may send feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org