Munira Premji

Last night, my Mum snuck into my bed at midnight to wish me happy birthday.  Yesterday, I turned 24 years old.  As she held me in her arms, she told me how she was proud of the person I had become.  It was only a few years ago that we lay curled up beside each other in that very bed, talking about first kisses and bad dates.  About goals and aspirations.  About upcoming tests and interesting things I had learned in school that day.  About which University I should go to.  10 years of stories, laughs, tears and lessons have been shared in this bed.

We thought of the memories we will create together over the next 10 years.  I imagine my Mum being there to drop me to the airport when I return to East Africa – she is a strong woman, but cries every time she hugs me at the security gate. Every time.  I imagine calling my Mum from abroad telling her about all the inspiring mamas I met in the field that day, and to help me process the inequities and challenges of working in the development sector.  I can imagine us figuring out which school I should go to for my Masters degree, over a plate of nachos and chicken wings – and be there to decorate the Christmas tree together when I return home for the holidays each year.  Ever since I was a little girl, my Mum has told me that the biggest decision I will ever make is deciding who I want to marry.  On my wedding day, I imagine her being present every step of the way.  To make sure I made the right decision.  To dance with my Dad at the reception.  To continue to show me how love grows stronger even after 30 years of marriage.  I imagine my Mum holding my hand in the delivery room as I become a mother – and introducing her grandchildren to the enchanting words of Roald Dahl and the magic of Harry Potter.

We are a family of immense faith and positivity, but we are also a family of honest communication.  As we visualized the memories we’ll create over the next ten years, we talked about our fears.   For an instantaneous moment, the thought crossed our minds that maybe my Mum would not be here for convocations, Christmases and carriages.  She is battling advanced stages of two types of blood cancer, and there are a number of things that must align perfectly for her to get through this.  Stable blood levels.  No more antibodies, in the case of a transfusion. Chemotherapy for the lymphoma.  Chemotherapy for the multiple myeloma.  Stem cell transplant.  And hopefully, sometime soon, a cure for myeloma so she can live well beyond the 5-6 years typical of people with this type of cancer.

And then we realized, the beauty of life lays in its unpredictability and constant change.  I don’t know what the next ten years has in store for my Mum, or for any of us.  But what I do know, is that when my Mum and I get lost as we generally do, we always seem to stumble across a Fairweathers outlet store.  And when a new Twilight movie comes out, we are at the front of the line on opening day.  And when the Canadian National Exhibition opens each year, we are the happiest people in the world.  These are what memories are made of.  It’s not necessarily the amount of time you have with someone that matters; it’s about what you make of that time.  It’s about being present in every conversation, in every moment.  That’s what really counts.

– Sabrina


  • Mary Gemmiti , July 21, 2014

    I love you guys! All of you! Truly all blessed. Always in my prayers. xoxo

  • Farida , April 3, 2012

    this is so beautifully written. very touching, and inspirational to us all. We are all learning a lot from your family. So much courage, love and faith!
    There are more and more innovations and research as time goes by. Your mum will come out a winner out of this. In the meantime we are all being inspired by her and your family.

    • Anonymous , April 16, 2012

      All will be well. The Lord only has plans for good and not to destroy……………………………..He always gives us Grace to accompany any burden which befall us. I love when your mummy looks at the situation in a very different perspective. She is incredible and our prayers are with her always. May the family be enouraged!

      Lucy .

  • Anonymous , April 2, 2012

    Ya Ali Madad Mukhiani Maa Munira,

    I am thinking of you this morning and praying that the chemo and treatment go well. As said by others, you certainly are a passionate and caring person with an infectious personality and a natural at connecting with people – I remember being intrigued by your confidence and touched by your warmth from the time I was in high school and a new immigrant in Canada almost thirty years ago. I pray that you remain strong and continue to empower and influence happiness in many more lives!

    Shelina Shivji

  • Shaney Sunderji , March 30, 2012

    Hey Sabrina,

    Happy belated Birthday!

    I cannot imagine myself in your shoes, I applaud your strength and positive attitude.

    With all the prayers from everyone your Mum will be with us with her warm smile and big hugs
    for many years to come.

    Shaney, Amin, Omar, Sophia & Sarah

  • Dilshad Nathoo , March 29, 2012

    Happy Belated Birthday Sabrina.
    I will admit, I did cry when I first heard the news from your dad but after that, I haven’t shed 1 tear because I’ve kept myself positive, happy and mentally and spiritually giving positive thoughts to your mom………until I read this post.
    Then I read Pascale’s post and I’m back to being mentally, spiritually and physically charged for your mom. I did read the book, the Secret. I truly believe in it, myself.
    Congratulations to Pascale’s father and your mom will definitely be following suit.

    Love to you,

  • Rashida Kanji , March 29, 2012

    What a beautiful writeup Sabrina! Very touching and brought tears in my eyes but my Heart is smiling for the entire Premji family! Happiest Birthday Sabrina!
    Your Mum will be a very Happy Mum on your wedding Day and she will be the proudest Mum when she becomes Nani! Look forward to those days Sabrina!

    Lots of special special special Love & prayers!

  • Shy , March 28, 2012

    Happy Birthday! U truly have a gift of writing! I Imagine being at Chapters one day in the future and seeing a book authored by you displayed on the best selling table amongst many other Heather’s picks! And I picture you celebrating your success as an accomplished author with your mom standing right by your side! I LOVE reading your stories, they are so inspiring, so raw, so full of emotions…I pray for your mom everyday. May Mowla give her strength to get thru these rounds of chemo so that this nightmare becomes a very distant memory for her…

  • Lynda Cavanagh , March 28, 2012

    Happy Birthday Sabrina,
    May your Mom be with you forever

  • Nazmina Ladha , March 28, 2012

    Happy Birthday Sabrina, you sure have turned into one beautiful, attractive gal;). I remember you sitting in the foyer at Willowdale Jk doing your homework and reading, waiting for your parents to finish their MK duties.
    Mukhianma, my thoughts, prayers and good wishes are with you. Hope to see you at Willowdale Jk soon, ‘The happening Place with the best chai in Town’!l

  • Elizabeth Barasa , March 28, 2012

    “mwanangu :)” wat an encouraging verse. thank you very much for sharing. Remember ye u 2 b very strong 4 ur mama. our Lord God is in charge.

  • Pascale , March 28, 2012

    Hi Sabrina,

    I can rely on you in many ways.
    I am a proud mum of a wonderful daughter who is also 24 years old.
    I am also a colleague of your mum who faced cancer.
    But most of all, I am the daughter of an amazing man who suffered from a form of blood cancer similar to your mum…prognostic was 2 to 5 years according to medical knowledge. My father was a positive and strong man like your mother. He lived after the diagnostic for 29 years. Love and faith can do miracle.
    Happy birthday!

  • Anonymous , March 28, 2012

    Dearest Sabrina and family,

    this is absolutely beautiful, touching and heart felt. Thank you for sharing these with us and including us in your journey so that we can be inspired to lead a life of positively and living life to the full. Love you guys and look forward to seeing you all soon Insh’Allah.

    Lots of pyar to all
    Shahzadi and the troop:)

  • Saaiqa , March 28, 2012

    Sabrina, this is beautiful. I’m scared to imagine what you are going through, let alone try to put myself in your shoes. You are so strong, and your family is such an inspiration. Love you always, God bless.

  • Anonymous , March 28, 2012

    Happy belated birthday Sabrina! Our prayers are with you all….

    NImet, Karim. Raheem & Aly

  • Nadia Pirani , March 28, 2012

    beautiful, just beautiful Sabrina… no words at this time. Your whole family is an example for every single family unit, you all are so beautiful people in mind and spirit, we all can learn so much from you. God Bless all of you and may He always be with you all inspire you more than you already know, give you all strength to face the challenges and above all keep you all strong and united.. Amen.

    Nadia (Azaan’s mum)

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