Incomprehensible. Unfathomable. Unconceivable.
How else do you explain the untimely death of someone so young, so innocent?
Serena was 12. Innocence personified. A child who spoke little, yet who spoke up about things that mattered. Things like collecting funds for the World Partnership Walk or selling chocolates for her school.
A girl who had the biggest smile ever.
A smile that gave you a glimpse into her clever mind and beautiful soul.
A smile that captured her feisty personality and mischievous demeanour.
A precious child with dreams and hopes.
A child who loved coming to Jamatkhana and serving as a volunteer. In fact, she was there until 10:30 pm on Monday night, when her dad reminded her that the next day was a school night and it was time to go home.
Her dad brought the car closer to pick her up and Serena was nowhere to be seen. So her dad went into Jamatkhana to look for her . As her parents describe it, Serena seemed reluctant to leave Jamatkhana. For many moments, she stayed inside, glancing this way and that, looking around until she contentedly exclaimed, “This is my favourite place in the whole world!”, before going home.
The next day she was gone, no longer with us. Just like that. No warning.
Her passing shattered her mom Salima, dad Ashif and sister Karina.
How do they even begin to come to terms with what happened to their younger daughter, and beloved sister and confidante?
How do they carry on? And yet they must, because that is what Serena would have wanted.
And they will find their way with God’s grace, the blessing of time and the love of the community.
They will indeed find their way when they sense that Serena has gone home and is bathed in God’s love.
Serena’s passing shattered the community because when you lose a child, it is as if you have lost a part of you. It is in these moments that you hold on to your children and everyone close to you to express what they mean to you, because tomorrow may be too late.
Life is a cycle of life and death. There is no life without death. There is no death without life. When we are born, we begin the process of dying.
Perhaps this is the time to confront death head on, regardless of age. To live life knowing that there is the certainty of death, and that’s okay. And while we are alive, to live in wonder, in joy and in love. To live in service of the other. To live in humanity and inter-connectedness. To celebrate each other. To listen, to love, to laugh and dream with our children and people we care about. To nurture and forgive. To live a life of purpose.
Perhaps now is the time to be kind to ourselves. To do all the things we aspire to do. To live in balance of our material and spiritual lives. To honour the gift of life, for however long we have it. Life is not a dress rehearsal and we live on borrowed time. And when it is our time to go – – or to let our loved ones go – – let us do this with grace, with the certainty that another journey awaits.
For little Serena, the doors of heaven have opened. She has been released in love and carried by angels into God’s light.
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