Last year, one of my closest friends lost her father. She was devastated, I was torn, and her family were broken. Seeing their smiles that once brightened up their home break down into endless tears, I felt helpless.
It’s never easy seeing someone you love pass away, especially someone who also felt like a father to you; I would always make the effort to visit my friend and her family, greeting them with “Asalamuwalykum, Mama and Baba!”- “Peace be upon you mum and dad”.
Over time my friend’s parents became my own and when I heard of her father’s loss, I felt the world change around me.
I held my friend, hugged her, and carried the weight of her tears on my chest. She turned to me and said “I can’t believe he’s actually gone”. I froze, words no longer able to comfort her pain.
The emptiness and hollow feeling of losing loved ones are felt by many people this year. The pandemic has taken away hundreds of thousands of lives in the UK alone, and has caused separation and loneliness, leaving many - like me - feeling speechless.
We have learned that life is short and should be lived to its fullest
The ending of the holy month is meant to be all about fun, family and community, it is the essence of togetherness and making memories to last a lifetime.
Gifts are passed around between family and friends and after a month of fasting from sunrise to sundown you can bite into your favourite dishes, before falling into a food coma.
But of course this year, Eid also means something else. In the last 12 months things have changed, the pandemic has been a type of awakening, people have lost loved ones, others have lost their jobs and the rates of depression and anxiety have increased.
We have learned that life is short and should be lived to its fullest. The events that occur around us on a day to day basis, should humble us, teach us and grant us hope.
If there’s one thing I’ve learnt during my time in lockdown, the subsequent unemployment and confusion, it’s to be grateful. Gratitude became a form of survival for me.
It taught me to appreciate the small moments my family and I spent in lockdown together, how we laughed and also cried
For Ramadan last year, I decided to purchase a little gratitude jar, as cliché as that may seem - I wanted everyone in the house to write one thing that they were most grateful for.
So every day, during Ramadan, after we opened our fast together, we would write one thing we were grateful for and pop it into the jar. It was a nice reminder for us all to complain a little less and do a little more to keep our mental wellbeing in check.
Recently I opened up that jar and smiled reading them back. It taught me to appreciate the small moments my family and I spent in lockdown together, how we laughed and also cried, but more importantly it taught me that life can escape us in the blink of an eye.
The importance of Eid this year stems from loss and love. A lesson to appreciate and remember the bittersweet moments that come with life.