In Loving Memory on Father’s Day

Absence and death are the same thing- only that in death there is no suffering. 

The summer solstice begins in June and marks three month you left us baba joonam. June marks the first father’s day without you.  June marks my birthday….without you.

Heavenly angels, If Orchids grow in heaven, pick a bunch for me and place them in my father’s arms. Tell him they’re from me and  when he turns to smile, place a kiss upon his cheek, tell him I love him and miss him lots.

In my thoughts, in my heart, in every part of my life, you are always with me and always will be…and yet there is an ache within my heart that will never go way.

Happy Father’s Day Baba Joon…..Missing you today and everyday.

March 21, 2019~  Laying there in the hospital room, with his eyes closed just waiting for that imminent moment. I sealed my eyes imperviously to catch a quick glimpse of what his stunning brown eyes looked like. I cherished every last caress of his soft skin as I felt his struggle relinquish.

The desperate cry of disappearance filled the funeral room, silent, yet spoken. I could feel tears bursting from my eyes, and the whole world had felt as if it had stopped. 

Was this what was to become of my dad? 

I couldn’t help but stare at that cruel, cruel casket, laying open there, for me to view my angelic dad. His fragile body allay, alone. My heart had been torn once 7 months ago when my maternal grandmother, maman Sara, passed. 

It was the same cruel void and emptiness all over again. 

“It’ll be alright,” whispered mom, sitting beside me. ‘NO IT WON’T!’ I wanted to shriek, but instead, I cried my broken heart out. As more tears came, and more thoughts whirled about every thing I had done and said to baba. 

Was he really gone?

Nothing physical was left of him. That bitter spring day, laying in an open casket, I witnessed my dad’s physical body drenched in nothingness.

No. No. No.

“Baba”, I half-whispered in his delicate ear.

“You are with me still. You will forever be with me…. like you always said, death is just a change of address.  Our souls find new clothes in a different physical body” 

From where you lay down in eternity, flowers shall grow and you are in them and that is Eternity. 

April 21, 2019~  There’s a void. An emptiness.  My Intellect knows life and death have their determined appointments but the void in my heart seems clueless. 

Are pain and suffering the same thing?

I can become indignant and numb myself or I can deeply comprehend that I’m my father’s daughter. As he always said, “Nora joon, baba, we don’t have a soul. We are a soul and we have a body.”

Grief is really just love.  It’s all the love you want to give but can’t.  All that unspent love gathers up in the corner of our eyes, the lump in our throat, and in that hollow part of our chest. Grief is just love with nowhere to go.

It took me a month of grieving and mourning to realize though that it is love, not reason, that is stronger than death. 

Loved. I loved you baba. 

No… I can’t use it in the past tense. Death does not stop love at all. 

A tear trickles down from my eye…

Baba you weren’t loving. 

YOU were Love. 

Your destiny rang its dreadful alarms on your physical body but your soul is right here next to me as we talk every day but specially every Thursday morning before you go to lunch with your childhood friends, Mr Morovati and Dr Sayah, as we enjoy our afternoon coffee together, as you chant Hafez’s poems by heart and use his ghazals as proverbs and sayings…oh the joys of love, wine, ecstasy and freedom from restraints. 

Baba joonam, you are immortal as I reach the highest spiritual realm as I dance with you in my meditate to Ana B’Ko’ach, as I hear your voice in every one of Hafez or Shams-e-Tabriz’s themes… you are free of your worldly restraints and now you are the immortal voice of divine love influencing my life. 

Memory is an elusive seductress, hard to pin down. All my childhood memories….

All my adult memories…

Death changes everything.  Time changes nothing. I’m angry. 

I miss the sound of your voice. The wisdom of your advice. So, NO, time changes nothing. 

I just miss you. 

What are we? What is life? Grant me understanding . Help my heart trust In god to grant me peace. 

My thoughts will never go back to default. they will never become like the spring snow… they can’t thaw away as soon as they hit the ground. 

How does one deal with this pain, this relentless void?

This strange and foreign sensation?

This constant tightness in my chest that feels like a constant adrenaline rush and after awhile it becomes painful but it wont stop….

My heart is on fire, I am restless and awake

O soul you have a pact with the Divine, I know.

But ask how should I my life manage?

I’m good one minute or for a nice long stretch of time and then a memory comes and hits me like a fist to the gut and the tears come uncontrollably rolling down. 

Some days, I’m numb and feel like I’m on a far away surreal cloud… on autopilot…

I’m here and I see and feel everything but it doesn’t feel real. 

Does that make sense?

Sometimes I don’t even realize how disconnected I’ve gotten from my pure essence.  Life happens and sometimes it hurts badly.

And yes I’ll move on….I laugh and cry in the span of the same day, even the same hour, even the same moment…I’ll move on but I’ll never be the same.

But like you always said dad, life may give us what we want.  Or life may never give us what we want. But we can always give life who we are.

In this moment of rediscovery I feel gratitude and warmth again. 

Warmth in knowing that caring for someone without expectation seems impossible. and yet time and time again dad, you were that for us…always filled with gratitude and humility.  Always appreciating what you had rather what you lacked.  Always soul-oriented. Unshakable wide perspective.  Shrunken ego.  Filled with an organic attitude. 

You are Free.

I’m reminded again and again through all your acts that you didn’t just care… you loved purely.  Deep was your love for us. Your tender compassion boundless. You were love personified. It’s never been separated from you.

June 11, 2019~  As the sounds of the waves finds its own rhythm so does my breathing…. as I listen, seagulls hectically circle the warm sky above the pacific ocean, just like the thoughts circling in my mind.  As I listen to the sounds, my mind is at peace.  

Baba you are in light now.

Only the most precious are kept deep inside our hearts…as most valuable things are unseen to the naked eye

Words fail to convey the true magnitude and purity of emotions we possess for someone. Perhaps, that’s because the bliss can’t be expressed, it can only be experienced and felt in ways beyond the description of words, an inaudible language. 

On friendships-

Dad always said friendships come in many degrees and we have friends in many different contexts. Some are acquaintances, some casual, others (the fewest) very close.

And they are all people important to us for more than just what they can do for us. Meaning, we value them for themselves.

And then there are those whom are within our circle of trust. Those whom allow us to feel safe with them when facing our vulnerabilities.

What distinguishes a true friendship is LOVE. A feeling that is independent of how useful the person is to us. A feeling that the relationship will never be over regardless of wether the benefits or pleasure they provide is exhausted. 

In the end, we give our closest friends the power to influence us, change us and help us become the people we are. 

And those rare individuals are what it’s all about. 

I am blessed with those rare and priceless gem of friends whom never left my side and checked up on me daily for the past 3 months.

I am forever in your debt an humbled by your love…

Things unspoken….

My beloved Baba…We live in a world of time and space but you don’t. You can see me. I know it.  You are present. 

Baba joonam, your candle may have burnt out but your light will forever shine 

I light a candle because I know your soul is present in my world.

I light a candle because I know your soul isn’t ephemeral. 

I light a candle as I remember your wise words:

Nora Joon”, you would say, “When you feel connected to everything, you also feel responsible for everything. You cannot turn away. Your destiny is bound with the destiny of others. You must either learn to carry and flow with the universe or be crushed by it.  You must grow strong enough to love the world, yet empty enough to sit down at the same table with its worst horrors.   Sometimes we ride the waves and sometimes we almost drown”. 

Oh baba, how I miss your words of wisdom…..

This is life… 

we persevere. 

We persist. 

We are relentless. 

We keep going. 

We love. 

People we care about never go away.  They are in the shadows of our hearts.   Even in the silence, we hear them.  Even in wind across the endless sky, we hear them.  Even in the clouds from behind the mountains, we hear them.

Baba I have so much to tell you still. I won’t physically pick up the phone to call you and tell you of all the events of my day but I won’t have to as you’ll be right next to me witnessing them.

As in life and now death, you wouldn’t want us to focus on the sadness and sorrow but to continue to love and support each other no matter the situation. 

I am reminded again and again through the way you lived your life that love does not need an object. 

Love is simply a quality. Love is not about what you do. Love is the way you are.

Love is simply life longing for itself.

Essentially,  It is only when love becomes all-inclusive that we touch the boundless.

And that is when we realize a simple truth: the soul is eternal, infinite and forever. It has always been.

It is pure love. And it is boundless.

Love you forever and a day dad.

Do not stand at my grave and weep I am not there, I do not sleep.

I am a 1000 winds that blow

I am a diamond glint on snow

I am the sunlight on ripened grain

I am the gentle autumn rain

When you awake in the morning hush

I am the swift uplifting rush

of quiet birds in circling flight

I am the soft starlight at night

Do not stand at my grave and weep I am not there, I do not sleep

Do not stand at my grave an cry

I am not there, I did not die.

~Mary Elizabeth Frye

Honey, that’s just life!

Copyright 2019, all rights reserved


Turning 48- An Ordinary Day Sprinkled with Stardust

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Turning 48- An Ordinary Day Sprinkled with Stardust

I recently turned 48. Did I just admit that? I demand a recount!

Yes, I’m truly grateful to add one more summer to the total summers of my life…blah, blah, blah!!

I’ve got to tell you, this annual open tab on the years of our lives just shockingly lurks on us, strikes us with a bullwhip into a double whammy and we are jolted into a rude awakening with a whisper that says “hey you… the busy years just passed you and you didn’t even realize it”.

“Excuse me for being bold, but if you don’t mind my asking, how old are you?” asked a lady at a seminar I was attending last week. She was trying, desperately, to place the decade I was born.  After stumbling for what seemed forever, I finally succumbed, “I will be 48 in a few days”.

Why, oh why was it so difficult for me to admit it?  Was it possibly because on the inside I felt closer to 25ish and reality dictated otherwise?

 I look in the bathroom mirror above the sink, I see my sudden aging.  I see it on my facial features one by one.  I specially notice the creases in my forehead and around my eyes. And yet to my full shock and horror, I’m not dismayed, saddened or resigned.  No, instead I feel a certain sort of interest.  No beauty on earth lasts forever except the beauty that comes from the inner journey of love.

Cheesy right? And yet what can I tell you about this newfound profoundness! I swear it’s this aging thing!

Last night, at a dinner party, my closest friends and I along with our husbands ruminated on this aging phenomena.  As the women were nostalgic about our lost youth, the men were exceedingly, and it seemed rather pleasantly, entertained by our agitation.

They were quite candid that wrinkles bother women more than they do men. (Hmmmm…Interesting I thought…Do continue….) In fact, more guys find a few lines on a woman’s face extremely attractive.  (Deliciously compelling….)

I happily succumbed to their alluring notion. Those meticulous wrinkles are the etchings of our experience, maturity and the wisdom  we’ve sporadically acquired throughout the years to help us become the women we are today!

It certainly hasn’t been easy but as I’ve had to accept the things that are changing and unpredictable, I’ve learned that every journey is a journey within.   And to me, that surpasses all the physical beauty and fallacy of youth.

But then, on the one hand, I’m getting older (a forbidden word here in Los Angeles- where plastic surgery, Hollywood and a youth-envy are intermutual and equally cherished). On the other hand, my journey within starts. 

On the one hand, I can still party as though I were still in my 20’s.  On the other hand, my joys with solitude have begun (very non-LA!). 

I can honestly say I appreciate the benefits of occasionally being alone.  It increases my creativity, productivity and leads me to a better mental health. I just need to keep that incessant chatter in my head at bay!!!!

I realize I’ve survived so much and thank God, have always been able to blend right back in (extensively an LA-thing!).

Do I sound Confused? Ok, maybe just a little. But let me clarify it by quoting Voltaire.  He put it well when he wrote, “God gave us the gift of life; it is up to us to give ourselves the gift of living it well.”

So far so good Monsieur Voltaire…  I’m feeling witty and enlightened I deduct, as I shove the last piece of chocolate into my mouth before my conscious has time to catch up with my greed!!

Isn’t it true, after all, how we play our role is the great test of our character?   And that, I believe, is how we defeat aging….(and by eating chocolote!)

I love that I’m getting older.  I’m not going to battle against it.  I mean, let’s be honest, what’s the alternative?

So instead of infinite agony shivering down my spine and washing over me like a sudden wave of sadness and anxiety,  I rather enjoy the beauty of a few distinguished lines towards knowledge, virtue, kindness and divine intuition.  I’ve earned my stripes!

There’s an entire landscape of the other side of youth that has more depth and meaning.  It has to do with our attitude.  It has to do with being conscious and authentic, listening to others with a caring heart, having persona, presence and confidence.  It’s about accepting who we are and celebrating it.

Age is only a number and part of life’s little ironies!   I will not stop feeling young at heart and I will continue to live life with the idealism of youth and the experience and clarity of age. And time will continue to feel limitless and making sense of the world will continue to be effortless. 

More than ever, now, I continue to marvel at God’s love and have faith in the universe. I find myself rethinking family, life, spirituality, and Love.

“Love is the water of life and A life without love is of no account” (Rumi). Love has no definitions and no labels. It is pure and simple.  It is that whispering voice that has helped me to climb to the summit of the proverbial mountain and count my blessings with every challenge and blister of life.

So for my 48th birthday, I’ve decided to get myself a gift.  The gift of feeling every age as I live it and finding beauty as it is now in my present age. 

And so I’ve decided from this day forth that I DON’T have birthdays… I LEVEL UP!… In matters of the mind, the heart and the soul! ( and ok the years as well!!!!!)

But I’ve promised myself this one thing (ok 3 things!)

I will LIVE life fiercely, LOVE passionately and LAUGH profusely!

I will continue to find joy and a life of meaning and satisfaction even in the midst of suffering.

I don’t know from day to day whether I’ll be alive or not but I know that I’m alive today and made stronger than yesterday.  As long as I’m breathing and above  ground, I will continue to grow, learn, improve and LOVE.

And I know that wherever I go in life, I’ll go with dignity. It’ll be apparent through the way I talk, the way I walk, the way I treat others, and yes, the way I dress and display myself.

And I realize, everything is a life lesson.  Everyone we meet, everything we encounter. They’re all part of the learning experience we call ‘life.’ Let’s remember to never forget to acknowledge the lesson, especially when things don’t go our way.  And the lesson just learned is the first step towards mindfully living life.

So as I embrace 48, it’s clear to me that those who improve with age embrace personal growth and replace the vanity of youth with wisdom, and innocence with understanding, all the while maintaining creativity and talent without losing an ounce of hope and enthusiasm they bring to their life and the life of those they love.

And I will celebrate  life, family and friends as though there’s no tomorrow….all those who want to be a part of my life are welcomed… And those who don’t… Well, that’s fine as well. Because no matter how I look at it, some things just won’t ever make sense!

So my dear friends, I now declare birthdays as Level Up Days….

All those in favor say “I”…..

Honey, that’s just life!

Copyright 2017, all rights reserved