In the Name of God, the Compassionate, the Infinitely Merciful
ON June 1, my wife and I were blessed with the birth of our son, Zacharia Hesham Hassaballa. It was a very happy day for the both of us. I pray that the Precious Beloved protects him, blesses him, and makes him a force for good in both our family and this world. His official due date was today – which is bittersweet because, this is also the anniversary of the death of our eldest child, Bayan. Indeed, his coming has made June a little less dark; his coming has made June is little more bearable, as my wife said to me.
It is customary, in Arabian tradition, to nickname a man as “Abu —-,” or “Father of —-,” after the name of either his first-born son or his only son. If one doesn’t have any sons, then he is named after his first-born daughter. Thus, heretofore, I would be known among my Arab friends as “Abu Bayan.” The same goes for my wife. But, as if on cue, after our son was born, with all the congratulations I received, many a person would say, “Congratulations, ‘Abu Zacharia,'” or “Father of Zacharia.” When I heard this, I would smile and say, “Thanks.” But, in my mind and my heart, I will forever be known as “Abu Bayan,” or “Bayan’s Dad.”
Three years ago, when our Angel flew back to her Lord, it was a beautiful sunny day like today. Three years ago, despite the warmth and glow of the sun, our whole world was darkened and overturned. Three years ago, our lives changed and we will never be the same again. From that day forward, three years ago, I was forever “Abu Bayan.”
She was so very, very precious to me. Her sweetness would warm even the coldest and darkest heart. Her love would envelope you and make you feel at peace. Her smile would light up the entire room. It killed me to see her suffer through the crippling effects of Ataxia-Telangiectasia, but despite her disability, she always remained happy and cheery. And I was forever honored to be called “Abu Bayan.”
Cancer really took its toll on both her body and spirit. Even when she was suffering, she never wanted us to feel sad or hurt. Once, we were out with family, and on the way home, she wanted to ride with her aunt. She made absolutely sure that we were not saddened by her decision. That’s just how beautiful her soul and being was. And that is why I revel in forever being “Abu Bayan.”
Ever since that day, my heart has screamed in pain and anguish over her loss. There is not a day that goes by that I don’t have a pain that can sometimes seize my very breath. Yes, my face may have a smile, but if you could see my heart – and my wife is the exact same – it would be broken in terror and anguish. Losing a child is the absolute worst thing anyone can go through, and I pray that no one else has to go through such a terrible occurrence. But, it happened. All I can do is pray to the Lord for His comfort and strength.
And I am grateful to the Precious Beloved for His giving me such a beautiful daughter as Bayan; I am grateful to Him for His making me “Abu Bayan.”
I love each and every one of my children. They are all a beautiful, tremendous gift from the Lord above. I don’t mean to diminish any one of them by expressing this feeling. And, of course, I won’t chastise anyone for calling me – with good intentions, I know – “Abu Zacharia.” But, I know – and now I tell the world – that in my heart I will forever be “Abu Bayan.” I could not have it any other way.
Lord, I really, really miss my beautiful Angel Bayan. Grant me strength and comfort to endure the pain of her loss.