While talking online with one of my friends, she accidentally typed incorrectly and said that she had “only started eating in college”. I caught the typo and seized the opportunity to poke fun at her, saying that she must have been on a feeding tube before then. She wasn't offended, but told me, “Ha ha, that's not funny. My cousin was on a feeding tube.” I shrugged it off and told her that I had been on a feeding tube as well. I thought it was another one of those instances when people tell me, “Yeah, I know exactly how it is, Hammad. I broke my leg and was on crutches for a few weeks and it sucked, too. I know exactly how you feel.”
What she said next took me by surprise. She told me how she never hung out with her cousin because he never left his house. My friend only hung out with his sister. Her cousin was bed-ridden his whole life. Slowly, his muscles deteriorated until eventually, he could not eat and had to be put on a feeding tube. At the young age of twenty-five, he passed away. As he was dying, he kept asking for his grandmother because he was very close to her. The next morning when his relatives went to his grandmother's house to inform her of his death, they saw that she had passed away as well. His mother and sister had spent their lives taking care of him—feeding him, turning him in bed, changing his diapers, etc. When he passed away, it was as if their baby had been taken from them.
I probably seemed pretty insensitive as I was responding to my friend telling this story, because I simply kept saying, “Oh, wow.” I honestly wasn't sure what to say and my mind was racing with different thoughts. I kept thinking about how blessed I am for everything that I have. I can get out of the house, I can eat amazing food, I can take care of myself, I can hang out with friends—these are just a few things that I am blessed with.
Hearing this story reminded me of something that my mom said to me once when I was much younger. Like I said in an earlier post, she has a way of saying things that make me think of things in a new light. From Urdu, the rough translation is, “When you look up, look down.” This means that when one looks at the people who have much more than us, we must also remember not to forget about the people who have much less than us. I am not completely void of thinking negative things. Occasionally, I think back to the things that I used to be able to do or I look around to people around me and wish that I was like them. But then I re-ground myself and remind myself that I am truly blessed. I am blessed to have survived the accident. I am blessed to have recovered so well from certain injuries. I also feel blessed that I have experienced things in my past that I cannot do now. I cannot hike through trails or play football with my friends, but instead of being depressed that I cannot perform these acts (like I was for a few months after my accident), I am grateful that at least I know what these things feel like. It is like the old saying that girls seem to love, “Is it better to love and have lost, or to have not loved at all?” Is it better to know what it feels like to experience life like everyone else and then lose certain things, or is it better to not experience these things at all so one doesn't know what they're missing out on? I'm still trying to answer this question for myself. All I know is that I'm blessed.