The flight that changed my life

I got married in July 2002 at the age of 21. My husband worked for the Pakistan Air Force as a fighter pilot at the time. As a 21 year old, who had absolutely no background in armed forces, I thought it was the coolest thing ever to be married to someone who flew an F-16.

We spent eight wonderful years together and were blessed with two boys – Awwab and Sarim. Everything seemed perfect in our lives until one morning on July 2010 I got a phone call. This was the phone call that changed my life forever.

I lost my husband in a plane crash eight years ago on July 28, 2010. I was 29 at the time and our boys were 7 and 5.

Air Blue flight ED 202 which was flying to Islamabad from Karachi had crashed in Margalla Hills. My husband was the co-pilot of that flight. My husband worked for the Pakistan Air Force for 12 years and then took an early retirement due to medical reasons. He joined Air Blue airlines in 2009 and exactly a year after he passed away in a fatal air crash.

Even though it has been eight years, my fingers still tremble as I type this and my heart aches as everything from eight years ago comes back to me so clearly. I remember everything as it was only yesterday.

How he finished reading the prayer for fajr and then said Allah hafiz to me before he left for work. Neither one of us knew it’s going to be the last time we’re saying Allah hafiz to each other. Next thing I know, I was staring at his coffin, covered with flowers. My eyes were shedding tears and my heart felt like it was going to burst, but Subhan’Allah during the most difficult and painful time of my life, Allah the Most Merciful blessed me with patience.

“Indeed we belong to Allah and to Him we all return.” I truly understood the intensity of those words at that time.

I stayed in Karachi until August and then came back to the US with my boys to be with my parents and start my life all over again. At that time I felt as if my life was over, but deep inside I knew that I have to live for my boys and fulfill my responsibilities.

When I came back to the US, I had nothing. I didn’t have any money saved up, didn’t have a degree, and my kids were too young. But I did have something far better, my iman, having Allah by my side, and Kashif’s memories which gave me strength! It was very painful to go about my daily life and knowing that he is not here, but I knew I had to go on, for the sake of my Allah, for my kids. I missed him every second. The grief that I felt was unexplainable. Waking up every day and realizing again and again that he was not here was heart wrenching, but Allah never left me. He gave me hope to look forward and have faith and hope for the best!

I started going to school after my iddat ended and after two years with a lot of moral and emotional support from my parents and siblings, I finally got my bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood Education. That was my very first achievement after feeling lost forever. I felt good. I bought a house, started working as a teacher in an elementary school, and I started to feel a little bit better.

Even though I have all of my family here, I wanted to support myself and my kids and be an example of faith and resilience for them. I truly believe Allah left me here for a reason and I wanted to make sure that I try my best to fulfill my responsibilities to the best of my abilities and be an example of grace and sabr for everyone around me, especially my boys. I started doing things that I never even knew I could ever do. Kashif always believed in me, and somehow even after he left, his love and kind words became my strength and I kept going. He was and will always be my inspiration, my image of perfection, and the wind beneath my wings.

This past summer I took the boys to Pakistan after seven years and it was also the first time I took them to visit their baba’s resting place in Karachi. For most of our stay in Pakistan, we stayed in E-9 in Islamabad, where my brother in law (also in the Air Force) was posted at the time.

Every time I got out to go somewhere I saw the the Margalla hills staring right at me. They were absolutely beautiful, but they were also a painful reminder of how I lost my husband. I stayed in Islamabad for a month and the beauty of my stay was that not once did I feel depressed there. Rather my heart was content, I felt as if he was very close to me.

Over the eight years I have realized that whenever I go to Pakistan and interact with the people there, or give something back to my country (in any way) my heart felt content, I found some meaning in my life.

Giving back to others, whether it was a kind word, or volunteering at a school, was a way for me to feel happy and not be drowned in my own sorrow. Helping others over the years has given my suffering meaning and allowed me to grow into the person I am today. Even though, giving something back to other people didn’t bring him back, but somehow it helps me keep his memory alive. It has also helped me focus on other people’s problems and sorrows other than mine. Serving others became a form of therapy and a source of empowerment for me and brought a clear purpose in my life. It also became a way for me to honor my husband and his love for his country.

As I go about my daily life, not a second goes by when I don’t miss him and make dua for him. I’ve loved him for as long as I can remember, I don’t remember anything before that. Even after all this time, he’s still so alive in my life, in my heart, in the things I write, and I will continue to keep him alive by talking about him, telling people about him for as long as I’m here inshaAllah!

Truly, some people never die and he was one of those special people. My husband selflessly served this country and loved every minute of doing it. I remember the never ending night flying, and then going to work again early next morning, but I never remember him complaining about his work routine, ever! He was a thorough professional and always had a smile for the boys and I when he came back home.

My boys who are 15 and 13 now masha’Allah always make dua for their baba every night and they have been doing it since they didn’t even know what the word “maghfirat” meant. They seem to be very happy and content boys, who love playing video games and love all the marvel movies. They are very close to my brother who has played a significant role in their life. I see a little bit of their baba in them every day. I hope I can raise them to be caring and respectful human beings, who always remember their baba with the utmost admiration in their hearts.

As I look back at my life, I feel in awe of Allah SWT and His mercy and how He has helped me in every step of the way. Kashif was my dua come true and when he was taken away from me, I felt as if part of me died along with him. There’s many days when I feel crushed by all the responsibilities and not having Kashif around, but then I tell myself it’s only a matter of time until I see him again Insha’Allah! He filled my life with so much love and respect that I always find myself being ever so grateful to the Most Merciful for blessing with an amazing husband who became my best friend and then later became my strength to move forward in life.

This story is shared by Madiha Sarwar member of Soul Sisters Pakistan 

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