On Friday, November 22nd 2013, a close friend of mine passed away. It wasn’t that he was my best friend, or that we even talked all that much, but when we did it was like we had never missed a day. I considered him to be someone I could always count on to help me, make me laugh, be completely ridiculous with me, support me, and make me feel worthy. What more could you ask for in a friend? We were very similar, both free-spirited and young-hearted but ready to get to business when we had to. He was the kind of guy that NO ONE had anything bad to say about, and he had an enormous impact on so many peoples’ lives, both directly and indirectly. He started two charity organization chapters at our university and has led a team in sending millions of dollars worth of medical supplies to countries in need. He was a very devout Muslim, and always had a beautiful story to accompany any tough situation we were dealing with. He was the kind of friend you wanted to keep around because he inspired you to do good and to be good.
I remember meeting him in 2009, our first semester in college, and we clicked immediately. Over the four years following, we would celebrate birthdays, days off, Ramadan iftars, donut cravings, and finally, graduation; a party complete with a very long Just Dance session, during which we all went completely nuts. He was my forever friend, and that’s the last thing I told him a few months before I he passed away. I went to his funeral, and it was the first time I had to deal with a friend and loved one’s death. When I think about things from an Islamic perspective, I realize that it’s not so bad. He lived 21 years of serving God and others. He was a selfless person, and I’m certain he has a place in Heaven inshaAllah (God willing). I tried the whole day to smile over all of the great things he had done in his life. Nate reminded me that he’s done more in his 21-year life than most people have done in their long years of living, which is absolutely true. He was a son, brother, uncle, student, teacher, and companion. He was Mohamed Shaaban.
|my 21st birthday with Shaaban (far right)|
A few days after the funeral, I finished reading Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury and I came across something beautiful that reminded me of my forever friend, told to the main character (Guy) by a new friend (Granger):
“When I was a boy my grandfather died, and he was a sculptor. He was also a very kind man who had a lot of love to give the world, and he helped clean up the slum in our town; and he made toys for us and he did a million things in his lifetime; he was always busy with his hands. And when he died, I suddenly realized I wasn’t crying for him at all, but for the things he did. I cried because he would never do them again, he would never carve another piece of wood or help us raise doves and pigeons in the back yard or play the violin the way he did, or tell us jokes the way he did. He was part of us and when he died, all the actions stopped dead and there was no one to do them just the way he did. He was individual. He was an important man. I’ve never gotten over his death. Often I think, what wonderful carvings never came to birth because he died. How many jokes are missing from the world, and how many homing pigeons untouched by his hands. He shaped the world. He did things to the world. The world was bankrupted of ten million fine actions the night he passed on.” (3.361)
and later by Granger again…
“Grandfather’s been dead for all these years, but if you lifted my skull, by God, in the convolutions of my brain you’d find the big ridges of his thumbprint. He touched me. As I said earlier, he was a sculptor.”
His grandfather had told him to “Stuff your eyes with wonder” and “Life as if you’d drop dead in ten seconds. See the world.”
And reading this part came at exactly the right time. When you’re dealing with the death of a loved one, it’s hard not to be selfish. We’re always missing the times we spent with those who have passed, and that’s OK. I think about Shaaban every day. I’ll continue to reflect on my friendship with him and in doing that, I’ll continue to better myself as a person because that’s what he did every single day.
Rest in Peace, Forever Friend!