Even the cat food smells scrumptious. If the pseudo hunger doesn't take me out then the thirst certainly will. For suhoor (pre dawn meal, basically breakfast but very early) I had Oatmeal with ginger & cranberries and made a bit of a well in the middle with real butter and sugar in the raw. It was decadent. I want more. I was planning to get a nice food porn picture of it but somehow it hurried itself into my mouth and before I could stop it, the sweet grains & berries were in my belly happily nourishing me. I am missing my coffee. I weaned myself off the caffeine weeks ago, or rather rearranged the timing of my habit. What I miss is the ritual. This time of day I sit, sipping on sweet, hot, Arabic coffee with a smidgen of cream in it (sacrilege, I know).
I am just now starting my fast, 9 days late. I had the pleasure of being attacked by 3 kidney stones the
Seekers Guidance offers each year on Ramadan. I know the class by heart now but I take it anyway because each year I end up discovering some new thing. I was ready. I was going to own Ramadan. Instead, my body owned me, or rather my creator owned me. Maybe that is the wisdom in it. Maybe Allah knocked me down off the Ramadan bullet train I was on. Maybe I was supposed to slow down. I am unsure. I had been feeling ill for a week or so, but not really ill just icky. I had some aches and pains but nothing abnormal for a woman of child baring age. (grrr) Then on Monday evening I suddenly had much worse pain. I was heading out the door to go eat dinner and then go to the beach to try and see the moon. I was excited. I took a class. I knew how this was done. I was ready. Then BLAM! A pain so severe I can not compare it to anything I have ever experienced and I have felt pain before. A pain so severe it made me vomit instantly. I ended up at the emergency room and my friends ended up carrying on with plans. I felt so alone. I was there in the ER all by myself, unable to walk, vomiting in public and bellowing like a crazy person. I was humiliated and lonely. There was no one there to comfort me and tell me I was in fact not dying. There was no one there to question the nurses about the long wait. There was no one there to hold my hijab back while I puked. The pain got worse by the minute and finally it was either my turn or my bellowing had gotten intolerable and I was wheeled back into a room. I was given pain medication and suddenly felt like I could probably run a marathon or two. I took to Facebook to feel sorry for myself because I was alone. I was home by morning, medicated and asleep.
Ramadan arrived while I was knocked out. I was no longer pumped up, I was sad. I had missed it. Sure Ramadan is a month long but I had plans. I made spreadsheets. I was ready. There was no way I could fast in this condition. I know that illness is a perfectly legit reason not to fast, in fact it would have been haram for me to fast because my body has rights over me and I can not do things to my body that would cause it undue harm. I do not get sick often, though the last year or so I have been sick more than in my whole life. I have had colds and allergies but never something like this and I was alone.
There is nothing worse than being sick, drugged and feverish and having to get up in the 100 degree heat, get on a bus and get groceries and cat food.
Ramadan is a time of year when friends and family come together. You eat together every night, you speak more often and you take more concern with those around you. Islam in general puts great emphasis on friendships and relationships with family. Having just broken up with my best friend I knew Ramadan was going to be especially lonely. Ramadan usually is a rather lonely time for me. My fathers side is Muslim but they have all passed away. My mothers side is Christian and they do not care to hear anything about my faith & I am not close with any of them except my mother. So the happy, boisterous Ramadans of childhood are long gone. I have gotten somewhat used to being alone. The Muslim community in my city is very disorganized and we have no Imam. We have very few activities and even the ones we do have I am not able to attend. The mosque is a 2hour bus ride each way and it just does not work out. My Muslim friends live out of state or over seas. We talk via Skype and text but it is not the same as having someone next to you. It is very hard to fast when you are home alone all day. I am pretty sure I heard the coconut cream pie in my fridge talk to me about a hour ago. It was telling me "Oh come on, eat me, you know how good I taste. All my creamy, sweet, coconutty goodness, I am just what you need. No one is hear, no one will know. I won't tell if you won't tell" ...
Aside from the unscrupulous pie that tries to persuade me, I am prone to depression and sometimes feel like there is just no point in all this. Those moments are fleeting but they are there none the less. I have to remind myself that I do not fast during Ramadan because of the ritual or the people in my life, or lack there of. I fast because I am submitting my desires and my will to that of my creator and training my ego to recognize those even less fortunate than me.
My way of rising above the fact that I am alone during a month long holiday designed to bring people together is to get OCD about it and plan it out, have a routine and maximize my benefits. Allah has told us that if we say we love him and submit to him we will be tested. I should know this by now but I am rather daft. I made goals, I made a statement. I said I was going to do this and that. I had plans. I was ready. Allah dealt me a swift blow to let me know who the best of planners is: Him, always Him. He sent me a test. I made these lofty goals and Allah took away the first third of Ramadan and left me with the last two thirds to accomplish my goals. Challenge accepted.
Goal #1 To pray the 5 daily prayers on time. This has always been hard for me. It is hard for me to do anything on time. I am home alone all day and night, there are no constraints on my time. I am free to do whatever, whenever and yet I pray late every single time. It is not planned. I have 10 adhan alarms. I always end up trying to do 50 things before I pray when what I should be doing is just praying on time and organizing my closet later. It is funny how you always remember you need to do random tasks like scrape out the oven or organize your pantry right when it is time to pray.
Goal #2 Read the entire Quran 3 times this year. During Ramadan Muslims are supposed to read the entire Quran once. Ramadan is the month the Quran was first revealed. I planned to read it once in the first 20 days and twice in the last 10 days. I still have time. #rockymode
Goal #3 Pray at least 8 rakah of taraweeh prayers every other night. Taraweeh prayers are done in the evening and the actions are basically the same as the regular 5 daily prayers but different portions of Quran are recited and supplications are made. The prayers are optional but beneficial.
Goal #4 Stand the night in prayer at least one night of the last 10 nights of Ramadan. Laylatal Qadr (night of power) is the night the Quran was revealed and this night holds many blessings, the main one being that if you stand this entire night in prayer all your sins are forgiven. The thing is we have no idea when this night is. We know it is in the last 10 nights and most likely in the last 5 nights and that it is most likely an odd numbered night. The 27th and 29th nights are considered to be the most likely possibility but any of the 10 are possible. We have no idea which ones it is so standing all 10 nights is the best way to be sure you got it. Doing this is not required, however it is, obviously, strongly encouraged.
Goal #5 Memorize at least 2 separate portions of Quran. I have not yet decided which. It can be just one verse or an entire chapter. I am awaiting inspiration.
Goals #6 To walk away from empty and idle conversation or arguments. This is a huge one! This is something very hard for me any time of the year but during Ramadan this waste of time is forbidden.
Goal #7 I will not sleep all day and stay awake all night as this totally defeats the entire purpose of fasting and in fact means I am not fasting at all. This is a common trend among Muslims and it is not cool. I am a night owl by nature. I thrive at night. I am nocturnal. I get stuff done at night. Napping is OK and in fact both science and Islam agree that a nap in the afternoon and sleep broken up into two chunks of time is actually more beneficial to the brain than one chunk of sleep time. This will be hard to do without coffee.
......I just went and smelled the pitcher of iced coffee I have in the fridge. I feel like a crazy person but that coffee smelled like pure bliss. Only 9 more hours until that dark enchantress is flowing in my veins...
I was so bummed that I did not get to implement my plans the way I had wanted to. The 9 days I lost I will have to make up again. I can make them up in cooler months with shorter days. This is part of Allah's mercy. I also take comfort that in my sickness and the insane amount of pain I went through there is forgiveness of sins. Alhamdulillah! I am faced with so many opportunities all at once for my sins to be forgiven and I am worried about my spreadsheets! #priorities
I will survive this. This is only day one and it has only been 6.5 hours. I am not withering away. I had plans. I was ready. Those plans are still doable, inshaAllah.