On a cold February evening I learned one of life’s biggest lessons: appreciate what you have at present because once it’s taken away from you, all you’ll have left are memories. For me that ‘it’ was my fifteen month old niece, Bano.
“Thak, Thak,” I hear noise coming from across the hallway. I look over at the clock on my side table, reading 1:35 a.m. As I dash out of bed and rush through the wooden door, I hear my sister Mana (Bano’s mom) yelling, “Deervaza kholo, jaldi,” open the door, quickly. By the time I make it across the hallway to my parents’ room, I see my parents, and Mana, with Bano held close to her chest, getting ready to leave the house.
As they gather their things, I look deep into Bano’s big hazel eyes. I don’t see a baby who has brain damage, kidney failure or even the flu, but I see the same baby that was taking her first steps just a few months prior. This same baby would reach out her arms and wobble to the front door just as I came through the door from school. As I get deeply lost in those eyes, the two black pig tails, and the red chubby cheeks, I hear my sister talking to me. After forcing my mind to come back to reality, I hear my sister telling me to take Bano to the car.
I, being the youngest of six children, did as I was told. I took Bano into my arms and started my way down the cream carpeted stairs. As I was going down the stairs, I held her chubby hands and continued to take her to the car, not knowing that it would be the last time that I would ever hold her. Just as I reach the car, I see Mana running out the front door and getting herself fastened in my parents’ Black Avalon. I try my best to hold back the tears. What happened in the next few minutes is a blur: the scent of red chili peppers burning, phones with their loud, obnoxious rings going off, tears streaming down faces making a stain of their own on clothing, and tissues scattered everywhere.
The events of that morning didn’t hit me until that afternoon. After coming back from school, my sister Amina and I were standing in the kitchen talking about what occurred earlier. While we’re talking, my older brother Haroon walks in from the garage door to tell us the news that would start a flood of tears from our eyes. Bano had passed away.
We immediately got ourselves together, at least as much as we could, and headed out the doors to go to the Children’s Mercy Hospital because that’s where Bano had taken her last breaths. It was on the way there that we were made aware of how everything had happened. On the way to the hospital was when Bano actually passed away, in her mom’s arms. Everything else that happened that day I can’t even bring myself to think about again.
This was the day that I learned my biggest lesson: to appreciate everything I have because I never know what the future holds. I have always heard people tell me this but it really didn’t click for me until I lost something that I loved the most. I can’t really say that I didn’t appreciate Bano, but I can say that I wish I had done a lot of things differently. I wish I could go back to the summertime when I spent the days at Bano’s house. I wish I could get the chance to get up when I was watching the best movie ever, just to make Bano a bottle of milk. I wish I could turn the clock of reality back to when I was living in the moment, living like I would not ever see any of my loved ones again, living like it was just them and me, living like it would be our last day. I just wish to have that little angel wobbling around our house with that unforgettable smile, and unimaginable personality. I guess I can’t always get what I want, or need, but still, I wish …