Stop All the Clocks

On the evening of March 31, 1999, my mother quietly died. If hard-pressed, I can probably write about any subject, but not this one yet. My heart still aches from missing her eight years later. My life is split in two along one distinct line: before the death of my mother and after the death of my mother. I hope that I would be able to tell the whole world one day what a great person, what an exceptional woman, what a devoted mother, what a loving wife she had been.

I should have cried more but in the days following her death I convinced myself that the time would come when I can be alone and mourn her privately. It never came, and the pain is still bottled up inside.

I need to rest my head on her shoulder and tell her that I am tired when I am. I need to embrace her and break her the good news when they come my way. I need her today as I needed her on the day I was born.

In her memory, I would like to share with you this overwhelming poem “Funeral Blues, 1936” by Wystan Hugh Auden (1907 – 1973).

Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone,
Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone.
Silence the pianos and with muffled drum
Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come.

Let aeroplanes circle moaning overhead
Scribbling on the sky the message [She] is Dead,
Put crépe bows round the white necks of the public doves,
Let the traffic policemen wear black cotton gloves.

[She] was my North, my South, my East and West,
My working week and my Sunday rest,
My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song,
I thought that love would last forever: 'I was wrong'

The stars are not wanted now, put out every one;
Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun;
Pour away the ocean and sweep up the wood.
For nothing now can ever come to any good.


Dubai Jazz said…
Abu Fares, I am speechless, I don't know if any thing I am going to say would help to ease your long-lasting grief...
May God rest your mother's soul.
On the 21st of this month, while the whole world was celebrating mother's day, I wanted to post a tribute and consolation for those who had to live that day away from their mothers. I had a song in mind, but for some technical shortcoming on my part, i couldn't attach it to the post...
The song writer has once said that the lyrics has been inspired by the demise of his mother, and that the opening lines came to him in a dream, where he had this kind of enigmatic conversation with her…

"Drops of Jupiter"
Now that shes back in the atmosphere
With drops of jupiter in her hair, hey, hey
She acts like summer and walks like rain
Reminds me that theres time to change, hey, hey
Since the return from her stay on the moon
She listens like spring and she talks like june, hey, hey
Tell me did you sail across the sun
Did you make it to the milky way to see the lights all faded
And that heaven is overrated
Tell me, did you fall for a shooting star
One without a permanent scar
And did you miss me while you were looking at yourself out there
Lujayn said…
Aaakh ya Abu Fares, I dont know what to say. Time does lessen the raw grief, but it doesnt stop you missing those moments you had with your mother. Allah yirhama, she comes through as exceptional through you.
The Syrian Brit said…
May her soul rest in peace, Abu Fares..
I sincerely hope that, one day, you will come to terms with this immense loss..
They say the pain never lessens, but its sharp edge is blunted with the passage of time..
I have no doubt that she would be looking down at you from Heaven, and saying proudly: 'That's my son!..'
Arab Lady said…
i'm speechless too
loved the poem so much..very touching

lately have been thinking about my life without my father lasama7ala..i can't accept the idea so i cant tell how it hurts to lose a beloved person..may allah give u strength & fulfill ur life with love and peace..pray 4 her abu faris
Black Hawk said…
Dear Abufares...May her soul rest in peace..
الله يرحمها و يرحمنا
May Allah save all mothers.
Abufares said…
Dear Dubai Jazz
Thank you for the lovely song. For the last 8 years I've been dreaming about dreaming about my mother. I know, I rarely dream (in my sleep that is). But, just once, I would like to see her again.
Abufares said…
Thank you Lujayn for the heartfelt Aaakh.
I owe it to myself to write about my mom. The words will come on their own one day and I will sure share them with you.
She is indeed one special lady.
Your words gave me great comfort.
Abufares said…
Hey Syrian Brit
You're right, the edge is blunt but once it touches a raw nerve the pain is still immense. Death is the only absolute truth and I have long come to accept and even embrace it.
There is no message here, just for anyone with parents to spend as much time with them as possible, to cherish the moments of closeness. One day, today will be no more, except for a distant memory. We should make the best of time with our loved ones as long as they are around.
Abufares said…
Hi ArabLady
Thank you for your kind words. Allah Ykhaliki La Abouki w Ykhalilek Yah.
I appreciate your kind thoughts.
Abufares said…
Black Hawk
May Allah save all mothers indeed. You know what, it still is so much easier for a son to grieve his mother than the other way around. Alhamdu Lillah for the way things are.
Shannon said…
It's been nearly three years since I lost my mother, and although the pain has dulled, not a day passes when I don't think about her.

I don't know if there is anything really to say... I'm sorry doesn't really work. I can empathize with your pain, and I hope there comes a time and a way when you can mourn but never forget.
Ihsan said…
This is my biggest fear ever. Losing my mom! I can imagine everything but not that. I can relate to what you said, my father filled similar place in my life and his deah was the seperating line between before and after.

May she rest in peace.
Unknown said…
I remember when I was 18 yeas old, I went out with my aunt, she told me that her biggest fears was to lose her mother, I didn't get it then.
Tetta died two years ago, my aunt is still devastated, and I am terrified.
The more you are scared the more you escape thinking about it.
One thing I am scared it happen, cause it will happen one day, I afraid I won't be there.
i wanted to show some support to you Abu Fares..but i ended up here..
Anonymous said…
This dates back to school time so I apologize for forgetting which french writer I'm quoting and how exact the words are. But I always regarded this saying as quite comforting:
"Ma mere est morte...desormais, elle habite en moi."

Unknown said…
Alla yir7ama, ya Abufares.
Abufares said…
Thank you Shannon
I, too, don't know what to say. Death is a fact of life. We accept its inevitability yet when it hits home we tend to be less rational about it.
May God bless your mom's soul.
Abufares said…
Hi Ihsan
So nice of you to share.
May Allah protect your Mom and bless the soul of your father.
We are all heading down that road, each in due time.
Abufares said…
You were a great support, much more than you thought.
Life goes on my friend, a superficial cut here, a deep wound there, yet we persist.
Abufares said…
Thank you Lost Somewhere...
So true.
Abufares said…
T3eesh Ya Omar Ya Tayeb
Unknown said…
Could this be any more painful than it already is?

Just wanted to share theses amazing words,

"Who can say for certain
Maybe you’re still here
I feel you all around me
Your memories so clear

Deep in the stillness
I can hear you speak
You’re still an inspiration
Can it be ?
That you are mine
Forever love
And you are watching over me from up above

And I believe
That angels breathe
And that love will live on and never leave

Fly me up
To where you are
Beyond the distant star
I wish upon tonight
To see you smile
If only for awhile
To know you’re there
A breath away’s not far
To where you are"

Eight years?? I am not sure if I would be able to hold it for eight minutes...

Abufares said…
Hi RnD
Thank you for the amazing words indeed. I wouldn't say that I've been holding it for 8 years, but I'd really like to let go of my trapped emotions, something, I'm afraid, I was never good at.
I like to share the happy times and memories with all. The sad ones, I just keep inside and tell myself that I would get to them later. More often than not, they just get stacked on top of each other. And as times go by, they get harder to retreive.
Unknown said…
That's why you look ten yeard older, :P, just teasing ya Abu Fares,

I mean I am the last person who might lecture you about how beautiful life is and how shorter it gets everyday... but c'mon, let it out..

Dr.Mad said…
Nothing to add, hope you will find inner peace
Angel said…
I know that NO words can ease your heart and sorrow and nothing, and I mean nothing, can replace those who have left us; HOWEVER, no one EVER dies so long as his/her memory is engraved in our hearts and minds.

Writing how it feels is a good thing to do...... Just find the right way to let your emotions be expressed and released freely...

I am sure of one thing, your mother must be proud to have such a loving son......proud of her son’s achievements..... so proud to have a son so thoroughly skilled; who sees through all falseness to the goodness, through all the darkness in our world to the joy that lies beneath....

May Allah rest her soul
Anonymous said…
I had the pleasure of meeting your Mom. A very nice and loving lady indeed with lots of stories to tell.

May God have mercy on her soul.

Abu Abdo
Abufares said…
Restless in Dubai
You're absolutely right my friend. Life is too short and precious.
Don't worry, I'm out of it, although it's hard to let it out. And listen to this:

"When you’re 50 you start thinking about things you haven’t thought about before. I used to think getting old was about vanity—but actually it’s about losing people you love. Getting wrinkles is trivial". Joyce Carol Oates (b. 1938-

BTW, I'm not that old yet :-)
Abufares said…
Hi Andre
Just by commenting you've helped a lot. Thanks.
Abufares said…
Hello Angel

Reading all these comments, and your of course, make me realize the awesome power of the word. Here we are, mostly total strangers in real life, yet we're sharing and helping each other by reaching out. As far as I'm concerned, that's the greatest positive social atribute modern technology has brought us.
Thank you for the kindest of words and the softest of heart-felt emotions.
I really appreciate it.
Abufares said…
Abu Abdo my Friend
You reminded me of her beautiful stories. She was one gret story teller, you're right.
Thank you dear friend and I miss you.
Anonymous said…
Dear Abufares
I was putting off reading this post on mom, God bless her soul,for the last few days. When I read the title, I cried and logged off. It wasn't till tonight that I decided to read it and shed more tears. I miss her every day and every second of my life and I wish that she's in a better place. But I guess I'm lucky because sometimes I dream of her and I talk to her. I think she's watching over us.
Abufares said…
Dear Mannona
I know that you always read but seldom comment.
It's hard for a brother and sister to talk about their late mom without shedding more than a few tears. Just reading these few lines of yours was a great relief for me.
Thank you for being here when I need you.
Abu Steif said…
I remember this sad occasion when you lost your mom hat we all knew, loved and had some good memories about her visit to Lafayette. I remember also when you this poem in our newsletter "The Shanniken" and it was and it will always be a very touching piece that will always bring tears in my eyes every time I read it. I kept a copy of it in my "Food for thoughts" folder on my computer. I read it again when I lost my mother on August 18, 2005 and really wanted to stop the clocks may for just few minutes and may be go back in times a tad just to tell her for one last time how much I love her. I can still can tell her how much I love her and I know she will listen but the thing I will miss most is that spark in her eyes, the smile on her face and the aura over her head when she replies "Wa ana Kaman bhebak habibi abou steif"
I miss her so much that I can feel her presence around because she is my guardian angel.
GOD bless her soul and hope she rest in peace and the same goes to your mom and everybody that we lost and will lose in the future

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