30 January 2010


Today I'm throwing out the last of the bereavement floral arrangements...an action that's yanking me back into tears again. I'm making one last combo arrangement out of all the hardy survivors that still look lively that will probably last another week or so. One happy thing though is that I've saved and dried every rose Murad gave me. I now have a full container of pre-pot pourri fodder that will give me another subtle reminder of what I loved and lost everytime I walk into my house.

28 January 2010

The perception of perspectives

It's weird how a few days can change everything in your life. Sunday January 10th was one of the best days in recent memory. Wednesday January 13th was the worst day of my life.

On that Sunday, Murad was feeling down both physically and emotionally, so I gladly spent a relaxing day snoozing and cuddling with him in his hospital bed, giving him a massage, watching movies and talking. It was a wonderful day that made us both happy. He had lost his appetite again so fed me his hospital food when it came into the room.

His condition didn't change much on Monday, but on Tuesday Murad turned yellow as his liver started to shut down and the medical staff suddenly became a lot more alarmed about his condition. He began to get disoriented (originally attributed to his dosages of Delotid painkillers and the effects of his non-functioning liver). I spent the night with him in his room on Tuesday night, but was so distraught by his pain and wandering around the room plus the stress of still trying to make appearances at work, I had to leave the hospital in tears around 4am in order to get a few hours of sleep. I was back at his side at 8am, alarmed that things had taken such a sudden turn for the worse. It was at this time we discovered he was no longer producing urine, and his kidneys we no longer functioning. I decided not to go into work until his catheter was replaced (they were trying to eliminate the possibility that something had become blocked) and his bone marrow biopsy was done. His sister Anissa was back from Miami so she sat with him during the afternoon while I went into work around 2pm for a few hours in the afternoon. I was back at the hospital by 5.

From 5pm to midnight on Wednesday, I could only watch as my lover fell apart before my eyes, powerless and angry that I could do nothing for him but hug him, hold his hands, caress his head and try to comfort him. At the time I couldn't conceive that this would be our last day together. In the evening he was in so much distress, all I could do was support him while he tried to stand up and sit down to relieve his pain. We had several long long hugs. I was very upset that he had broken into a cold sweat and was becoming more visibly distressed by the hour while trying to swat off the lab rats who were showing up in the hospital room what seemed every 15 minutes for more blood samples from a body that had no more blood to give. I didn't realize it at the time but I think he knew he didn't have much time and was hugging me goodbye. Just before he was wheeled down to ICU we gave each other one last long look. It was going to be the last time I ever saw him as living Murad, the person I loved. He was no longer able to communicate verbally but we could tell what the other was thinking by what the eyes were saying. He was very scared, so was I.

I am still trying to figure out what Murad was thinking at that moment - was he scared because he knew he was going to die? Was he scared because the future was uncertain? Was he distressed, mentally impaired, or overly disoriented by that time? As someone pointed out to me later, maybe he was scared because he realized he was going to lose me and everything else that had meaning to him in this world? Maybe all of these crossed his mind at the same time which would seem a reasonable assumption. The speculation will haunt me forever without any answers, obviously, but I will never ever forget that final look in his eyes as he looked at me for the last time. It was terrifying.

The doctors came out of ICU around 2am and told us that Murad had basically quit breathing on his own. There was a strong possibility of brain and heart damage. When we got into ICU to see him at 2:30am, he was completely hooked up to machines and unconscious. His open eyes had broken blood vessels in them, and there was one tear rolling down his face...something I remember vividly. The machines were breathing for him, his body would shudder with each inhalation/exhalation cycle of the respirator. I went into complete shock after realization of the gravity of the situation hit me.

Thursday, the day he died, was physically more upsetting than mentally. I was so distraught and sleep-deprived by Thursday morning that when the call came from the SPH social worker at 8:30am stating that Murad had only hours or minutes to live, I already knew he wasn't going to survive the day. Reality hit me as I collapsed into a pile or tears on my apartment couch while trying to get ready to head to the hospital for one last day. I made the difficult call to Doug and Ian to meet me at ICU as soon as they could. I had wanted to spend the night in the ICU waiting room but the family convinced me to go home since there was nothing more I could do for him. We still dropped his belongings at his apartment on the way home at 3am; I was still convinced that I would be going back there to pick them up for him soon once he was out of ICU again. I was still prepared to be by his side no matter what shape he was in once he got out of this situation. How quickly the perspective changed.

He wasn't under the influence of any drugs at this time but was unconscious. His eyes were closed. We took turns talking to him. I rubbed and scratched his head over and over again. He was so cold. His sister Tasnim sang to him after she arrived in the morning, and his falling heartrate sped up for a period of time after she would sing to him. Bastions of family members shuffled by his bedside paying their last respects to him. I'm not sure how much of all of this he was able to sense. Many still prayed for a miracle. I was willing to try anything to save Murad, so I prayed along with his family.

Murad died at 3:35pm while the family and I were in conference with the ICU medical staff. His blood pressure had fallen so low there was no way his body was going to be able to maintain itself. He was so full of toxins from his faltering kidneys and liver the dialysis machine he was hooked up to couldn't keep up. His father and sister had only arrived at the hospital less than an hour before. Doug and Ian were at his bedside when his heart stopped. They told him that none of us wanted to see him go, but if he was ready that would be okay.

I've been sort of in a fog ever since. It's been two weeks since he died and a week ago yesterday was the funeral. I've been out to the cemetery three times in the past week (it's only a 15 minute walk from my office), and helping to clean out his apartment four of the last seven nights. It was difficult to move all of his stuff out and do the final checkout on his apartment....last night was the last time I'll ever be at his place. But I am glad that his friends got to claim the best of his clothing and belongings....his fabulousness will transcend his physical self when others are spotted wearing his bold styles and marvellous footwear! I'm also glad that almost all of his furniture will be used by a new immigrant family from Kenya to set themselves up in Vancouver. I managed to hold onto some of his boldest outfits -- the ones that personify Murad most elegantly, IMO, in addition to a few of his favorite pieces of art. Unfortunately we never got to find a good home for his bed and futon, we simply ran out of time. Hmm, running out of time...

I've noticed over the past few days I haven't cried as much as a week ago and I'm starting to feel a bit more level. I still feel such a huge chunk missing from my whole and I haven't quite figured out how to even go about starting to mend it, and I also haven't had much energy or incentive to do much else than drag my ass into work this week and spend the evenings at home on the couch, just thinking and looking at pictures. I've felt the need to talk to others but not the initiative to pick up the phone. Why would I burden people with no vested interest with such upsetting conversation? Why would anyone want to listen? Why would I want to repeat myself over and over again? Typical thought from last week...."I can't call anyone right now, it's 1am and I'm collapsed on the couch but everyone's asleep."

Why won't someone call? Guh. What's the point? I've barely replied back to anyone. There were so many that called and wrote; I just couldn't muster the energy to respond. A week or so ago, all the people that tried to contact me was overwhelming and I couldn't cope with it. Now, no one's trying to contact me and I feel completely alone. This death thing is very strange and complicated, indeed.


He had been sick basically since the beginning of December and I know at the time I was angry, frustrated and upset that the holidays, my birthday, and New Years were going to be ruined because Murad was in the hospital.

Despite all of his pain and stress, he hosted an amazing birthday party for me on December 18th, the same evening the blood vessels in his skin irritated and rashed and only three days before he was admitted into the hospital for the last time.

In my imminent selfishness I was angry that he was going to be in the hospital for the holidays -- all those great plans quashed for this year. Of course, I put on my best face and spent as much time at the hospital as I could. I know this situation completely and utterly sucked for him and in addition to being physically sick, he was also mentally stressed and I wanted to make him feel as comfortable as possible. He kept apologizing again and again and again to me for what he was putting me through....I can't even imagine how he felt, despite my reassurances that nothing mattered more than him recovering and getting the hell out of the hospital.

Being with him was all that mattered despite the impact it might have on me. There were moments when I felt I couldn't cope with the burden of caring for him in the hospital as his entire family was in Florida for the holidays. At one point I asked him to have someone cut their holiday short and come back to help with what was going on. I went back the next day and apologized for being so selfish. He and I could do this together. If only I knew then what I know now.

On New Year's eve, despondent that I was going to be spending my birthday and the New Year's celebration with Murad at the hospital, I came into the ward in the evening after work to discover two dozen red roses there that Murad had arranged to have delivered to the hospital for me. His niece had arranged the drop off but had forgotten to bring a card to attach to the vase. Murad, in his typical creative form, fashioned something to write on by using a strip of medical tape to attach to the vase. On it, he wrote, "Bubu you are the best thing that has ever happened to me. Happy birthday. Love your Mumu".

Despite this being a horrible couple of months, my perspective of the hospital time has changed a lot after everything has unfolded the way it did. Instead of looking at at those three weeks in the hospital as a regrettable experience, I am now looking at it as a very special moment in time, a unique opportunity to spend uninterrupted time with this remarkable man that I fell in love with. It was during the holidays; nothing was open, there was no one around, there were no distractions. There were several days between Christmas Eve and New Years when Murad was very unwell and in ICU (25th-28th) that I spent 16 or 17 hours at the hospital with him each day. I will remember those days forever.

Through some of the stuff I'm reading (god knows my friends that have lost lovers or spouses have been an essential source of help for me to date), I've realized that grieving is the last act of love we have to give those who have died. It seems so final and dramatic, and certainly all that has happened is, I guess, both. I've been very sad the past couple of weeks, but I know that I will/must grieve positively because it is the best and only acceptable way for me to honor an amazing man who gave me so much in so short a time.

When going through a his stuff at his apartment with his sister and niece a week ago, I looked through a bunch of his old photos from the 90s and earlier part of this decade and fascinated at his life. I said to his sister Nafisa, "I'm so jealous that you got to witness Murad's life...I only knew of his last year and I wish that I knew the whole man. We met so late. I only wish I had had more time."
She replied by saying, "You know what Reid? We're jealous of you. You got share his life with him for a short time, spending the past six months with him and the last three weeks in the hospital with him. You got to share his final days, something that the rest of us wish we had but only you had."

Nafisa's response gave me a moment of clarity. We can wish and hope all we want, but all that really matters is the now. Things can change in an instant and if you don't say and do the things you want to say and do today, you may not get the opportunity tomorrow. Funny how perspectives can change so quickly, eh?

I'm trying not to shut myself off from the world that continues outside unabated but it's hard. For the first time in my life, I opened myself up completely to someone. For different reasons, I believe we were both at a point in our lives where we were open to any experiences and possibilities, and were prepared to make ourselves vulnerable in order to find love. It is something that I'd never done to such a degree before and it was quite the experience. Who knew you had to make your self susceptible in order to let someone in? What a concept! I am devastated by the fact that I exposed myself so fully to someone in such a short time, completely assured that we would have all the time in the world to grow on our knowledge of ourselves and the lessons we would learn...and then he disappeared forever. Now that's all gone. I still can't believe it. It doesn't seem real. It certainly doesn't feel the least bit fair.

Regardless, I am trying to approach this in a more constructive way. Even though I only had six months with Murad, the lessons he taught me about love, life and the strength and fragility of both are things that I will have with me for the rest of my life. I am working to integrate these into my being...the worst thing I could do is to ignore or forget these things and live life as if I never learned a these important lessons from this wonderful man.

I still believe it was fate that I met Murad - we had things to teach each other, and we had an intense love to share with each other. We were both open up to the possibilities at the right time. It was a marvellous six months that I will treasure forever. I will eventually get over the fact that it's gone now and respect the experience for what it was...

21 January 2010

Celebration of Murad

My heart is broken that our time together was cut short but I thank the higher power that the Friday night in July when I met Murad we were in the right place at the same time. He gave me so much passion and love in only six months. The intensity of our relationship was overwhelming at times but always left me wanting more. I believed we had lots of time to channel our energy into something incredible and I hesitated at times at the start to jump in completely. I think Murad knew his time here was limited therefore tried to live and love as much as he could as often as he could.

I know I was profoundly loved and he knows he was too. Not just from me, but from everyone he touched.

Every 'heated debate' was always ended with Murad saying, "this is a package deal, take it or leave it". I was amazed how unapologetic he was for who he was and what he was passionate about. It is one of the things I loved about him the most.

Murad was a bright light in a dark room - you had to squint to look at him directly, he was that shiny - and he illuminated everything and everyone around him in a wonderful glow.

I believe I had the fortune to connect with a soulmate. I was even luckier that he was one of the oldest souls one could ever meet.

Out of interest, I googled the key signs of an old soul. How many of these described Murad? I think pretty much all of them.
*giving and caring, often putting others first.
*having a difficult romantic life often with much pain and disappointment.
*more than likely to have a soulmate relationship.
*things just seeming to happen to him and around him, often becoming very dramatic through the seemingly extreme reactions of others.
*events repeating themselves.
*having trouble connecting with family.
*somehow knowing he's different.
*having some psychic intuition and just 'knowing things'.
*finding that he has deeper emotions and passions than most people.
*people having extreme reactions to him - some just adoring him and some seeming to dislike him yet he behaves the same to everyone.
*having an inner creative passion.
*suffering lots of jealousy.
*often being perceived wrongly.
*feeling he doesn't have much free will, like life is being controlled by some outside force.
*often feeling 'stuck' like events keep on happening time after time.

The journey of all of our souls through their many lives is one of growth and learning, from a young soul focused on material things, power, ego and the 'now', to the old soul's higher levels of compassion, truth, destiny, caring, and fairness. Murad's soul was certainly an experienced one.

The main reason soulmates have to part is so that the less developed one catches up with spiritual awakening, connection to his real soul age, and to reconnect with their soulmate to continue the journey at the same level sometime in the future.

Murad taught me so much; how to be vulnerable, how to be resilient, how to be loved, how happiness can be achieved by making those around you happy as well, how to accept that many things are out of our control. He was the oldest of souls. I was so fortunate to have met my soulmatein this existence albeit briefly, have a crazy exchange of new experiences, knowledge and lessons in preparation for the next time we meet. I've never felt so loved in my life and I've never loved anyone so much before. It was destiny that we met and had this incredible journey together. I know he's out there somewhere making other souls look beautiful, surrounding himself with joy and colour.

May the higher power bless you MuMu. I will never forget you, the lessons you taught me, the experiences and emotions you opened me up to, and I look forward to the next time we see each other.

18 January 2010

Murad-ali Hassam Oct. 2 1966 - Jan. 14 2010

My MuMu didn't make it out of ICU and passed on Thursday afternoon. As most of you know he was in the hospital since December 22nd but had been appearing to improve until a sudden downturn in his condition at the end of the past weekend increased in severity and graveness.

It's still a shock and frustrating that our storybook together which just got started will now not get written but I feel so blessed to have met such a remarkable man who impacted my life in so many ways for such a brief intense period. I take solace in knowing he's not in pain anymore and reunited with his mom which he wanted more than anything.

I'm so blessed to have such a wonderful network of family and friends. You truly know what matters in life during times like this.

I will probably be offline for awhile. Thank you everyone for your support.

05 January 2010

Take the Train

Naked airport scanners to be installed in 11 airports within two months
By Jim Bronskill, The Canadian Press

OTTAWA - The government plans to install dozens of scanners that can see through the clothes of travellers in airports across the country.

Transport Minister John Baird will announce plans today to install the machines in 11 airports within two months.

An insider has told The Canadian Press that a total of about 45 scanners, which cost $200,000 apiece, will eventually be in place around Canada.

Initially the machines will turn up in cities including Toronto, Montreal, Ottawa and Vancouver, the source said on condition of anonymity.

The move follows an apparent attempt by a Nigerian man to blow up a jetliner over Michigan by igniting explosives sewn into his underwear.

The system, tested in British Columbia at the Kelowna airport, can enable a screening officer to see whether someone is carrying explosives or other dangerous items.

Last week officials said there were no plans to speed up consideration of the long-discussed scanners in light of the near-disaster.

But the government, under pressure to respond to the dramatic U.S. incident, has decided to make the multimillion-dollar purchase.

The proposal has stirred controversy because the scanner produces a three-dimensional outline of a person's naked body - prompting some to denounce the process as a virtual strip search.

The system received the blessing of the federal privacy czar in October.

Under the plan approved by the privacy chief, the officer would view the image in a separate room and never see the actual traveller.

Only people singled out for extra screening would be scanned, and they would have the option of getting a physical pat-down instead.

Chantal Bernier, the assistant federal privacy commissioner, told a conference the holographic image generated by the scanner makes it difficult to identify the traveller's face.

"You would not know who it is, even if you knew the person was in line," she said at the annual meeting of the Canadian Association for Security and Intelligence Studies.

In addition, the image would be deleted the moment the person leaves the screening portal.

"In our view, these privacy safeguards meet the test for the proper reconciliation of public safety and privacy," Bernier said.

The scanners are already in use at airports in cities including Amsterdam, Moscow and Phoenix. They are also found in the high-security "green zone" of Baghdad and at some U.S. courthouses and prisons.

Bernier added that the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority had done thorough threat assessments that revealed a need to search passengers for weapons that might elude a conventional metal detector.

The privacy commissioner's office recommends a public education campaign to explain the machines, and says minors would be scanned only with the consent of guardians accompanying them.

The air security authority says the low-level radio frequency wave emitted by the body scanner meets Canadian health-and-safety standards.

I'm not so concerned about the privacy issues as the cost. So this will tag an additional $10 million or so onto the Airport Fees, in addition to whatever fuel surcharges we will endure in 2010. So, when is even marginally acceptable train service going to provide us with a viable option to air travel? We're stuck over a barrel, again.

04 January 2010

The Economy of Nothing

Service economy...what a crock. What does that mean exactly? How can you call your economy a legitimate one when you produce nothing of value? Service generation. What are you servicing, who are you servicing? How are they getting these goods and services that you are servicing? It's all about debt and globalization. We used to have the stratification and industrial base here, local and tangible, but now all the heavy lifting has been sent to China and India. What are we left with here? The industry of debt creation and management. Strange ideas, strange days. Everyone's okay with all of this bullshit, that's what perplexes me the most.

Well, the labor economists at Harvard and BLS certainly are stuck inside their respective boxes. NPR reports the new jobs for the new decade:

Top 10 according to these dim bulbs are:

1. Registered nurses

2. Home health aids

3. Customer service representatives

4. Food preparation and serving workers

5. Personal and home care aides

6. Retail salespersons

7. Office clerks

8. Accountants

9. Nursing aides, orderlies and attendants

10. Postsecondary teachers

No one to make things, nobody growing anything. It's all very surreal.

New World Order | Front Porch Republic

New World Order | Front Porch Republic