"Heya, Hadi, welcome Mommy's first cousin!" That is what Zakaria said when I let him know my warrior cousin, Shahinda Baji had passed away last night. As I sit at my kitchen table and look out at the window and see a beautiful cardinal (the bird, Amir, not clergy), I am yet again faced with wanting to be able to hug a family member but not being able to but also realizing they are no longer in pain. Freaking cancer, you suck. My Shahinda Baji was the cool one who listened to Madonna as a teenager. She just placed an order for a Hadi dab shirt. The throat cancer took away her ability to enjoy food and yet she cooked me and the kiddos delicious desserts when we visited her in Chicago. And her beautiful daughter who has dealt with too much in her young age but still has a smile that shows she has inherited her mother's tenacity. Be strong. I am so sick of hearing that because of what it implies. What does it mean? Strength to me means bawling my eyes and fully admitting that yes, Allah (SWT) has put us on this Earth and will test us but not admitting that the tests SUCK is denying my emotions and I think that is the opposite of being strong. To hold in those tears and to not yell at how unfair it seems doesn't make me strong. Yes, I wish Hadi was physically with us to laugh at the fact that Aamir allowed Zakaria to purchase $45 of M&Ms at the M&M store without realizing it (per pound, Aamir, per pound!) but I know he is laughing up in Jannah and I would like to believe Shahinda Baji is telling him stories about how obnoxious I was as a kid and wouldn't let her sleep in my bed because I felt her and the other older cousins were making fun of me. I also want to think she is telling him about how incredible my father is and how he can now give great hugs.