Happy Birthday Baba

Last year I wrote about my father, it was big deal for me to break a wall of silence about my missing parent. I find myself thinking about him in a very different light after that post. I think about resurrecting him and bringing him back to life. To trying to tell stories about him and bringing him closer to us as a family. It was interesting to see the reactions from my siblings and my mother. Some of us have made more peace with our histories and for others the scars are still raw.

Well once again it is his birthday today, and my gift to him and to myself on this day is to remember the man that was my father. And to do so publicly and out load because he was buried in silence for far too long.

I will tell a story from my foggy memory to keep your memory alive and to pass it on to my little brother who never really knew you, and to my neices and nephews. One of things I remember quite vividly was you never could eat alone. I remember you coming home tired and sweaty from a hot day’s work in the sun. Coming back to our home in Salwa, Kuwait. I remember a spread of food being laid out for you in the living room on the coffee table in front of the TV. We had all eaten hours earlier, but you would insist that we join you. I realize today that I carry that tradition with me, I will always eat, even if it is just a nibble, with others. A part of me can not let a friend or loved one eat alone. I now know this comes from you :), so thank you for a lovely habit.

Happy Birthday, I am glad your memories keep coming back.

I miss you. I miss you so terribly. I miss how you made me smile no matter how I was feeling. I miss how safe you made feel. I miss how we talked for hours about nothing and it all seemed so important. I miss how you put a spring in my steps and made the world pop with color and life. I miss how full you made an empty room. I miss how words seem to fill the blank left by an unfinished sentence. I miss the words that tumbled and spewed out of my keyboard from the simple ideas you put in my head. I miss the inspiration you put in my life. I miss our morning conversations and our endless nights filled with the radio waves of a lonely hearts station even though our hearts were not lonely. I miss the turmoil of not touching you despite your closeness. I miss feeling all the way to the deepest darkest core of my soul and knowing that pain meant I can feel where there was nothing before. I miss you. I miss you so terribly. But I don’t want you anymore. I miss you, but I don’t want you.

Three years ago three bombs went off in three different hotels. Many killed and injured from the blast, many more traumatized. When asked where was I at the time? I was at the 3rd circle and heard the explosions. I had my back to the third circle walking to the second. When I heard the sound my friend turned to me and said “What was that?” I dismissed it as fireworks again or even construction, we didn’t even look back! Twenty minutes later if not less I was working to make sure all my American students were safe and had to track down each one of them. I worked two phones and was fielding calls from my boss, from students, from families and from my friends and family. I even ended up taking a cab that night to one of my student’s homes to make sure she was OK. It was one of the most taxing and stressful few hours that I have spent at work having to invoke the emergency response system and account for the 25 some souls I was responsible for.

By the end of the night I had done my job but the enormity of what happened had not sunken in. I remember the next day much more clearly when it really hit me! I remember the silence that descended on the whole city. The eerie feeling of driving through the streets of amman and not hearing a sound. Not a car engine, no honking, no music, no street noises… nothing. It was as if someone had hit the mute button. People were walking zombies. There was anger, disbelief, shock, horror, and sorrow. Most importantly there was solidarity, there was unification, and everyone was your brother or sister. That afternoon the world came alive again; Jordanian flags, solidarity marches, patriotic songs were everywhere. People came together.

I remember my distressed response; I cooked and cooked and cooked and cooked out of distress. I remember the feeling of emptiness. I remember the shock that choked me up. I remember the sorrow. I remember the anger. Senseless murder and terrorism! I hope that we never experience this ever again. I personally have had enough war, murder, terror, pain, fear and displacement.