The Honour of Being A Daughter

This happened recently and I’ve been uncertain as to how or what to post, so forgive me if it is a little without context.

Recently, mama had a health scare which landed us in the hospital. The Doctor feared it was something…not good. Either that or muscle pain. (I know, I know…the gulf that exists between the two potentials is ridiculous.)

Due to the nature of the pain and the fear of the Doctor, tests were performed immediately and we weren’t allowed to leave before the results came back. I hadn’t been in the room when the Doctor explained to mama what it could be, and so it was mama who told me.

By Allah’s mix of my grandparent’s genetics, mama’s eyes are a stunning and unusual crystal pale green. Her younger sister has what can only be described as yellow eyes, a younger brother with lime green eyes and a third brother with…someone once described another’s eye colour as “seafoam green” and I am using this to describe my uncle Nasser’s eyecolour.

All of the siblings have black hair and so they have always made for a stunning family. Mama was always the prettiest, her reputation and beauty preceded her in Gaza. She was the storybook “the prettiest girl in the city” because Gaza was small enough that everyone knew everyone else. And by small, we’re still counting in the thousands. Here’s a photo of mama at my age…

mama

I’m lucky I look like baba because if I had my mother’s looks, I would be charging people money to look at me. That’s not true, I’m kidding; I would just be sleeping with them. Kidding. 

When mama is emotional or tired, her eyes become an even more vivid shade of that same green that wallahi glows. When she was telling me what the Doctor said it could be, her eyes were the greenest I’d ever seen them. And although she was looking directly at me, I could tell she wasn’t really focusing on me and it scared the sh*t out of me because I could taste the fear resonating from her body, and if I could have eaten that pain away and carried it with me for the rest of my life, I would have. I will never be prepared to lose Her. I just can’t. It’s just not a possibility. Never.

After she finished telling me, she put her head in her hands and placed her elbows on her knees. I sat next to her and did what she’d done to me on so many occasions: I put my hand on her back and read what little Quran I know by heart. I couldn’t sit there for very long because it felt as though my chest were going to explode.

During that same lapse in time there was an 83-year-old man sitting across from us. Earlier in the evening he’d fallen down the stairs and had called his friend and asked him to bring him to the hospital to make certain all was well. The Doctor came in and told him – in front of us – that the scan showed he had two cysts at the front of his brain. The cysts were bleeding and they’d already called in the neurosurgeon. He wasn’t allowed to eat because they were going to perform surgery immediately. When he heard this news, his response was a stressed giggle and a “I could really use a beer” and although that was funny, it just made my chest tighter.

I excused myself to grab a coffee, make a call and go to the washroom. In reality, what I did was simply go to the washroom where I let my heart break and chest explode as quietly as possible. I sat down and cried with my hands over my mouth so no one would hear. (I think I’ve already said this but among the millions of things for which I am thankful is that I can cry for hours, wash my face and within a moment look as though nothing had happened.)

When the Doctor came to give us the results, I was watching mama. She was looking at the Doctor as would a child their saviour. There was so much fear and adoration and hope in those green eyes that I couldn’t look away; the Doctor most definitely couldn’t either. She looked like she was a four year old waiting to find out whether the world was going to be okay or not.

…and she was told that the world was going to be okay.

With that, she put her head down and just listened to the questions I then took it upon myself to ask. Alhamdulilah, it was the exact opposite of the worst and it was nothing more than muscle pain. Just as quickly as the fear had stepped into our lives, so too did it leave.

When the Doctor left, mama still had her head lowered and I could see she was shaking again. I walked over to wrap her in my wool jacket and as I reached around, she leaned her forehead onto my heart and cried. I kissed the top of her head and couldn’t do anything but hold my breath because I knew that anything else would have caused an emotional collapse and at that moment, there was only room for strength.

Sometimes it’s exhausting being an only child and though as a younger girl, I didn’t appreciate it fully, it’s only as an adult that I understand and respect what parents are: they are giants and must be treated as such.

I understand this will likely shift should I marry and have children of my own, but I can’t imagine that it will shift away from, but rather that it will make my heart expand to include everyone.

What I may have in teenage folly considered a potential burden, is now something I am honoured to carry (and I do so) with pride.

As we were leaving, I went to find the old man but they had already taken him away to surgery. I had wanted to give him a kiss on the cheek and wish him well, and I hate that I went out too late. I’ve kept him in my prayers since and I hope that he’s also been told that the world is going to be okay.

At the moment, mama and I are hitting a rough patch and I miss her. I ache for her, actually. She is my best friend and the only individual in the world with whom I wish to share my heart, but right now, and at her request, I can not. Every night, I touch my forehead down to my prayer mat and ask for her…inshallah all of what is happening is happening for the right reasons.

I rarely ask you for anything, but I’ll ask that you remember her in your prayers, please.