Ramallah breezes. The call to prayer. The sound of construction echoing across the wadi to us. At this distance, sitting tonight in relatively familiar surroundings, I can finally let myself feel the loss. A little.
Too much letting myself feel would be exactly too much right now.
It’s a strange kind of loss I am feeling. I don’t feel regret, like I thought I might. I don’t doubt the decision we made to leave. But when I got up this morning I felt the loss like this: where is the sound of the breeze? Where is the quiet of the wadi? What have I done? My eyes craved the roads winding down the sides of the wadi, and my ears craved the sound of the masjid calling the faithful and the non-faithful to remember their place in the world. I thought about our little supermarket, Gardens, and I remembered my kids’ favorite snack, a bag of chips made in Jordan called “Abu Tarboosh”. I started to really miss Ramallah. Then, just when I started to get a bit unclear about our decision to leave, reality came back.
If I was waking up in Palestine this morning, I would take the kids to a park. The park would (99% of the time) be empty. I would want to call a friend for a play date, but there would be (99% of the time) no one available. I would spend the afternoon cooking and wishing I could call someone back home. Then I would put the kids in a bath and tuck them off to bed after which Faris and I would have the millionth conversation about how lonely we are and what to do about it. The next day I would wake up and wonder what empty park to take the kids to…
It was a hard year I spent in Palestine, and a beautiful year. I miss Palestine. It’s not impossible that we will live there again sometime. But for now, I need a little peace and a lot of comfort. I need A LOT of comfort. I could use so much comfort that I have extra to give to my kids as we prepare to become a family with Baba overseas.
I am not ready to be a single mom. 2 weeks ago the thought hadn’t crossed my mind. But now, Baba is about to go from being a super involved father to an image on video chat, and a voice on the phone. How do you tell a 2 year old and a 4 year old that their Baba is leaving? It doesn’t matter how sound the reason, and it doesn’t matter how short or long the amount of time. To a 2 year old and a 4 year old gone is gone, and measurements of time are incomprehensible.
There is still Sufyan’s surgery to get through, which was postponed again because he is still sick and the risk of developing pneumonia is too high given that he will need a breathing tube during the surgery (which can push bacteria down into his lungs. Or he may have a coughing spell while under anesthesia).
Four Years Old! 4!
In the midst of this all, Sufyan turned 4! We are going to give him the biggest birthday re-do anyone has ever seen. Poor guy. We did have a birthday party, though. Just the 4 of us with balloons and cupcakes and a video chat from the grandparents. He had fun despite being quarantined. He’s going to have a blast once we are back on our feet and can give him a proper party.
Sufyan and his sister are like night and day. Polar opposites in many ways. One really obvious way is their approach to being allowed to destroy something. Wrapping paper, piles of blocks, playdoh, or cupcakes for example.
Sufyan is happy to enjoy his cupcake with a calm appreciation for it’s chocolate flavor and gooey icing. Here he pauses for a picture at the end of his cupcake indulgence, having survived the affair with but a smidgen of icing on his chin and cheek.
Laila, on the other hand….nom nom nom!
Sufyan takes his fork and carefully selects the perfect bite with a balance of chocolate and marshmallow and a little graham cracker.
He uses the graham cracker to taste a little of the chocolate frosting, to see if he likes it. “Hmmmm. This will be just fine.” he says.
Laila, on the other hand,….nom nom nom!
That’s it for tonight as I try to gather my thoughts. I am learning quickly that trotting out the word “Palestine” in front of my fellow Americans brings a range of reactions, not all of which are flattering or easy to deal with. When I drop the “P” bomb, I have to be ready for anything from a nervous giggle to outright hostility. I have yet to encounter the reaction of eager to know more. It makes me sad, and kind of tired. I am honing my story, polishing the edges about where I have been for the last year. I can now summarize Palestine solely by talking about the breathtaking views…or I can include the checkpoints and apartheid and oppression and the strength of the people that I met. It depends on what I am ready to deal with as a reaction.