I'm not lying to you when I say that I'm the most patient person you'll ever meet. I don't really know why, but it's just a strange quirk about me people comment on. Maybe even a little too patient. However, this whole thing had me in a bit of an anxious mess. So I headed out to our local park, a place with hidden trails filled with Birch trees that is truly magical. This grove, with a quiet but just long enough dirt trail cut into it, embraces me and whispers truths to me that I can only reflect on and never repeat as perfectly as they present themselves to me. When we first moved here, I was so lonely I thought I was losing my mind. Then I found the Birch grove and I looked up as I walked through it one day, my toddler on my back, his hands reaching up towards the all-encompassing green and suddenly, I realized the only thing I heard was the sway of leaves. I begged for answers through my tears and all I heard back came in a whisper that held no words. But there were still answers.
When we arrived back home, my neighbor, a fifty year old woman who lives with her family in the basement apartment of the house next to us, began telling me about the cellulitis in her leg and why she doesn't vote. My son tried to steal the little metal flower out of the bark surrounding their tree. The entire time, I didn't think of my email to M once.
But when we got inside, I went ahead and opened my email just to see. Maybe to reread the one I sent him. You know how we all do that? Second guess ourselves or boost our confidence, hoping the words we choose really can make a difference. So we stand there rereading our own emails as if it will encourage the other person to reply faster. This is also a way of sending out our energy and true desires into the world, I believe.
I almost choked as I stood there looking at a Re: U.S research student questions in my inbox.
In that millisecond of time between my finger clicking "open" and reading the first line for negativity, I felt every rejection I've ever had in my entire life wash over me. My brain retrieved it, relived it, and then, strangely enough, rejected it; because in the end: the truth never hurts as much as a lie. I live by this.
I only read the first few lines, bracing myself.
My Dearest Daughter, Reem.
Needless to say I am in a state of shock. Not angry nor afraid, and I would never delete your email. I have searched for you but had no idea where to start. I knew that one day I would meet you.
I embrace you wholeheartedly, Reem.
Without even finishing reading the whole thing I collapse in a pile onto the floor because the tears are spilling over and I'm sobbing. I pound the hardwood. My shoulders shake. I sweat. I laugh. I am truly in a state of hysterics. My son comes running over to me and puts his hands onto my back, his eyes wide and his mouth open. The dog pants nervously next to me. They want to calm me down, but I can't. I just can't. I've never felt anything like that in my life, not that raw, that uncontrolled. Even when I found MW, I somewhat made the assumption (I know this is terrible) but... well, she's my mother. Oh, I still cried. But it was almost out of relief. It had also been somewhat clear from my adoption papers that she did not want to relinquish her parental rights. Complicated times in Family Social Service agencies.
But M....all that was listed were statements like "father's rights have been terminated based on legal abandonment" and "it is believed he has returned to Saudi Arabia." He didn't exactly sound like the wholeheartedly embracing type. Not back then.
He then asked me to write him back as soon as possible to tell him all about myself. He closed so eloquently by saying, It won't be easy on either of us or those around us, but something I've learned after watching it destroy others is that one masters life looking forward and not by beating one's chest about the past---a period one has very little control over.
A day or so later I am on the phone with Bashar, his old friend I met. They have spoken. He's laughing a little too hysterically himself. He tells me about how last week after I'd left their house, they talked about the Muslim prayers that bring back the dead to complete important unfinished work in life.
That night, he said, we wondered: is there a way to bring back the living, too?