Victress

To the woman that I am privileged to call my grandmother and my role model.

***

I wish that you could have met her, just once. I wish that you could have sat next to her, and sipped a cup of tea with her in her front room, whilst watching the strange outside world fly by.

But most of all, I wish that you could have heard her laugh.

When she laughed, the world stood still.

Yes, there was a certain something about her contagious giggle, something so distinctive and seemingly effortless, something joyful and and yet so simple.

Fearlessness. 

As a young girl I watched her, I saw her and I followed her.

Time and time again I sat with her, and played with her hair, twisting her white soft curls around my seven year old fingers.

Day after day, I wrote my stories and read them too her, one by one.

“Brilliant!” “Superb!” “Splendid!” 

She was always positive and always caring – I was lucky to know her.

The Victress. 

However,  what I – the hairdresser and the aspiring writer – failed to realize, was that behind every Victress, there lies a victory, and behind every victory there lies a battle.

 

Nobody can deny the presence of pain in a world so corrupt and broken as ours.

Nobody can comment on the ease of forgiveness, or at how simple is is too look into the eyes of someone who has hurt you  and wronged you, and yet still find the courage to speak the three most powerful, freeing, confusing words that this world has to offer:

“I forgive you.” 

I cannot write her story, because I truly know so little about her struggle – I did not witness her challenges, her trials or her pain.

Yet, what I saw and what I witnessed, was something of far more worth and value, something truly deserving of admiration.

What I saw was the outcome. 

Her outcome. 

Somehow, when I consider her life, when I look at her journey, the battle does not seem so overwhelming.

How so? 

Each time I look at her, each time I remember her, I see her countenance, filled with love and overflowing with joy .

Every time I think of her, I try to look for her scars, after all – we all have our own scars. Those bitter wounds of a world determined to break us and crush us, the marks of a world so intent on denying every flicker of hope from our eyes.

Yet, each time I look, every single time, I cannot find anything.

The trophy of her battle is the strength of her character.

The mischievous grin of a cheeky grandmother simply up to no good, the enthusiastic drive of a woman so motivated by adventure and the overwhelming joy of a lady empowered by a love far beyond her.

Yes, I miss her. 

I miss seeing the curve in her smile and the look in her eye when her favorite song played on the radio.

I miss the way we danced together, and the way she used to twirl me, around and around and around. 

Today I smile, because the seeds that she planted as an act of obedience and the steps of bravery that she took when all seemed hopeless, have a meaning and a purpose, even now.

I smile, because although I no longer hear her, walk with her, and talk with her – I can be like her.

And I smile, because what she started years ago, what she chose to surrender and how she chose to live, began the process of what I can only think to call –  a legacy.

Her Legacy.

So as we return to our lives riddled with concerns, decisions and questions, let’s ponder on a thought unique to our own lives, our own stories, What will be our legacy? 

She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future. Proverbs 31: 25

 

 

اللغة العربية والقدس

قبل ٤ سنوات قررت أن أدرس اللغات في الجامعة وفي رأيي هدأ القرار كان واحد من أهم القرارات في حياتي.

في العام ٢٠١٢ سافرت إلى القدس من أجل أن أكون متطوعة في منظمة كبيرة في البلدية القديمة القدس.

عندما وصلت إلى القدس ما عرفت كلمة في اللغة العربية. كل يوم عندما عملت في المنطمة سمعت كل الموظفيين تحدثوا معاً في اللغة العربية واردت ان افهم كل ما قالوا. قلت لاصدقائي انني أردت ان أدرس العربية وهم قالولي سيساعدوني. هدا كان الطريق التي بدأت أن أدرس اللغة العربية.

بعد أَن انتهيت من العمل التطوعي في القدس خططت ان أَدرس اللغة الانجليزية في جامعة بانغور في شمال ويلز ولكن عندما بدأَت دراسة اللغة العربية وقعت في الحب مع هذه اللغة وثقافتها.

مديري في القدس سألني اذا كان يمكنني ان ابقى في القدس من اجل ان اكون سكرتيرته. هو قال اذا بقيت في القدس المنظمة سيدفعون لي لدراسة اللغة العربية في كلية هند الحسيني في الشيخ جراح في شرق القدس. قررت ان ابقى في القدس لسنة اخرى.

من ثم ادركت انني لا ارغب للدراسة اللغة الانجليزية في الجامعة. بدات لبحث عن درجات في اللغات من الشرق الاوسط.

وجدت دورة في اللغات من الشرث الاوسط في جامعة مانشستر وقررت ان ادرس اللغة العربية واللغة العبرية مع بعض.

الآن انا اعتقد أَنَّ كل شيء يحدث لسبب.

سارة

Father’s Joy 

Sometimes life is beautiful, and sometimes it brings more burdens than we feel we can bear. Often these burdens come hand in hand with choices, decisions that we must make on behalf of someone else.

This story is for every parent who has faced the unthinkable decisions that nobody is ready to make. This story is for every child, youth or adult who has ever felt the bitter pain of worthlessness. And this story is a celebration of my beloved parents, who have dedicated their lives and sacrificed so much, to provide myself and my sister with everything that we have ever needed. 

Written with an  adoration and an admiration for my father God in heaven, who’s love is unconditional and perfect. A God filled with compassion, grace and love for every person, in every situation. 

Dedicated to: Aboudi and Salah, Patrick and Theresa and Omar and Rebecca.

****

“The truth is, your daughter will never be normal, she will never live an easy life. The strain that she will bring will be an incredible amount of pressure on your family.”

The words echoed through the empty room as the doctor slowly began to list of the various illnesses.

One by one.

They had announced the news February last year, the couple were to become parents to a little girl –  a beautiful blessing, a little sister, a cousin, a niece.

A little girl, who would become a member of their family; treasured, precious and loved.

Like a knife, sharp and intrusive, the words of the doctor cut through the dreary thoughtful silence that had filled the room.

“We could terminate the baby, in the long term this may be more beneficial – if the girl lives we expect that she will not live longer than one year.” 

Silence.

The Father-to-be stood with his hand on his wife’s shoulder as he stared towards the floor.

A pearly tear trickled down the side of his face.

From the outside he was calm and collected, composed and strong, but from inside he was screaming.

ANGER, blood red and bitter

Suddenly he had questions, unanswered questions.

 

Why?

Life had been hard for him, as a child he had never known the comfort and compassion of a family.

He remembered the feeling of rejection as his own father stared him in the eye and he remembered the pain of his father’s cruel, hate filled words:

“You are nothing to me, nothing but a stupid idiot! You were my biggest mistake.” 

 

He felt a tremble beneath him, and as he looked down he saw his wife, his companion, his best friend, crying.

Her makeup once unnoticeable now lay smeared around her eyes.

He held her in his arms, he had never felt so helpless.

He remembered the moment he had taken her into his arms and asked her to be his wife, his one and only, his lady.

He remembered their wedding day, she was so beautiful – an angel dressed in white with a flawless smile and the most contagious laugh. 

He remembered asking her to be the mother of his children. 

**

As the day drew into evening the doctor’s words played continuously though his head.

“Terminate” “Child” “One Year” 

All his life he had believed in reasons. Everything in life had a reason. Everything in life had a purpose.

But this time, he had no answers.

As he washed the dishes pondering the days ahead, considering the decisions and the consequences, the radio rattled in the background.

Within minutes a stream of sentences, a chorus, echoed throughout the empty kitchen.

“Everlasting Father, enduring love forever, your kindness makes me stronger

“I am loved, I am loved, by my Father, I’m forever Yours”

Such simple words, such powerful words.

He had lived over twenty years of his life believing the lies and the words uttered over him at such a young age.

He had believed he was worthless. 

Then came the time when he met with the love of a father, unexpectedly.

He had promised from that moment onwards to live his life empowered by that same love.

He had made a promise to himself that if he ever had a family, if he ever had children, they would never go a day without feeling loved, protected, honored and treasured.

They would know what it was to have a father.

Four weeks later, hand in hand, the couple walked into the doctors room.

And with a smile on his face the man looked at the doctor.

And as the doctor began to discuss the process of termination, the man interrupted, in a strong, emotion filled voice:

“We will keep the child, whether she lives for one day, or fifty years. She will know a father’s love and a mother’s smile. She will feel love every second of her life. She will be treasured, honored and cherished.”

The doctor stared at the couple, in awe and shock.

“And we have a name for our daughter – Joy – She is her father’s joy!”

He paused, and slowly as his eyes filled with tears and a smile formed on his face.

“She is her father’s joy… she is MY JOY!”

 

SONG: EVERLASTING FATHER 

Her name is Bravery

Dear Brave Girl,

I am sorry that we are so quick to misunderstand you. I am sorry that we only seem to see your scars and fail to acknowledge your never ending battle, your daily struggle and your fighting heart.

I’m sorry for the way that you have been treated, and for the way your trust has been broken time and time again. 

This story is for you – it’s a tribute to you. We respect you and honor you. Don’t give up, no mistake you have made can define you! 

Many people know her and many would recognize her in the street.

“Don’t talk to her!” 

Of course everyone knows about her and her stories.

“How could someone be so naive? She is foolish to have done something like that!” 

Let me tell you her story.

Her life had been one of despair, rejection, pain and fear. Mistreated and abused by those who should have protected her, she lived a life doubting her worth and her very existence. Everything seemed so hopeless to her, her life was one of shame.

A few years ago, this same girl made a decision – she chose to love.

It was not just the normal type of love,  but it was the fearless, vulnerable love.

A few years ago, she chose to push her fears to the side, she chose to silence the lies, and forget the past that so cruelly and viciously haunted her for over twenty years. She chose to believe in love, and that she in turn could be loved.

And those thirteen months of love were truly beautiful.

Love  transformed her once bleak, hopeless life into a vibrant, colorful paradise. No two days were the same, every day was a unique adventure.

Days swirled into months and life had never been so glorious.

Hand in hand, her love led her to a view overlooking the city and as she rested her head on his shoulder he uttered the magical words every girl longs to hear:

“What we have, it will be forever – we will be forever!”

Finally, after twenty traumatic years she would be safe.

As evening drew near he asked to claim a part of her, he asked for the part of her so intimate, a part of her that she had promised to never give to anyone.

And as night fell her tore down her walls of fear, he slept with her.

It was culturally forbidden. 

As the days passed things began to change.

Slowly.

Contact between the two lovers began to fade and after one month, he had left.

The vibrant life she had once known disappeared. Gradually a familiar bleakness returned, a sinister dark bleakness.

He had left with no explanation, no reason.

Perhaps it was boredom?

A year passed and her motivation  was lost.

No single night went by without tears, self examination, questions and anger.

Bleakness.

And a week later the unthinkable happened – she saw him, in the street.

He was smiling, he was happy, he was arm in arm with a young woman.

She was tall and elegant and graceful.

Someone shouted to the couple in the street:

“مبروك الخطبتكم”   “Congratulations on your Engagement” 

They were engaged. 

Suddenly something was torn away from her. A pain so sharp and vile ripped every ounce of hope away from her.

She had lost everything, culturally she would never marry. She had lost her chance.

She turned, and ran.

She ran through the streets, she ran past the shops,  she ran.

Her heart was truly broken and the pain was horrific.

And today she continues with her life, as a prisoner to her new identity -a prisoner to how people perceive her.

She continues with her life, fighting the battle every day to believe that she has worth.

She continues with her life, despite the attitudes of the onlookers.

She continues, and she will continue.

Dear Brave Girl, Thank you for being true and fearless. I pray that one day you will come to a place of comfort and peace. On behalf of the cruel world we live in, I apologize.