Close your eyes and remember when you were three. Maybe you had a younger brother, just a year younger, that was your best friend. Maybe you were a little bit of a tomboy, climbing trees, playing ball, loved being outdoors. Living at home with your mother and your papa. Life was pretty easy. In fact so easy and normal that the only things that stick out in your memory are the handful of times you got in trouble for something you did wrong. Something say you got a spanking for.
Remember that, getting in trouble at three? I do. So does my new friend. Unfortunately those are the only memories she has of her mother: getting in trouble by her. Not because her mother was mean but because her life was good and easy and the memories of her mother are only about when she did something wrong because that was out of the ordinary calmness and goodness of her little life.
That changed for her at age three. That was when war broke out in Lebanon, her country. Her mother was concerned about her parents who lived close to where the fighting occurred. The fighting disrupted the regular means of communication and so her mother set off one day to check on her own parents to make sure they were OK. Maybe to bring them back to her home further away from where the trouble was.
My friend’s mama never made it to her parent’s home. And she never made it back to her own children. She was a beautiful woman, travelling alone through a country torn apart by war. My friend showed me a picture she keeps in her wallet of her, her brother and her mother. In the picture she looks about three and her brother two. It’s hard to tell her apart from her brother. They are both cute as bugs and her mama is beautiful. Twenty six years later, my friend looks so much like her mother. My friend now says that when she was three her mother died. She says that because they don’t know anything else. And the anything else to imagine about what could happen to a beautiful woman travelling alone through war that prevents her from getting to her parents or returning to her beloved children is just too awful to imagine.
My friend is now a mother herself to a charming, bright little fellow almost the same age as when her own mother went missing. She had to raise herself and her brother without a mother but somehow she knows how to do it. She is a tough and brave young lady. Beautiful inside and out. Her mother would be so proud of her.
When I close my eyes I can barely remember my mother when I was three. I can remember her more at five. Memories get pretty good at eight and then on until thirty three. That’s when she went missing from my world. But at least I got thirty more years of mothering and memories and got to know how and when she left.
Since moving to the UAE I have had several moments where I am awed by the reality of the time and the place that I was put on this earth. How different my life would be if I had been born a hundred years earlier. Or let’s say destined to be bride to a nomadic sultanate in the Arabian dessert. (This I think would have been a very big challenge for me because the wives of the nomads wear these awful metal contraptions over their faces. Looks like a combination Groucho Marx mustache and chastity belt. Of all the varying degrees of women head coverings here I find this one really stabs me in a deep place) Or born twenty-two years ago in Lebanon and ending up having to raise myself.
For the record, I am still also having at least a few times a day where I stop in my mental/emotional footsteps with thise overwhelming questions “What the heck did I do to my life by making this move? What was I thinking? “Time will tell and hopefully those moments will be fewer and farther between. And then I meet someone like my new friend and learn her story and realize that we’re all just here temporarily, here but not alone. Here in the palm of His hand, given to each other to learn and grow and overcome.
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