The Light From Beyond the Grave

I’ve never been a particularly depressive person. Well, for the most part at least. However, sometimes drama somehow catches up with you, be it your own life drama, the drama you make up in your head and the evening news drama. So, there were times where you’d find myself balancing at the edge of that abyss, trying hard not to fall or, sometimes not even trying hard enough.

For me, it was a couple of months ago that I was swayed that way. You know how life feels uncertain at times, and fears starts creeping into your bed at night like the stealthiest of snakes. And you realize how fast it’s all happening, that you’re now old enough to remember things from 10 years that weren’t childhood memories, and that’s when it gets challenging, when you realize that you’re a grown-up and you must own up to it.

In the midst of all that, I woke up one day to find that I was added to a closed Facebook group that brought together girls from my middle school where I spent two years, the 7th and the 8th grades. For some reason, those are the school years I’m most nostalgic for, but all that nostalgia and the cascade of memories didn’t help, especially with the numbers of girls said to have passed away young during the intervening years.

However, one story in particular drew my attention. One of the girls posted something in answer to those who were asking her about her sister, telling them that she passed away 3 and a half years ago. A friend of hers posted a few pictures of her, and the first thing I felt was this deep compassion with that girl I never knew, not only because she was young and pretty, there was something about her, a beauty that shone out of her eyes,  which didn’t seem to wane even when her illness started manifesting itself on her. You look at the picture and you can see that she is smiling from her heart, not because she has to, not because she was in any sort of denial, it was the smile of someone who’s at peace with herself, who knows it’s going to be fine one way or another.

Intrigued by that notion, I did some further looking up on Facebook, where I came upon a page dedicated for her memory, and that’s when I was totally blown away. I mean, surely death creates an aura of reverence around the dead, and hearing about someone passing away always has a humbling impact on you, even if you didn’t like that person, but you always manage to find something good to say about them in the heat of the moment. But to find all this love, all these heartfelt words by all these people years after the fact, this must tell you something about that dearly departed.

Seeing that, it was obvious to me that wasn’t an ordinary person, she must have done something right, something special, and I felt a compelling need to find out what it was, or how she was. The bittersweet surprise was when I googled her name and an abundance of links turned up. She was a fellow blogger, and after some further digging I found that she started blogging after she was diagnosed with cancer. Going through her posts, I saw no self-pity, no anger, only faith, love, joy, compassion, and all the good things that come with that. There was only light, and more light.

She was mourned by fellow bloggers who never met her but who were influenced by her beautiful soul just as I was years after her death. Looking at her eyes, so full of life, you can see that she was someone with so much to give that she didn’t just give to those she knew, but also those she didn’t. Not only during her life, but also after her death.

Her name was Ola Muath, she was born in 1983 and left this world in 2012. We never met, but she taught me that life is indeed uncertain, that’s a built-in feature of life, but it doesn’t mean you should live your life with uncertainty. She taught me that this is where you are now so try to make the best of it until your last breath, because it doesn’t matter when you leave this earth as long as you make sure to have made your mark in it, to have made it slightly a better place. She taught me not to be afraid, to embrace whatever comes your way, deal with it with grace and trust that God has a plan for you, a plan bigger than whatever you dream up. She taught me that death is not the end, and I’m sure she’s there somewhere now reaping the fruits of all the good seeds she sowed during her short but precious life.

I wish I’ve known Ola before she left, but I’m grateful to have known her at all, and I hope that one day I’ll meet her in a better place to say “thank you” from the bottom of my heart, face to face.

 

ola

H

You know when your life begins to suck?

There’s an old story, which dates back to the beginning of creation, and that will be told to generations ages and ages hence. It talks about something we all love, we all cling to, something that it born with us, that dwells within us and even haunts us. Through out history, many attempts to abolish it went in vain. No matter how people tried to tear it out, it always crawled its way back. That’s right, it has become an inseparable part of every human being, and for many centuries, H has always been for Hope.

You don’t kill hope, not because you don’t want to, but simply because you can’t. You are too powerless to strangle it. All you can do is losing faith in yourself, in the people around you, or in the Creator. That when your life seems like a living hell, and death becomes a distant dream… but somewhere deep inside, there will always be something, crying out vividly wanting to get out of that dark hole you dug with desperation to convince yourself there was no way out.

There’s no escaping hope. A bittersweet fact you need to learn to live with. It pushes too hard, against your better judgment and against all your fears. It what pushes you not to settle for things, but rather to look forward to the best you can get. It’s what tells you you are someone, it’s your sense of self-worth, your passion and momentum, your way out.   Your only way out.

Originally Posted on Saturday, July 21, 2007  on http://oeliwat.jeeran.com/archive/2007/7/272901.html on

He…

Is not what you might think of him. He tries to sound crude, tries to make you think he wouldn’t care less, but under that careless, callous and somehow shrewd look, he possesses a certain sweetness of heart. You don’t have to look deep to know it, it just shows: he’s lousy at pretending.

At times you think he’s so special, and at times you think that he’s just like others, just another person, but there’s always that thing, something that makes him different. Either way, he’s unpredictable; it’s very hard to tell what’s going on in his mind. He can leave you puzzled for months by a strange look, though you know it might have been nothing, he was just drifted into his own thoughts, staring at nothing…

He’d like to be your friend, he just doesn’t know how. He’s either too shy or too proud. He can’t be formal or artificial, so don’t expect many compliments. He’s just too simple and spontaneous for that. Yet, he manages to conceal it behind his cunning look that would intimidate you, even though you know very well he’s the exact opposite.

He’s the kind of person you want around. The kind of person you want in your life. You know you can live without him, yet you can’t imagine life without him, but you know you have to. He makes you wonder about him, you, life and everything. He makes you dig deep to undiscovered depths inside yourself. Makes you wonder why you think too high of him, why you trust him blindly for no good reason, and whether he really deserves it or maybe you have to shift your angle…

You feel that everyone around him is lucky to know him. His parents are proud of him, his sister thinks he’s her favorite brother, his brother considers him his best friend, his friends like hanging out with him, his cousins love him because he’s fun, kind and down-to-earth.

He laughs even when he’s hurt. Never shows his real emotions unless they are that of fury. He might hurt you, frustrate you, disappoint you and even make you want to cry, but you know it’s not his fault; it doesn’t change anything; because he’s good, and he knows it.

Originally posted on Friday, June 01, 2007 on http://oeliwat.jeeran.com/archive/2007/6/236866.html

Scare him away…

(1)
She: I don’t know why, when he’s around , I do all sort of stupid things
Me: Or, maybe, you always do those stupid things. It’s just that, when he’s around, you notice it!
She: Quite possible
me: And quite common!
Everyone can be mad in love, only true lovers can be silly!
But of course that doesn’t mean that all true lovers are or should be silly
(2)
Toot toot
1 message received
She: Well, well, well! Now what is that supposed to mean! No! I won’t accept this, enough is enough! what in the world does he mean by that!
Me: What could he mean by “I don’t want you to be upset”!
She: Upset of what?
Me: I don’t know! He’s apparently trying to be nice!
She: No, no… I won’t tolerate this…
Me: Lsn here! I know how you feel and I know how you might regret it if you proceed like this… ignore your rage and send him something good!
She: Okay…
Message sent
Message received
She: Heeey! Now that is sweet!
Me: see, I told you…
Being aggressive means you are misinterpreting your feelings. It might sound better in your head, but it won’t get you anywhere!
Originally posted on Saturday, February 25, 2006 on http://oeliwat.jeeran.com/archive/2006/2/25658.html

The Thing

 

“Long time no see!” I exclaimed when I saw Sara and gave her a big hug. How are things going with your fiancé?”

“You mean my X-fiancé. We’ve broken up.” She said, trying to fake a shy smile.

“Why, what happened?”

“He had a fight with my father. He tried to apologize but my dad wouldn’t accept it. Later on the roles were reversed, and he got back at my father by dumping me”

I wasn’t in a position to make a judgment, but I certainly felt terribly sorry for the poor girl. Being abandoned by someone you love is the worst heart-breaking feeling a girl could experience.

“What if they have reconciled?” I thought to myself. “The whole problem might have been forgotten in a matter of weeks.”

I wonder how much time she needs to overcome her abandonment.

That is how I see it: The father refused to compromise at the beginning, the son-in-law refused to compromise afterwards, and the girl had to pay for it.

“Why did the girl’s feelings have to be in the second place?”

Well, something had to be sacrificed at the end, and it couldn’t be the superior macho pride!

Typical male society.

“Or maybe he didn’t love her enough” I wondered in a second thought.

But, how much is enough?

A relative term, I thought.

“Maybe I should stop here” I thought to myself. “I’m sort of a hardliner when it comes to this subject ”

Is it me who is asking for too much, or I am really not getting enough?

Someone who can’t even say Love and uses a term like this subject instead, must be having a problem.

Nonetheless, I have to admit that there were times when I felt an excessive need for love, not in its direct narrow meaning, but for love as a vast concept. In other words, I needed people.

One of those weary nights where I felt as if a huge stone was resting upon my heart, I rambled between pressing random thoughts that dashed through my brain like an angry stampede.

“The amount of love you give determines the amount of love you get from others.” That one seemed fairly logical.

“But” I thought, “Giving someone all the love you could is no guarantee that you’ll get anything in return.” That one woke up a not-so-nice memory.

Which nullifies which? Neither.

As I wrote this, the idea seemed more complicated than I thought, and it diverged into several theories and possibilities.

“Love is such a dilemma.”

That was my final conclusion ******

I can’t help, as I write this, but to think of my grandfather in his army suit, passing by the house where my grandmother lived. They didn’t say a word, nor needed to. It began there, and lasted for 50 years.

I still remember him sitting beside her on the sofa, singing for her “ya wardet el hob el safi”, which would make her blush and try to stop him. But he didn’t refrain from showing his affection, he would just giggle and continue the song: “Teslam edain elli sa’aki”.

She also loved him, even if she didn’t show it his way. But her words would sometimes betray her, and a smooth flow of love would slip through her tongue.

“No one takes care of you as much as I do.” She mumbled one day as she handed him a plate of sweets. She always knew that he was fond of sweet. A man of a sweet tongue, and a sweet tooth.

But her love for him would become more and more radiant in his last days, too radiant to be hidden. Everyone could see it in her tears, her staying up by his side at night, and spending hours on end on a plastic chair by his bed when he was at hospital.

Despite his sickness, he didn’t take satisfaction only in receiving love, but also in giving more and more to everyone around him.

He appreciated physical gestures of affection. He liked to be kissed and hugged by his sons, daughters and grandchildren. A nice incident I still remember from his last days was when my aunt, his eldest daughter, was sitting beside him on the bed and he was trying to tell her something. She couldn’t understand what he was saying since his breathing and talking were tightened by the disease that crawled up to his lungs. She stretched and put her ear near his mouth so that she could hear him. But he didn’t say anything; he just reached out and kissed her on the cheek. Easy to give, easy to get… That’s how love seemed in his presence.  


 

** Sara’s story is fictional, but based on a true story.

 Originally posted on  Thursday, February 09, 2006 on http://oeliwat.jeeran.com/archive/2006/2/20443.html