MARWA: To Palestine with love 28Jun12 June 28, 2012


Marwasami blog   -   28 June 2012

Sometimes I think we’re too sure of where we are going. We’ve become too confident of who we are and what we want to do. We make plans, buy tickets, pack suitcases and feel really assured of our destination. Sometimes we will never make it to that destination, and I don’t think many of us keep that in mind.

Last year, in the midst of my father’s battle with cancer, he made the decision to go to Palestine. My dad wanted to be home. The last time he had visited his birth country was a few years earlier to bury his mother. I had visited the Middle East twice, first to Ummrah then again to Qatar, but had never made the trip to Palestine myself.

I’ve always yearned to visit this place that I’ve loved for so long. I had never walked the streets of Jerusalem or our family village in Al-Tira, but I danced dabke at every wedding and waved my Palestinian flag at every solidarity rally. I read Palestine, thought Palestine and I wanted to be in Palestine. I am forever connected to a forbidden land that I want access to, even if only for a three month allotted visa.

My father had stomach cancer. The worst thing about stomach cancer is that you just can’t eat. As his body starved and attacked itself, my dad wanted to put his heart at ease. He told me that he’d just be happy to breath the air of Palestine and die where he was born. My dad was so confident; he said ‘death’ so causally. He would joke about me being single and asked me to get married before he died. He laughed and I would cry to myself. I loved his confidence.

Me, being the failed optimist, refused to think of death. I saw by dad, baba, the man who came to this country at 18, raised a family of six kids, loved the Cubs despite their winning record, sent five of his kids to college despite never graduating high school himself, the man who worked 12 hour shifts but still took us fishing ever Sunday, as invincible. I never denied death as a concept, but I just saw my dad as surviving this battle.

My parents were supposed to leave to Palestine on July 12, 2011 and I would be leaving on the 13. Our bags had been packed with clothes and gifts and waited in the garage for us to leave. A few days before our departure my dad had gotten really sick and was sent to the hospital. The doctors had sent him home for ‘hospice’ care, meaning there was nothing left that they could do. On July 15 my father passed away and we remained in Chicago.

Sometimes we are so sure of where we’re going but never realize that maybe it wasn’t our intended destination. My father was born in a small village in Palestine and passed away in the suburbs of Chicago. SubhanAllah where life takes you.

As I prepare for this years trip to Palestine, I honestly have not packed my bags. I anticipate to leave to the place I love on July 6, but who knows? I don’t think about ‘what ifs’ of that past, I just know what happened and I accept it. I won’t write this as a letter that exemplifies any sort of eulogy to my dad’s passing, that would be too generic and not suffice. Instead, I’m just sharing a small story.

Maybe next week I’ll sleep in the bedroom my dad grew up in. That would mean the world to me. I want to breath the air that my dad told stories about, and smell its greatness. So many people are in love with this place that is covered in blood and surrounded by walls and hatred. I want to see my father’s birthplace liberated. He never saw a free Palestine in his lifetime, but I will continue to love this place until it explodes with peace.

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