I am not sure why I have not written in a long time. I try to dissect my feelings. To open up the bloody mess and follow the veins of my thoughts and explore the chambers of my heart. I get lost every time. I must accept that I will never find my way through the clutter.
Of course, I miss Ibrahim. I have learned that I will always miss him. I miss him in different ways everyday. Most days, I miss his smell or even the smell of the sterile hospital. His now-yellowed white hospital hat, which I store in two Ziploc bags and smell daily, no longer has his scent. So instead, when I visit people at the hospital, I pump the possibly carcinogenic hand sanitizing lotion twice, close my eyes, and breathe it in deeply. I am immediately taken back to his bedside- his pink abdomen moving rapidly and his lips cracked around the breathing tube. I don’t feel grief ,rather, joy for the short moment with him. I open my eyes to see my husband, the only other being on earth who knows why I do this, looking at me. I avoid eye contact and rub my hands together as if nothing happened.
Yes, it’s complicated.
Our parents named us after Islamic figures in hopes that we would grow up to be just like them. They wished that somehow having an identical name would breed an identical character. But parenting does not work that way. You can’t just name a person Fatima or Maryum or Omar or Ali and expect them all to run their course in a devout and compliant direction.
It’s not that simple. “Children aren’t coloring books. You don’t get to fill them with your favorite colors.” Khaled Hosseini wrote that in The Kite Runner. Picking a name for some parents tends to be their favorite “go to” crayon. But children aren’t two dimensional cartoon characters.
So when they grow up throughout the years and make decisions in beautiful dichotomy of their respective parents’ compulsive expectations it should never come as a surprise. Because here is the other thing, children cannot be computer programmed either. You don’t get to input a name and output a saint. Children aren’t robots. And while robots and other objects can be possessed, a child will never be his or her parents’ property.
As much as it annoyed my family and my then-estranged husband, I refused to find out my child’s sex before birth. I figured that the world could wait to press its confining gender roles upon my child. I wanted to be surprised by God.
I dreamt of a little girl learning to play catch and a boy learning to cook. I dreamt of children of both sexes learning, growing, and making spectacular messes. I was determined to rejoice in whoever entered my life. What no one told me is just how much determination I would need, and how much I’d already taken for granted.
I was around three when my mother met him.
He said I took one look at him and hid behind her dress. I peered around as he reached down to pick me up, frantically screamed and did a wiggle move out of his arms.
That was the start of our relationship.
My father (technically step-father), Halil, grew up in rural Turkey. He worked hard and was eventually offered a full paid scholarship to the University of Basel in Switzerland. That is where my mother and I would eventually settle after they met through a marriage ad in Islamic Horizons. My parents were forward thinking even in the 80’s!
After my second divorce, I took a break from relationships to decide what I wanted in a future partner.
With two young kids, there was no time for dating. My kids needed me, and I needed myself. So, I composed a list containing everything I wanted in a man. My list had 45 bullet points, (including ‘doesn’t text while we’re together’, to ‘not homophobic’, to ‘likes sex’) that I required as I healed post-divorce
The man who embodied my list manifested in my life three years later – though that was still before I expected him.