Please welcome writer Eren Cervantes-Altamirano whose column Flirting with Fate and other Disasters of an Intersectional Muslimah will appear the first Thursday of every month. Her piece below, written in July 2014, sets the stage for her new column here at LoveinshAllah.com
Perhaps it is absurd of me to think that Ramadan will ever be a time of peace and refection. From the moment I converted, my patience, my love for Islam and my faith have been constantly tested. Beyond the struggle of belonging to a non-Muslim family, the reconciliation of new acquired identities and the challenges of trying to fit into mainstream Muslim communities, this year I started Ramadan off surrounded by death.
As the month of Ramadan approached and I prepared to fast, I lost my life partner in a sudden accident. He was planning to travel from Saudi Arabia to Canada to visit me after Ramadan. The news came as a shock to all who knew him. He was young, full of life and had many dreams.
Such an unexpected event brings the sudden awareness of the fragility of earthly life, and it also show us the best and worst of the Muslim communities that surround us. Saad’s death is something I had to think and rethink in order to rationalize completely. I can’t say that the process is over yet. But his death has also made me question my own place among Muslims as a convert, as an Indigenous woman from Mexico, and as a “sinner.”
We had been married just over 24 hours and had just finished dhuhr prayer when a friend of the family, my mother-in-law’s dearest friend, kneeled in front of us and grasped our hands in hers, with a look of tenderness and concern.
“Now I need to tell y’all something. This right here, right now? You think this is the love but I have to tell you, this isn’t the love.”
We looked at each other, eyebrows raised, knowing smiles on our lips, the wisdom of those in their early twenties (which is to say none), and indulged her speech.
“This isn’t the love,” she said again. “The love comes later.”
That was all she said, but I took it in and stored it away in the back pocket of my mind, something to pull out from time to time and smile about.
Of course I disagreed with her. We were in love. The shy smiles, the touch here, the kiss there; I had found my happily ever after.
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Video credit and gratitude to Women of Spirit & Faith, Peabody Award-winning filmmaker Alison Fast and documentary filmmaker Chandler Griffin!
I’ve had many humbling experiences in my life, including voluntarily going homeless for one week every year as part of an awareness-raising project. But my most humbling experience so far has been being unemployed.
Since I left my job in October, I went from being the man-of-the-house to the man-in-the-house. My new househusband role begins at 6:45 am when I wake up to make and pack my wife’s lunch. By 7:15 am, I’ve also ironed her clothes. At 7:30 am, I’m warming up the car to drop her off at the train station fifteen minutes later
After that, phase two begins. I make sure the house is clean, the laundry is done and dinner is made while also searching and applying for jobs. It sounds easy enough, right? Let me tell you, it’s one of the most difficult jobs I’ve ever done and I’m still trying to get it 100% right. I have a new respect for women and men who take on the role of homemaker. And, I can only imagine the work it takes to be a stay-at-home parent.
Unlike the movies, making a life with another person is rarely a happily ever after.
There are stormy seasons and safe comforting shores by turn. In our life together, there have been times that my husband Yusuf and I could have given up because those comforting shores were nowhere to be seen.
But, this week marks three decades together as wife and husband.
In making it this far together, I’ve discovered four hard-learned truths in the creative process that is marriage:
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Check out more photos in Buzzfeed’s collection entitled, The 50 Most Romantic Photos of All Time.
Thea & Ron
A new NYT weekly feature profiles marriages, civil unions and partnerships that have lasted over 25 years.In the first of the series, one couple reminisces on the glue that holds it all together.
Know a couple who should be profiled? Send them your submission, here!
What he learned from her:
Ron: She made me stronger no doubt about it. She made me realize I had potential to do above and beyond. I never would have stepped out of my comfort zone. I would have done something mundane, I’d still be in that mailroom if not for Thea.
What she learned from him:
Thea: Life frightens me, not him. He’s the one open to change. I’d be stuck in the same place if not for him, pushing me, cajoling, loving me, cheering me. He’s willing to showcase me, while staying in the background.