This picture embodies a moment that has followed me up until today, two years after it was taken, and that, although I’m certain I will experience much worse, will follow me for the rest of my life.
We all have moments where the past comes back, whether it’s triggered by something we hear or see, or if it simply flashes through our minds unexpectedly. I remember this moment, and this day. I remember pressing my forehead against this gate, and grasping it with my hands. I watched my tears drop on the iron bars, and through my foggy eyes I stared at this taxi just meters away. I remember the terrible emptiness in my stomach, where I felt my freedom had been ripped out of me, leaving a gaping hole in my existence. I remember when I realized that these bars were stronger than my frustration. I remember when “so close, yet so far” became a sick, terrible sword piercing through my heart. I remember asking my father why God was doing this to us.
No matter how vividly you remember your nightmares, your horror before waking can never again be relived. My brokenness is only a memory now.
I do not know what drove me to take this picture. With my thoughts even more chaotic than my surroundings, I cannot imagine how I thought to snap what was before me. To be completely honest, I don’t now how I had the strength to pull my phone out of my pocket. I remember everything about this moment, except for that.
Although I believe this experience changed me for the rest of my life, nothing is more significant than what came to follow. As clung to the gate, with my last bits of strength pouring out of my eyes, I looked over at my cousin. “See what you are feeling now? In Gaza, this is what I feel every day.”
I looked down at the sand, and quickly realized the answer to my own question. Why did God allow this to happen to me? To show me a small fraction of the agony that Palestinians are forced to live through.
The following morning, I unknowingly walked out of my grandmother’s house for the last time. We made it across the Rafah border that afternoon.
"You’ve learned," He said. "Now go tell the world."