I grew up knowing that our separation was only temporary. It was not a hope, or a dream, or wish. It was a fact. As the two poles of a magnet always come back together, I knew that, one day, we would all do the same. We would all be back together. We would all be around the fire. We would all be in a circle singing, and clapping, and dancing. Not one of us would be estranged. Not one of us would be missing from the circle. Our arms would be intertwined around the fire and there would be not one break in the line.
I grew up knowing that, one day, all of my family would be back together again. But as I grow older, what was once a fact to me has slowly turned into a hope that is far from ever becoming a reality.
Yet I still can’t shake this image of the fire from my mind. I have imagined it so many times. I have seen my uncle playing the oud, the light from the fire shining on his face as he sings. I have seen my cousins resting their knees in the sand, swaying to the rhythm. I see everyone. I see all of my cousins around the fire with me. No one is in Europe, no one is in Canada, no one is in the United States, no one is in Saudi Arabia, or Dubai, or Jordan, or Bahrain. No, we are all in Gaza, where our grandfather (May God rest his soul) left us.
What we would all give to make this our reality, I can’t even tell you. What we would all give to never again have to choose between “having a future” and having a family. What we would all give to live in a world where our opportunities wouldn’t depend on our location or our nationality, or even our name. What we would all give to provide our children “better futures” on the same land where we built our history.
I have this image of us all around the fire, and I am slowly realizing that this image will likely remain forever as an imagination. Unfortunately, my heart cannot keep pace with my mind. For when this image comes to my mind, my first feeling is not hopefulness; it is fact, definiteness. “I can’t wait for this to happen,” my heart continues to say, as it has since I was a child. It has not evolved based on the hardships I’ve faced and the separation I’ve experienced and the information I’ve learned, as my mind has. My heart continues to tell me that this is more than an imagination, that this, one day, will be a fact. All of us will come together again.
Our blood is like a magnet that pulls us all together. And when these moments come, moments of pure mindfulness that I am here, and not there, a force within my blood arises with indescribable strength. And just like my heart, which remains steadfast and secure in the reality of this image, my blood ceaselessly pulls with incredible force toward our togetherness.
In the face of such power, the slow emergence of my rationale that follows this image is made even more painful. Within milliseconds, I begin to remember what I have learned and what I have experienced and what I have faced. Each of these memories infiltrates my soul, and one by one, causes the momentum of my certainty to subside. Within milliseconds, this image retreats back, as only a hope and a dream.
Why is it that “temporarily” has come to feel like “permanently”? Why is it that our identity was once a fact, but has come to feel like only a hope, and a dream?
Inspired by my aunt, Mona.