In the living room of my home in Montreal, in the dining room cabinet, on a shelf behind the glass is a picture of our family. It is an old photo taken in Dubai when my kids were still very young. It was taken on the same day we were photographed individually for our Canadian visa application. There’s an aura of happiness on all our faces.
Now we have lived in Dubai for almost a quarter of a century. We went there in the mid 1980s, escaping the Lebanese civil war. First it was only for one year. But then when the war continued we never went back. Living in Dubai was so much fun. But it always felt like we were on a long holiday. It felt like we were in the transit lounge of an airport, always waiting for our next plane out of there. So eventually when the time came for us to leave we decided to leave the Middle East and settle somewhere away from trouble. Somewhere we and my kids could finally call home.
In my previous post I mentioned the hardship that my grandparents (and later my parents) went through when they lost everything and left their homes and started a new life as refugees in Lebanon, where they didn’t even speak the language. They arrived in this new land with nothing but the clothes they wore. And out of this nothing they were able to stand on their feet and build a new home, raise a good family.
Thomas H. Cook writes:
“The course of every life followed a strange and unknowable direction. We might work to probe the mystery, but it would always elude us. For we were lost, like sheep in a deep valley, wandering in the darkness, without guidance or direction, driven here and there by mere circumstance, undone by pure chance. The darkness was impenetrable, and so we groped and stumbled, fell into traps and snares. We had been brought here to suffer, to be broken into submission, wounded again and again, so that we might find within those wounds the force and grace of love.”
Life was not so simple and sweet for either of my parents. They had it real hard. They had both started working early on in life, perhaps when they were twelve or thirteen. And since then they have never stopped. From them I learned the greatest lessons of life. I learned to look around at the less fortunate and count my blessings. I learned to work hard, as I learned that in order to succeed I had to have patience and perseverance. And due to the sacrifices they made we (my two brothers and I) were able to have a happy childhood even when theirs was taken away from them.
Despite all my parents had been through, they still believed the world to be made of good and coming from such a family I grew up with no fear of life. And then it was our (my husband and I) turn to make that sacrifice. And oh what a sacrifice it turned out to be. At last when we had a place to call home my husband was taken from us. There have been times lately when I have been submerged deep in sorrow and a fear of life and the future has taken hold of me. A life without my significant other beside me. And on such days, on days that I feel let down, I long to hear their voices, the voices of the people dearest to me but long gone.
“Why is it always the ones who love life, Cal? Your mother. Now William. Why is it always the ones who love life that are taken? The ones who want so much from it, give so much to it?”
“They aren’t taken any more than others. Dad it just seems that way.”
He nodded slowly. “Seems that way, yes. Because they’re the ones we miss.” Thomas H. Cook