Lucero was learning about China at school the whole past week. She told me she wants to wear red, for the Chinese New Year. I immediately remembered that my brother had gotten her a Qipao from China, so I dressed her in it, and she was so excited! She couldn’t wait to go to school, to show her friends and especially her teacher, her ‘real’ chinese dress!
We got out of the door faster than anytime I remember.. She ran to her classroom, took her jacket off, and stood there with a huge grin on her face, waiting for her teacher’s reaction. Even I was waiting for her teacher’s reaction for her over excitement!
But then, her teacher had only this surprised look on her face. It was then that I realized, that the kids were supposed to wear red for China, the day before! That’s what her schedule said. The only thing is that, the day before is the day I pick Lucero up from the bed, sleeping, and take her to school, since I have to go to work so early. I remembered her schedule said something about the kids wearing red, but there is no way I could dress her a Qipao while trying not to wake her up, that, assuming that I had remembered, while half asleep myself!
It broke my heart.
Lucero stayed very happy, and did not notice what I noticed. She wore her Qipao for two days in a row. I told myself that is all that matters, and, they were, after all, learning about China the whole week. Plus, even though all her friends wore red the day before, Lucero, the next day, wore an actual Qipao.
It still broke my heart. I am sorry my dear.
I was woken up Thanksgiving night by Lucero shaking next to me, not talking, whimpering and groaning. I tried holding her she was still shaking and not responding.
I called an ambulance and 10 minutes later we were at the hospital, with Lucero’s 106 degrees fever.
We spent the night at the ER, and were discharged in the morning. Lucero has pneumonia, and I am keeping her at home, heavily medicated, for the next few days. She was having a seizure, and I am so thankful I woke up to realize that, and for the mere existence of 911.
I had never had to rush Lucero to the hospital before.
When the paramedics were leaving with her little self wrapped in blankets and cuddled in their big arms, I was running around trying to grab some warm clothes for her. I told them I will drive behind you, because we need the car to come back. They were surprised, “there is no one else here?” I said “No. Actually, I cannot drive, I am shaking.”
The nurses were asking me many questions, I had them repeat most of them, more than once. I was in shock. I had no idea what time it was, what time this started, what my last name was, or her date of birth.
When Lucero was finally responding and declared, “mama I was shaking! It is because my white blood cells are trying to kill the virus in my nose!”, I collapsed in tears. I then realized that my feet were freezing, because I wore my wet boots without any socks. I had also forgotten Lucero’s shoes. We left the hospital in the morning, in a cab, with two pairs of cold feet.
Lucero had been sick since Tuesday, but I had promised to go out sledding with her and her friends on Thanksgiving, after dinner. We did, it was a blast, and this was the result.
Speak of bad single mothering…
I convinced Lucero to wait for me while I throw the trash away. The trash container downstairs is huge, closed, and has a window on the side to toss the bags inside.
Well, I tossed my keys with the trash.
They settled on the bottom of the container, with all the disgusting bags.
Horrified, but composed, I stood there staring at the trash. I took my jacket and almost everything I was wearing off, climbed the window and leapt into the container, with all the trash, and my keys.
I tried to not think of what was happening and exit as fast as I entered. But no, there are moments in life when time seems to freeze and everything proceeds in slow motion.
I tried to climb out the same way I came in, but my hands slipped and I fell back. I hurt my knee! Now I really had to jump out! (I have already deleted from my memory that I made a trash-step to actually be able to get out.)
I gathered my clothes and as I walked up the stairs Lucero was calling on me, “mama are you back?”.
“What is that stinky smell?”
Yup, your mum was in a trash container today.
Grief is difficult, painful, sad, deep, silent, long, lonely, unpredictable…
Why did we evolve to feel grief?
Why is it that with all the distractions in the world, all the goals we set for ourselves, all the new people we meet, all the movies we watch, all the hugs from our friends, the kisses from our child, grief still creeps into us?
Why is it that we find ourselves tearing, at the most random times? Why is it that after eight months, we still fall apart? Is it because we still love, or is it because we loved? Which one is it, and does it really matter? Shouldn’t we just forget, and live?
I live, but grieve… There was life before my heart, and life after my broken heart. In between.. there was.. once… much more.
And there are.. the many whys.
(The names have been changed, for privacy.)
This is a story about two young hearts, who yearned for each other, for many years..
They were 18 when they met. Very adolescent, carefree, irresponsible, and rebellious. His name is Hashem, and she is Lara. He is Muslim Sunni, and she is Druz. She is a spoiled happy spirit, the youngest of a Lebanese warlord. He has a temper, reasonable, brilliant, with a big heart.
He skipped his classes to be with her. He failed and lied. He spent his college money. But she captured his heart. They spent their days and nights together. They laughed and played. They fought and yelled. But they knew each other and accepted.
She graduated, and he was struggling. His family found out his big secret. Her, and that in three years, he had only passed six classes. If he was ever going to stay in school, he had to break up with her. She is Druz, she is forbidden, and she distracted him.
Her father talks to him: “You and Lara have been together for a long time, but you know this will not last right? It is the family, and by family, I mean the whole big family.”
His mother talks to him: “Lara is Druz, my daughter in law will never be Druz. She will be a God fearing Sunni. And do you really want to mess with these people? Do you want your penis hanging on a pine tree?”. She is referring to a recent incident, of a Druz woman who ran away to marry a Sunni man. Her family tracked them down, and cut his private organ and hung it on a tree in the town square.
They break up. She flies to Paris, looking for a new life. She starts her own business, and few months later, gets engaged, to a Druz man. He focuses on school, and becomes an engineer. He closes his heart, but dreams about her. He talks about her. Not sadly though. There is this whole joy that overwhelms him when he mentions her. He says, I know her, he doesn’t say I knew her. I love her, not I loved her. He also says it’s over.
A year passes by, and Lara breaks her engagement. Then six months pass again. Hashem is now working, and loving his work. He knows he is brilliant, and he’s excelling. Lara… he doesn’t know anything about her. Sometimes though, he stares into the nothing in front of him, and smiles.
Then one day, Lara boards a flight to Lebanon. She arrives, and drives to Hashem’s Sunni town. “I am here”, she says.
Hashem hurries down the stairs. She is here. They drive to Beirut, to the new Zaytouna bay. They are not 18 anymore. She is a woman, and he is a man. But their hearts are still 18. She says, “I spoke to my father, I have been talking to him for a long time. I love you, and he accepts us now. We can get married!”
Hashem is looking at a woman he had not seen for a long time. He wanted her. He was staring at his beautiful love, who flew from Paris to tell him what he had always wished to hear, but accepted not to ever hear. He says, “Lara, no. It is over, you have to move on.”
He breaks her heart at a Zaytouna bay café. But no, she is 18 now, and she loves him, and she fought her father for years, to have him. She stands up and slaps him, with all her might she yells at him, “you are lying. You love me and I know you love me.” She does not see anyone around them. Zaytouna bay became quiet, and everyone was watching them. But she is 18, she only sees him, and she slaps him.
His heart is pounding, because he also does not see anyone around them, and he is also 18 now. He wants her, but he is Sunni, and she is Druz. He is overwhelmed, but he is drunk, with her.
They leave. The news that Lara is around spread, and that of the slap. His friends post on his Facebook page, one post after the other. “Ah, my cheek is hurting!”. “Oh boy that must have felt good.” Lara posts after them, “do you want one too?”.
Hashem drives to Lara’s Druz hometown. He has something to say to her warlord father, “I love Lara, I always have, and I always will. I rejected her yesterday, because I love her. I want to make a good life before I marry her, because then I can stand up for her, I can face my family for her, and I can give her a good life. But I need three years for that, and I cannot ask her to wait for me for three years. I wish she would, but I cannot ask her that. I want Lara, but I cannot have her now.”
Lara’s father tells him that he respects him for that, “whether you marry Lara now, or you marry her 3 years later, or you never marry her, I want you to know that you are always welcome in this house, and you are the one who knows Lara better than anybody, better than me, and you are the one who always had her heart.”
Hashem and Lara are 24 now, not together. They still love each other. She is in Paris, and he is in Beirut.
We live two hours away from D.C.. Just me and my daughter, Lucero. My family lives 6000 miles away, in a different world.
We moved to the area 8 months ago. The past few months, I only had one goal: make a good life in this place. Cooking, running, working, meeting people, traveling around, relaxing, and healing..
This weekend, we were at a pool party in D.C.. The party was on a building rooftop, overlooking D.C. and the monuments.
I took off my heals, and dipped my feet in the bubbling hot tub. I sat at the edge, watching Lucero giggle and play with the older kids. Their father put all of his three children, and Lucero, on his back and was running around in the pool. The kids were exhilarated.
I pulled out of the hot tub, did not put my heals back on, and walked towards the pool. The father cheered at me: “Let me adopt her, I want to adopt Lucero. Then you can be single again. She’s wonderful!”
I looked back at him, “No, she’s mine!”, and I thought to myself, “I am single, and I am Lucero’s mum.”