To be honest, I’m scared. In some ways, this year will likely end in the way it began. Despite the fact that I remember what that was like, even that it wasn’t so horrible….and remember that there are far more painful things I’ve endured since then, I am still frightened. In my humanness, I wish that a detailed itinerary of all the ways Allah will meet my needs and be there for me would be outlined for the next several months or years. In reality, I often only find those things out in the days or moments of the clinch. And that’s OK, because it’s still teaching me that Allah isn’t letting me down.
But at night, at around 11 PM or so, it gets quiet and lonely. I think about everyone whom I love or loves me, and who is on my “team”. I know who has my back. It’s just sometimes, I wish one of them were here to sit with me at my dining table, share a cup of cocoa, and let me cry on their shoulder. I wish they were here to give me a hug and a kiss on the cheek. Sometimes you can know things in your head, or even get late night texts of encouragement that come without warning, but there’s nothing like a good old fashioned embrace or real hand to hold when the landscape of your world is redrawn yet again.
I write every day to counter the buildup of hindering emotions. I write all the secrets that I can’t share here: all the predictions that play out choreographically, all the events that unfold sequentially, and all the hopes that lay themselves to rest one by one, stacked in shallow graves. I write them in hidden diaries, filed under obscure names, on a hard drive across town.
I make dua, constantly. Every twinge that crosses my heart I circle with my words and give to Allah. I tell Him everything, even when I feel I have made too many of my own mistakes, because when it all boils down He is my only Wakil. I hang on to the belief that no matter what emotional state I’m in, what circumstances I face, whether I am being treated rightly or wrongly, He is there with me, knowing what it’s like to face such things. I thank Him for every blessing, even if it’s something simple as a kindness that is my right anyway. I cry. As often as I need to, I cry to Him when it gets to be overwhelming….like I am right now.
I think what’s most frightening about my present place is knowing that it is one that won’t leave a loophole, an exit to return through. This change will be a final change, a permanent shift. It’s as though I’m watching the door close slowly…a little more with each new development. I stand fixed, though it’s painful, reminding myself in so many ways why this is inevitable, and why it’s really not a bad thing.
I would love a glimpse into my life a year from now. To see Shukurah at about 9 months old, and the boys all ready to start another school year. Jedidiah will be a freshman in high school then, and Eden will be in 7th grade. Jabiyr will be in 4th. What will I be writing about? What will I be missing from this old life, what will I be savoring of the new? Will I do something crazy, and leave all the dunya here behind and go home? Will I be sitting in a small apartment in some small California town, getting a hug from my newest sister-friend? That wouldn’t be so bad….but it’s not sure. Perhaps I will still be living in this house, making cocoa by myself, and sitting at the kitchen table with my cat Honey and silently crying because it’s hard to give up hope that’s been held so long. I’m sure I would write a poem about it then, and at least feel sated enough to go to bed.
There’s this thing I do, that in sufi tradition is called “maraqaba”. It’s not something that anyone taught me to do, or that I even knew was a “practice” among any groups until years after I did it the first time. To be honest, it’s something I started to do as a Christian, because I had a very lonely and isolated childhood and it was the only thing I could find comfort in. I used to imagine I could talk to Jesus then. I would tell him my worries, and imagine what he might say to comfort me. I guess when I became Muslim, I thought I could still do it, just in a different way. I never thought I was doing anything significant or intentionally mystical…just a small thing to help me through a long night.
The first time I imagined being able to talk to Prophet Muhammad SAWS was in 2005, when I was going through custody for the first time with my ex husband. Things were in a very bad place, but I can’t share all the details of why here. I needed someone, and I was alone…so I imagined I could travel back in time and talk to Prophet Muhammad SAWS to find some ease. Sure enough, I found ease, and in my imaginary scenario Prophet Muhammad SAWS chained up my ex husband so he could do me no harm. Interestingly, I won the first court battle, and the second when he tried to re-file on grounds that it was a misjudgment. Since that ‘maraqaba’, my ex has not had any leverage over me at all.
The second time I did this was around the time I began this blog, regarding all the circumstances that were going on then. I was essentially told all those issues would work out…and they did.
A couple months ago I did it again. This time I was told that no matter what happens, I have support because my intentions are good. I’m going to try to hang on to that. I know it could just be my imagination, but if one believes they have divine support in the face of immense challenges and heartbreak, then there is strength inside the fear, isn’t there? There’s courage, and courage is what I need right now.