(initially drafted on August 10, 2013)
I’ve been meaning to write this post for a couple weeks now but I couldn’t. For one, I haven’t been able to articulate what I want to say and two, the circumstances that triggered me to write it in the first place have taken up most of my time since. And I couldn’t be happier. But more on that later.
See, I’m what you would call a control freak. I’ve been self-diagnosed recently and am so glad I have as up until that point, I had no idea what that uneasy feeling I got when I was unable to control a situation was.
Depending on your beliefs, spirituality or religion, you may or may not think that you ever have control over a situation, whatever it may be.
I believe that God has given me freedom of will which allows me to have control over what goes on in my life, but not all of it. It’s the “not all of it” part that I have a problem with. It’s the unpreventable, unfixable, undoable, irreversible that freak me out; hence, the “disorder.” I want to be in control to the point that I couldn’t go on a slide at the water park a few weeks back because I felt like I was throwing myself into the unknown and that was too much for me.
Throughout my adult life, I’ve faced numerous uncontrollable situations and they range anywhere from not getting into Harvard to falling for the wrong guy. How did I deal with them? Okay I think. I mean the first and only time I’ve been really drunk my whole life was the day I got the rejection letter. And I’m still dealing with the latter given that it’s happened more than once and suspect it will happen a couple more times before I learn. But I’ve done okay.
Until the uncontrollable hit home. My very own. My téta.
You always hear of the “hal marad” (that disease) and the “Alla yeb3do” (may God keep it away from us and our loves ones) and for some reason you think that you and your family members are invincible. That it will never happen to you. Well it could and it did to the woman who practically raised me. The amazing woman who hasn’t and is incapable of ever hurting anyone.
That, I didn’t take so well.
Téta is in Lebanon and I’m in Abu Dhabi and when I first found out, I held it in and kept it together for my mom’s sake. Until I called téta one day and she couldn’t talk. That destroyed me. Only five days earlier I called her and we laughed and laughed on the phone but that day, she couldn’t. That’s when I knew that I needed to be there. That I needed to leave everything behind and be there.
A few years ago, back when I was living in the States, my other téta passed away and I couldn’t make it back in time and I still regret it everyday to this very day. I wasn’t going to let the same thing happen this time.
When I look back, I see téta in every big moment in my life. When I first walked, talked, my first day of school, my First Communion, my exams, my grades, every airport pick up and drop off. All of it. And I wasn’t about to let her go through this on her own. So I packed up and left.
I was there for 2 weeks and I think I spent more time with her than I had over the last 9 years (since I left Lebanon). And it wasn’t the sitting with her while checking what’s app, updating my Facebook status or plucking my eyebrows kinda time. It was actual quality time. She had to make an effort to talk but she did despite my pleading for her to rest and not worry. She wanted to tell me so much and I was eager to listen. She told me everything from when she fed me my own méghlé when I was a week old to when I talked at 10 months to her prayers to God that He keeps me safe every step of the way. And He has.
One night, four people were in the room with her trying to get her settled in bed as she couldn’t move much. After they left, she signalled for me to sleep next to her. She was too close to the edge for me to fit so she moved herself with all her might until I could. She put her hands on my hair and we just sat there, in silence. I knew right then and there that I was exactly where I was supposed to be.
Téta’s heart is still beating in Lebanon (heavily but it’s beating) and I’m back in Abu Dhabi. I don’t know if I’ll ever get to see her again but I do know that I did what I should have done and told her everything that I wanted to tell her especially how very much I love her.
I can’t begin to explain how hard it was to watch someone you love as much as I love téta suffer. Not eat, not talk or walk when she was the one who taught me all of it. I had to sit there and watch her shut down little by little and there wasn’t a damn thing I could do about it. This would probably be hard for anyone, let alone someone who wants to be in control of it all.
See you can’t and I know that now. But there is a whole lot you can do to make the ride easier to swallow.