I'm getting married.
There, it's out there now.
I've been rattling my brain thinking how I'm going to start this years birthday letter. This is probably the hardest one to date I've had to write. Actually, this is definitely going to be the second hardest I have to write that I can think of.
I'm getting married. And you're not here.
I need you.
I don't know why exactly, or how, I don't have a specific reason, but I need you, just to be here. Every time I think how you won't be here, how there is no father daughter dance, no happy tears from your eyes, or mine, it breaks me a little. Or that I'll glance over, and not see you sitting at a table, with your legs crossed, leaning back and absorbing it all, it tugs at me. Every time.
I'm so lucky to have Mama, Saadi, and all these friends.. My family. But it's just not the same. No matter how you try to spin it, or what order you put things in.
Every time I imagine a situation where I need a second opinion, to decipher a man action, and the way their mind works, I hesitate, I linger on the hypothetical replies that would reach me if you were here. I try very hard to conjure your words, your face, the cadence of your voice.
Your voice that I'm still holding onto. I can still hear the words "Shou ya hayati", "Shou ya ghandoura" and "Karma!" being shouted from another room, clearly. And of course "Makarem!". But I'm struggling more and more to thread together much else, and it terrifies me. I've said it in previous letters, and I''ll keep saying it: I'm scared of you fading.
In fact I'm running out of photos to use, even on this goddamn blog. There are no new photos. No "selfies" with you at a bar, or in the car. Or somewhere new.
I'm stuck with the old. And as much as I cherish the old, I really really would like something new!
I'd like photos of us after I've taken vows, photos of you holding me while I adjust a heel, because yeah, I still can't walk in them. I'd like a photo of you, and me, and Mama, and Louis.
I want photos of me in the girl-iest dress I've worn to date, next to you. As you laugh and tell me how pretty I am, but how funny I look struggling with it
I'd like to look funny to you, struggling with it. Instead of just, well, struggling with it.
Struggling with it all.
And you'd like him. He's the quiet kind. A bit like you in that sense. And he's a good person, honest, and kind. He's loyal and respectful. All the things you'd want in a son-in-law. And I'm taking this journey with him now. I'd be lying if I said I couldn't use some advice, I've been needing advice along the way for a while now anyway.
I don't think you ever stop needing advice. I just think the way you take it changes... Although to be fair, I have your voice in my head always, indirectly giving me advice. Even through dying, you've managed to be a great father. My voice of reason, the one I go to in my head. Who needs Jiminy Cricket?
(Were you telling me to buy a lottery ticket that day last, year by the way? I'm sorry. I didn't. I should have.)
I've gone through so much, I'm faced with new situations all the time, some very hard, and my only comfort is that I'm doing the best to make you proud. I'm trying to do what is right, even when it's hard on me, or it complicates things. I have to do what is right, regardless, because it's all bigger than us.
You radiated that when you were here. It's not just about us. It's about everything. It's about how you fit into the gears in motion, do you keep them moving or do you stop them.
And can you look yourself in the mirror in spite of it.
Meanwhile, everything here is moving and changing. What do I do in this world as it is today? The country has changed so much, I find myself having that stereotypical, lame thought, "I'm so happy he's not here to see this". As if you had a choice.
But it's true. The country has changed, the people have changed. The whole world has changed! I don't know where the tunnel ends and the light begins.
I find myself more anxious, worrisome. The big decisions about the future loom over me all the time. And I can't figure out if I'm looking in the right direction (there I go, needed your insight again...)
Where do I go from here? Do I leave? Mum keeps saying "just give it some time", but how much time can you give before you realise you're too late?
I guess there are limits to Jiminy Cricket after all.
Priorities are starting to shift, and with it horizons and outposts.
I guess this is a discussion for another time. For now, the reins are tethered to the same outpost.
It's you're birthday today. You are 66. I am turning 31 in 9 days.
And I'm getting married 20 days after that.
And I'm going to conjure you. The best I can, the hardest I can try.
Please be there.
Till then, I'll see you here, in this safe corner of the internet, my little sanctuary, my garden of letters.
I'll see you everywhere.
I love you Baba. So very much.
Birthday Letter 2015