Ties that bind

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A good friend of mine was visiting Seattle recently and it was amazing in the way that meeting old friends always is. However this time it was slightly different. She lost her brother in a tragic accident early this year and except for a couple times that I met her in the days following that, we were meeting properly for the first time. She and I talked about life, its fragility and unpredictability, about my father and her brother, and the things that have strengthened us. Life is strange like that, the bonds we automatically feel with those that have lost a loved one just like us. Because we all feel the pain of each other. We have been there. In a strange way, our tragedies become the ties that bind us together.

When I returned to Seattle last year after my dad passed away, I will never forget how this one friend, who I barely knew then, said she wanted to come over. She had lost her dad 7 years ago, and as she sat with me and told me her story, I felt consoled. I felt hope through the tears that kept pouring down my face, because she had been through a similar battle and here she was sitting in front of me, having the courage to tell her story where I could barely tell mine to my own head. And that she had survived through it. I remember asking her questions about her journey, about her family, and her strength gave me strength.

I had another friend who had lost her dad many years ago and some of the things she had said while telling me about that time kept going through my head in the days my father passed away. Suddenly the things she had said, which I had even found strange earlier as I couldn’t relate to them, started making sense. As my family went through tragedy, I felt the exact same things that she had described to me that first time we had met a couple years before that. It was this same friend some months later who came to my house for an Eid party at our place, and saw the picture of my dad and Anya on my fridge, and just couldn’t stop her tears. In the middle of a happy house full of people celebrating Eid, we were hugging each other with tears streaming down our faces. I will never forget that moment. We both knew in our hearts, that even through joy, even through celebrations, at the back of our thoughts were our dads who were not in this world to share these joys with us anymore.

And there are so many more of such little stories. Of all those that reached out just to say that they knew how it feels. Of those that lost loved ones after I lost Papa, and I felt their loss like my own. Because every time you hear the news of someone losing a loved one, you start remembering your own time, your own feelings, your own helplessness.

To lose someone is to lose a piece of yourself forever, and only someone who has been that, who has felt that vulnerable and helpless can understand it that way. And sometimes you need someone in your life that can understand your pain that way, even if you don’t talk about death or pain or your loved one. The bonds we form with these people feel so strong, I can’t explain it. With people I have never talked to or met, that send me and my sister all those messages about their loved ones that they lost. I feel it, I feel their pain like mine.

As humans, these become are most intimate of connections, like invisible bonds that connect us, our losses and our challenges and our difficulties, hold the power to bring us closer. I feel myself so lucky that in some of the worst days of my life, I had people in my life that gave me hope. I saw their strength, I saw their courage, I saw the lives they had made for themselves and it renewed hope that I and my family will be fine. I am so thankful to God for them and so thankful to them for reaching out. I remember each and everyone of them and I will never forget.

Just wanted to write about this. Thanks for reading.

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