it is almost 4 am here in nablus. and it is now march 9th. a day that will always be remembered as the worst day of my life. it is the day that my mom died 17 years ago today. i realized recently that i have now lived without her in my life longer that i lived with her. the photograph above is the first one i have with her as she came into my life when i was 8 years old. there are not really any words to describe gratitude i have that jane gibbons became my mother. that she was willing to love, take care of, mold the young mind of a very bratty, spoiled kid. but she did.
all of the important lessons in my life come from her. all the values i hold most dear. the value, for instance, of knowing that love binds people together and not blood. this was the most important lesson of all. i don’t have enough time in the day to list out all the many things she taught me. many are just intrinsic to me. but i know that what guides my life today–the quest for knowledge, the desire to use skills as a researcher and writer to dig beneath the surface is another thing she taught me. as a journalist and writer she never told me how to do these things. like many lessons one takes from one’s parents, these are things we observe as children. her sense of justice, too, is something that always left a huge impression on me. her stories about protesting the war in vietnam, for instance, are stories that informed my sense of right and wrong as well as the sense that silence is complicity when you don’t speak out and act.
of course these are some reasons why i think about my mom every day. but today is always a day where i can’t escape the loss. and this year seems different too. in a couple of weeks i will be 40 years old. i will enter the same decade that she was when she died. she died of breast cancer when she was 49. and while it is not rational, having a mom who didn’t even make it to 50 has always made me feel like life ends in your 40s. i know, this makes no sense on a rational level; even my grandma, her mom, is a spunky, lively 84 year old woman, whom i treasure and love with all my heart. and i am so lucky to still have her in my life. and of course today is always a day i think about my grandma. my grandma who has lost so much: my mom, my uncle, my grandpa, and far too many other loved ones to count. and yet she thrives. and in spite of all my own feelings of loss i will never be able to comprehend what my grandma goes through having outlived both of her children. still, she is the only one who knows how i feel on a day like today because both of us shared my mom as our best friend. as our closest confidant. as the one we miss most in the world, especially today. especially today.