In The Name of Allah, the Most Beneficent, the Most Merciful
My Dear son Osama,
If you are reading this letter, it means that I have passed on from this world and have moved on to the next. And I am sorry that I couldn’t keep my promise to you. I know I have promised to always be there for you, but in this life, nothing lasts forever.
I know you must be wondering why I wrote this letter and why it is given to you after my death. Well, there are a few things, which we never discussed and I never knew how to broach with you. So, I figured that this was the best way to do it, to ease the burden that must lie on your shoulders, and that lies painfully on mine.
I know that I have taught you much throughout your life, but you managed somehow to teach me the ultimate lesson of my life. You taught me how to love unconditionally. Yes, Osama, you taught me that lesson, but I was never able to express it or show it in the way you might have wanted me to.
Years ago, I realized your preferences and I can’t begin to explain to you how much pain and disappointment I felt then. I was tempted so many times to confront you, but I was never able to do so. I guess my sense of denial overshadowed everything else; for such a long time I treated the whole thing as though it were a nightmare that had never really happened. I pretended not to know anything about it, but I did feel an overwhelming sense of shame and disgrace at times. I tried so hard to hide it from you and the rest of the family.
I just didn’t know how to react to any of it. I couldn’t believe that my only son, dear to me above all else, would be the cause of the deepest of wounds to my heart.
As I said, I did attempt a few times to approach you and talk to you, but I failed miserably. I let my pride and cultural barriers stand between us every time.
I know that I made you do things in your life against your will, just because I knew how much you cared for your mother and for me. I knew that you would do anything to placate us; I knew that you would do anything to keep your secret safe. I knew which buttons to press to get you to do the things I wanted you to do. I just knew you too well, and I want to say I am sorry for each and every time I forced you to do something against your will.
I hope that you can find it in that big heart of yours to forgive me for failing to give and show you my unconditional love and support. I hope that you can forgive me for making you do things that I saw as best for you, but in reality were only to satisfy my selfish desire to turn you into what I wanted you to be, rather than simply letting you be.
Last, but not least, I want you to know that I have always loved you, from the moment the doctor placed you in my arms to welcome you into this world, to the moment my body is lowered into the ground. I also want you to know that I was always proud of you and your accomplishments. I am proud of the man you turned out to be. I hope that one day your son makes you as proud as you made me; I hope that he loves you just as much as you loved me. Teach him everything you know, teach him everything I once taught you, and let him be a free bird to fly high and soar.
I want you to know that I will always be there with you in spirit, every step of the way, until we meet again in the next life. All you have to do is look within your heart and soul and you will find me right there beside you.
I love you,
The Melt Down:
Why didn’t he tell me all of this in person?
Why did I have to find out this way?
Why did he do it this way?
Why couldn’t he confront me for all those years?
When did he find out?
And why couldn’t he say something in those last forty-eight hours I spent with him in the hospital?
I sat there by his bedside the whole time in the hospital, as he talked about everything but the one thing we had both hidden for so long. He spent his waking hours telling me to take care of everyone else and listing all the things that should be done in the event of his death. He knew he was dying. Mom knew he was dying, I saw it in the way she held and kissed him before she went home to rest. I knew my worst nightmare was about to unfold right before my very eyes.
But why did he waste his last few breaths on telling me where he wanted to be buried? And what he should be buried in?
I already knew all of this; I knew he wanted to be buried in New York, close to us; I knew he wanted to be buried in the same Ihram cloth he wore to Hajj. He even included all of that in his will. He could have talked to me like he used to when I was a little kid; he could have hinted or something. It would have been so much better to hear those words uttered by him, rather than reading them in a letter from a lawyer.
I never felt this lost and empty before. I feel like a huge part of me is missing. He has left this world and left me all alone. I have been running away from him all these years and avoiding any confrontation, when all I wanted to do is run into his arms as I did when I was a child.
I was a total idiot for running and hiding all this time, out of my own fears and insecurities, but I didn’t want to disappoint him. I didn’t want to hurt him. I didn’t want to hurt the one man who has been there for me every step of the way since birth.
I always thought it was better to keep some things hidden from him, but why didn’t he tell me that he knew? Why didn’t he say something before it was too late?
Or did he try, and I didn’t pay attention? Or maybe he couldn’t try.
Maybe, he didn’t know how to do it.