i’m thinking a lot abt compassion and empathy. what it means to be a friend. i’ve cut ties with a lot of people since my sister’s death because i’ve realized i no longer have room for shallow relationships. suffering makes people uncomfortable, they worry it is communicable. they don’t know what to say so they say nothing at all. and to hell with those people. to hell with everyone who couldn’t see past their own discomfort to give me a soft place to land. to hell with everyone who thought that if they never acknowledged my sister’s death we could exist in a realm where it never happened. suffering is a journey you make entirely on your own, but it is one that is simultaneously communal. i’ll make it through the dark, this i know for certain. and i couldn’t be more grateful to those that’ll meet me on the other side.
lately the body’s base needs matter less and less to me. i sleep less, eat less. i want to transcend my body- i am constantly at the edge of explosion. a mountain at rest. the biggest mistake any of us make is believing the ground beneath our feet is solid.
i am full to the brim. full of grief, of wild hope, of desperation. but there is a bright side to the moon- its reflection at the edge of the world, the shadow a body makes on the ground at twilight.
grief can do two of multiple things. you can close tight around the ache, or you can let grief expose you. you can let it open you wide until you give birth to yourself.
i feel full to the brim with love and kindness. i don’t want this grief to make me cruel. i want to commit to life, to love this tragic but beautiful yuletide of days.
these moments are glorious, in all of their splendid pain. i don’t mean to make this out to be any easier than it is. i just mean that these moments are filling. nyushi told me that our interactions mean the world. my girl is right- our interactions are the world. alone on a bench with a friend as the sun sets- this is the universe expanding in my heart.
one of my eighth graders wrote a poem the other day and said that love would save us. she was also right- grief is, above all else, an act of love. these small acts of grace save me every single day.
nyusha always sends me the right words at the right moment; in james baldwin’s eulogy, toni morrison wrote:
"yours was a tenderness of vulnerability, that asked everything, expected everything, and like the world’s own Merlin, provided us with the ways and means to deliver. I suppose that is why I was always a bit better behaved around you, smarter, more capable, wanting to be worth the love you lavished, and wanting to be steady enough to witness the pain you had witnessed and were tough enough to bear while it broke your heart, wanting to be generous enough to join your smile with one of my own, and reckless enough to jump on in that laugh you laughed. because our joy and our laughter were not only all right, they were necessary."
i was sitting on a bench with a friend who held me as i broke, who was brave so i would feel safe, who showed me his raw and honest truths. love will save us- these day to day graces, when we are both brave and fearless, at once bold and courageous. this is the only universe that matters, this one that we make and speak into existence. with our brimming hearts and tireless hands.
it’s great to see so many people speaking up about what’s going on in palestine, and standing in solidarity with palestinians. i’ve seen people who are not usually the least bit politically inclined joining protests and rallies and sharing informational articles. we have history and truth on our side, and slowly but surely, momentum as well.
social media has made it easy to connect with people who believe in a common cause all across the world. but it has also created a perverse culture of inaction and empty platitudes.
the revolution is not a hashtag, it is not a tweet, or a share, or an instagram photo. when we say ‘free palestine,’ we have to contextualize what that means. we cannot speak into a void, throw our hopes haphazardly into the wind. there is a map, a chart, a course to follow. what does a free palestine look like? what is our role as peoples committed to freedom and liberation in the creation of a world where there is no occupation? how can we stand beside our brothers and sisters and children that resist and fight against their continued dehumanization and annihilation?
when we hashtag #freepalestine, we mean the end of isreal’s illegal occupation. we mean the right of return. we mean a diaspora with a country to come back to. we mean olive trees and villages where women can watch their children grow old.
we live in a country that funds war and terror across the world. we pay upwards of 3 billion dollars to the state of israel. we supply them with the arms they use to murder innocent civillians. we live in a settler colony that is at war against its own people- its indigenous, its poor, its brown, its black, its migrant, its immigrant populations.
there are refugee children from honduras being warehoused in the united states. there are children being deported to countries that have been destabilized and ravaged by US economic and political policies. this week the nypd choked a black man to death- another reminder of the brutal and systemic practices of the police force in this country. there are people in detroit that are being denied access to drinking water.
gaza is a prison. guantanamo bay is a prison. black and brown men are being jailed indiscriminately in this country while political leaders that wage war and support genocide across the world aren’t asked to pay for their crimes. there is blood on all of our hands. there is blood flooding the streets of shajia’a, of chicago, of homs, of mosul.
when i say #freepalestine, i am making a commitment to human dignity, justice, and liberation. i am affirming that we all deserve to live freely, to drink clean water, to walk the streets of our neighborhoods without danger, to go to school, to work meaningful jobs, to be treated with dignity and respect, to earn a living wage.
i stand in solidarity with all those that walk and breath and fight and sacrifice for a better world. i stand in solidarity with the women who’ve watched missiles strike down the fruits of their wombs. the indigenous peoples of the world that have watched their ancestral lands be ravaged and desecrated. i stand in solidarity with those that have died, have been brutally murdered, all of the martyrs for a better world.
free palestine can’t be just a hashtag, devoid of political and historical context. it’s a commitment to the global struggle against capitalist exploitation, colonialism, nationalism, and all forms of oppression. it is a promise that we are not only voyeurs to the pain of the palestinian people, but witnesses to history, bridge builders and radical change makers willing to do the difficult work that will continue long after the public protests have ended and the news cameras stop rolling.
"Giving liberates the soul of the giver." Maya Angelou #servethepeople @ayanosman_
there are parts of ourselves that never heal because we’re unwilling to look ourselves in the eye.
sometimes i pretend my sister was never my sister in order to get through the day. she barrels into me at night though, so i don’t sleep.
i am (re)defining the world, (re)envisioning myself, (re)thinking everything i ever thought i knew. death is the only truth there is. grief is an exorcism of sorts. i’m learning not to make a bed of it. i am learning not to nourish it, not to feed it. i want to purge this weight from my body so i take to all sorts of unhealthy spectacles.
sometimes i will reach out to people and regret it immediately. what is anyone to do when confronted by this raging and crying constant mess i’ve become? i am scared and confused all the time.
but i am learning compassion and friendship. i am learning that love will break you, but that it will heal you too.
if i am being unflinchingly honest, death is really nothing spectacular. it is the most ordinary of human experiences. but it is the most extraordinary of ordinary things.
there is a part of me that feels irrevocably broken. a hole that no amount of time or love will fill.
adrienne rich: ‘there must be those among whom we can sit down and weep and still be counted as warriors.’
eleanor said the hole doesn’t get smaller, your heart gets bigger.
and sohayla said it doesn’t get easier, you get stronger.
i don’t know if this is true. only time and the grace of allah will tell.
i guess tonight i feel too close to the edge. i peered too keenly into the abyss. the void feels particularly wide and deep tonight.
things are beginning and ending, and i have never felt more lost and without a map. i keep searching for some semblance of my old life among these ruins, but the search is futile, i keep coming up with empty hands. how did i get here? i am constantly bewildered by this cruel and beautiful life.
Ask me where have I been
and I’ll tell you : “Things keep on happening.”
I must talk of the rubble that darkens the stones;
of the river’s duration, destroying itself;
I know only the things that the birds have abandoned,
or the ocean behind me, or my sorrowing sister.
Why the distinctions of place? Why should day
follow day? Why must the blackness
of nighttime collect in our mouths?
—Pablo Neruda, from “There’s No Forgetting (Sonata) ” in Selected Poems: Pablo Neruda. Grove Press, 1994
The heart moving through a tunnel,
in it darkness, darkness, darkness,
like a shipwreck we die going into ourselves
as though we were drowning inside our hearts
as though we lived falling out of the skin into the soul.
nothing feels beautiful or important. everything feels shallow and petty. i am always sad and i always miss my sister.
the prophet (saw) said that he that is not thankful to the people is not thankful to allah. in the first few weeks i cried on so many shoulders, was held by so many women, was fed by people i didn’t know and people i had known forever. today we tried to go through all the dishes and pots and pans and mattresses and extra blankets to try and figure out what was ours and what wasn’t. i guess i am saying alhamdulillah for allah’s blessings. i want to remind myself of the countless ways in which allah has shown his mercy. for sending us people that would walk this path alongside us, who would, in our darkest moments, light the way. there are so many of you that i’ve known for so long and some of you that i’ve never spoken to that have sent and continue to send me the sweetest messages. i thank you all and i thank allah. i carry your kindness and friendship in my heart.
the 27th marked 20 days. i can’t believe it’s already been 20 days. i can’t believe it’s only been 20 days. tonight my heartbreak feels fresh. tonight i feel like i will never learn to be strong. i am sleeping in my sister’s bed and feeling daunted and hopeless at how long and dark the path ahead seems. may allah give us sabr.
verily, only in remembrance of allah do hearts find rest.
A beautiful video done by our late sister : Ayanic-Bond. “The meaning of Islam.” This is one of the most heartbreaking yet beautiful things I have ever seen. Please continue to keep her and her family in your duas. Inna lillahi wa inna ilaihi raji’oun.
Islam is a peaceful religion, it’s not what people are claiming it is. I know that people think Islam is a hate filled religion but that is farthest from the truth. That’s one thing I try to get across to people is that it is a religion of love and peace, and it teaches me to be a better person every day.- Ayan Osman (March 1995-April 2014)
The hardest thing in the world, is hearing about the death of someone who was your age especially on tumblr. Ayanic-Bond has passed away today in a car accident along with a friend in Oregon.
She was only 19, and from what our mutual best friend Ayannish told me, she was the sweetest girl in the whole world. I never knew her, but as my sister in Islam my heart aches for her and her family and everyone that she was close to.
May Allah raise her ranks in the hereafter, may Allah reunite her with her family and friends in the highest levels of jannah. May Allah forgive her sins and multiply the reward for all of her good deeds.
Please everyone pray for her and her family. May Allah give them sabr and ease their hearts during the time of this sudden tragedy. Ayan was a daughter, a sister, and a best friend to many. It could have been any one of us. Please read Fatiha for her and keep her family in your prayers.
ameen thumma ameen. may allah guide and have mercy on us all. may he reunite us with our loved ones in the next life.
my sister’s janaazah is today. i ask that you make duaa for her forgiveness and mercy, and duaa that allah grants those of us left behind sabr. this is a bridge we’ll all cross, she’s only made the journey a little ahead of us. jazaakumallahu kheyr for your messages. may allah guide and have mercy on us all. if you live in portland the salaah is at 1:30 at mesjid assaber inshallah.