One day, I hope I can stand before you both. Touch your tombstones. Laugh with you and place a flower over your burial ground. I never had the chance to meet you both, but your love story will stay in my heart for all my life to come.
My grandparents, whom I never had the chance to meet. Their names, Muhammad and Azeeza. The most fond memories I have of them was speaking to them on the phone on Sunday mornings when I was a little girl. They would say excitedly, “Laila, habibty.”
My middle name is Laila, that meaning night sky. I was told that when I was born my eyes were dark like the Arab roots but glistened like a star. I was told I looked just like my grandmother.
Although I never met my grandparents, they remain a memory in pictures. And they visioned me grow up into the young woman I am today. At least through pictures.
My grandmother died two summers ago. The first week of August. She had a heart attack. And while I know she was very sick, it did not help that she was too far from the hospital where the route was closed. But I won’t get into that.
My father left to see his mother, days before she died. It was the first time he had seen his mother in 30 years. And while the rest of my father’s siblings left her alone in the hospital. He remained. The oldest son of her eight children. He bathed her, fed her, sat with her and talked all about how great America was and how well I was doing.
And in an instant, the roles switched and he was the nurturer. And he sat there as he lost the most important person in his life. As if she waited till she saw him one last time, before she went.
My grandfather suffered a long year of depression after losing his wife. He died this past summer, the same first week of August when my grandmother died. It was said that her death hurt him too much.
My grandparents met when they were 14 years old; they became best friends. And while it was a custom for arranged marriages at that time, they were both happy to marry one another and their families approved. They remained together for almost 60 years. And they are buried now together.
I long to walk through those middle east lands, up the path, and into the cemetery grounds to their tombs. I want to bow down and touch the dirt. I want to feel their presence and meet them for the first time.
I never had the typical grandparents like in the movies. No grandmother cooking dinner for me or a grandfather slipping money into my pockets while he told long stories. I never had that.
But I imagine that Muhammad and Azeeza would have been just like that and more. I hope they’re looking down on me to see all that I have accomplished and how much I resemble them in looks and spirit.
And the olive trees continue to sway in the breeze and my grandparent’s spirits continue to run with the wind.