A River in Egypt


I imagine myself standing at the edge of the Nile, attuned to its cyclical ebb and flow which occasionally causes floods and overwhelms those who have built their lives alongside it.

I live near a different river. When I say it in my native New York accent, though, it may sound like the same place.


Actually, it’s not a place at all.  It’s a state of being.

Denial is an excellent defense against trauma.  At times, living in Denial is the only way to prevent myself from being engulfed by pain.

Grateful though I am to be spared physical pain, I suffer from a spiritual pain that threatens to drown me.  I grasp the branch of a tree which grows along the banks of the river.  I look up at the tree’s canopy. Seeing that I am sheltered by a weeping willow, I yearn for an unyielding stalk of bamboo.

I can’t bring myself to write about my feelings, because writing would lead to their acknowledgment and acceptance.  Denial allows me to keep anger and sorrow at bay.

Yet, I write:

“A mother who has only recently buried her son—the fruit of her womb—is forced to confront the injustice of her life. Her hope for the future was cut off, its death hastened by the son of another woman.  I have heard her cry for mercy.”

Beyond these few sentences, I cannot write a word.  As a mother, I can too easily imagine the nightmare of burying a child. I willfully deny myself Empathy in order to cope with the enormity of her Pain. I seek comfort in reading the written words of others, but I will not commit my own words to the pages of my notebook.

Instead, for now, I wade among the bulrushes of Denial.

Perhaps I will find words of consolation there.


Comments (4)

I don’t know where to go with this. Unfathomable.
Too tragic to articulate.
This mother is speaking out. She has said:
“Trayvon was our son, but Trayvon is your son,” said Sybrina Fulton, Trayvon Martin’s mother, to a hushed room. “A lot of people can relate to our situation. And it breaks their heart just like it breaks mine. Thank you for everything.”
“It’s a nightmare. It’s hard to sleep,” says Sybrina. “Everything reminds me of him and the only thing that’s fueling us to keep pressing on for justice is the fact that we know that justice will be served.”
Really, I ask what comfort does community or justice bring to a mother who has lost her son?

Agreed: It’s every parent’s nightmare. An unfathomable loss.

Just watching and reading your blog makes it always seem so surreal that such pain can exist in life. I could never imagine yet struggle to deal with the reality of this cycle of life. I remember when a close friend lost his 10 year old in seconds to an asthma attack. His life was turned upside down now two years later as we still try to collect our thoughts the father became the mentor for the entire community to help them live for the moment.

Shaheen, I am always awed by people who can somehow recover and give back to the community after their lives are overturned as you describe. I hope your friend continues to heal.

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