Today Was…

…the day that my father died, September 11, 2002. I have to admit that I barely knew him, but have had to piece together his life from my brief memories and stories that his friends, family, and loved ones shared. I was a daddy’s girl, up until age 5. According to all accounts, he spoiled me rotten. After my parent’s divorce, we moved to California and 18 years passed before I saw him at the age of 23. I came to Florida out of my own accord in 1999, seeking reconciliation, seeking to find a part of myself. My mother was never one to bash my father, although she was often disappointed that his contact was sporadic. He made no effort to send for me and I spent years trying to placate that void. I understood his pain and forgave him for failing me.

During the first year anniversary of 9-11 I remember listening to radio broadcasts commemorating the dead. Loved ones shared their stories of their last words or things they would have shared had they known that they’d never see their fathers/mothers/brothers/sisters/husbands/wives/daughters/sons/friends ever again. A deep urgency and anxiety filled me to reconnect with my father and family in Florida in light of the loss so many had experienced that day. I anticipated that the search wouldn’t be easy, but vowed to get started once I returned home from work. But the moment I stepped in the door and turned on the answering machine and heard, “Margari, this is you cousin Nancy…” I knew he was gone. I called her and she confirmed my greatest fear, I no longer had a father.

My father was a flawed man, but he had many good sides. He was a sensitive soul, haunted by his memories of the Vietnam War and wounded by his own failures and by those around him. At his memorial services I talked to his friend. She told me how he used to speak of me, how sad he was that I wasn’t in his life, but that he felt too ashamed to contact me. I learned that he took care of family members on the sick beds as they went through the long drawn out deaths. His family members spoke of his generosity and the ways he stood by people to take care of them. My cousins on both my mother and father’s side often tell me he was one of the coolest cats you knew. I experienced him, I got to know him, I got to see his protective side, his jealous fathering side, his gentleness, and his story telling. Sometimes I envy those who knew my father more than me, but try to let those feelings rest and be grateful that someone can tell me bits about him.

I just want to commemorate my father and provide a reminder for each of us. I pray that each one of us who has lost contact with someone we love to try to reconnect. Don’t let the time slip past. Don’t worry about being ashamed for failing them. But just try…

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5 thoughts on “Today Was…

  1. I just want to commemorate my father and provide a reminder for each of us. I pray that each one of us who has lost contact with someone we love to try to reconnect. Don’t let the time slip past. Don’t worry about being ashamed for failing them. But just try…

    Ameen, dear. May God grant your father peace & light & closeness to Him, and may his memory live on in your heart beautifully.

    Love & hugs to you,
    Baraka

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  2. This was such a touching post. I am sorry for your loss. May Allah (swt) grant your father eternal bliss and peace in Jannat-ul-Firdous (ameen).

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  3. Aziza,

    this was really moving. We’ll speak on it but just wanted to say thanks for writing this piece. It changed my thoughts on the conversation of the phenomenon of 9/11 as it currently stands. U-Penn’s campus had a 9/11 commemoration. This year more than last year, I was a bit more unsure of what I aught to be feeling or doing that day. I must remember that history is an ongoing process, that every day, ever year, every 9/11, history continues onward and onward. May Allah console you as well as rest his soul.

    – M

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  4. Margari this really made me cry. Mashallah it seems you are in a place where you can see your dad as a 3-dimensional and dynamic man, not just ‘father’ or ‘father who failed me.’ That’s a real mature space to be at. I am trying to get there myself. God bless…

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  5. Salaam alaikum all,
    Thank you for your kind words and prayers for my father.
    Barakah,
    I’m in the Bay Area and I hope to meet up soon. We’ll have to have some real hugs and not just cyber ones.
    Muse, Ameen. His presence was definitely a gift to those who loved him. As I move forward with his memory, and the many family members and friends who have passed, I am trying to focus on what they shared and the lessons they taught me.
    Marc,
    I agree, I honestly didn’t know how I should feel or do during the commemorations. I think people focus on the incident and forget that thousands are continuing to die from acts of terrorism (whether they are terrorist organizations or state sponsored engines of terrorism ). When we experience loss, we cannot just focus on our own, but understand this is what connects us all. On that day, I experienced my own tragedy and I understood the feelings of the family members who lost loved ones. It makes 9-11 commemoration less of a political act for me to focus on the humanistic aspects. This, I thin is missed in the commerorations. Fortunately for me, had just returned to Santa Clara University, which is a Jesuit school. One of the most moving speeches I ever heard in my life was given by a Muslim woman who said that if each one of us try to see the light Allah placed in each person, we could not harm another soul. If we saw that light, we wouild be filled with love for humanity. I cannot convey the beauty of her speech. But she reminded me of how our modern society depersonalizes so many people.

    Luckyfatima,
    Thank you for your generous words. There are many days when I wonder if I’ve grown up at all. But I’m working on it. I’m just trying to appreciate the bounty Allah has given me. As I reflect on my own faults, I have become more understanding of others. I can not focus on what wrongs were done to me and harbor resentments. By understanding him, I was able to free myself. It often makes me sad when I see young women and men trapped in that vicious cycle of resenting their parents. They did the best they could with the tools they were given. We too will be in their shoes, and maybe our children will resent us. But we are taught to be kind to our parents and to respect them. This is my own way of doing that.

    My father died in Florida and my cousins brought his cremated remains to Ohio. There was even some drama about who would pay the costs, as I was his only living relative. Although some family members assumed I was well off, I was a broke full-time student. The sad thing was, that on official forms I had to disappear as his only daughter. Eventually my cousins in Florida collected the funds from the family members who enjoyed my father’s presence. One cousin worked hard to get my father’s rights as a veteran. I’ve never been to my father’s final resting place because I had to leave Ohio before the details of his military burial were finalized. I hope to go there someday soon, as well as visit my sister’s grave.

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