Everything Will Change In A Year: April 20, 2019

I saw a quote this morning that made me think: “Look around you, and enjoy, be grateful; in a year, everything will be different.”

Last Weekend, April 13, A beautiful day in Ogunquit, ME

As I look back a year, with or without the help of social media, so many things have changed, for me. Especially, in the lives of my children. But also, in my own life.

Last Spring, I was a pensive from the roller-coaster feeling from my constantly changing role at work; I was also in pendulum motion, from my home that I love, in Florida, to the cold of Boston. I had a feeling that this Boston chapter of my life, has to come to a close soon. And, by Fall, my role ended; allowing me to seek what I have wanted all along.

This Spring, I am ready to move to Florida, permanently.

Some things have become more certain, and other, more dispensable things, people or feelings, have dissipated. There is no lingering nostalgia about losing these feelings, which didn’t serve me.

My children have made tremendous strides in a year.

After a re-defining 2018, Daiyaan graduated college in 2018 and found her professional footing, bought her “dream” Jeep (that she has named Natasha, after the singer Natasha Bedingfeld) and now wants to buy her first home this Summer/Fall. She is starting to put down her own roots, in a place she loves. She has chosen a healthy lifestyle of balance. She took her first ever solo trip, and conquered Puerto Rico; she has grown up.

Last Spring, Shania, competed to become her Middle School Vice President and won! She has switched from softball to golf and today, loves basketball as her main school sports; instead of acting in plays, now she is co-directing, for the second year, a school play! She was accepted to attend the prestigious Dana Hall school in Wellesley, MA, but instead, is heading to be with family and joining the pre-law program at her new choice school in Florida.

As their lives unfold, and I see these two beautiful women take their next steps, I enjoy listening to their musings, and life interactions. The new friends they make, and the relationships those fray over time. I tell them my stories, from that particular time in my life that maybe relevant to their experience.

Even though I was raised as a teenager in a different continent, in a completely different era, with no electronic gadgets, or Google, to help answer my questions, the struggles of all awkward teenagers, or young people defining their dreams, are still the same.

Whether you are 13, 23 or 52, Constantly, we search for belonging, love and certainty; it’s tough to accept that none of these feelings are constant, and just to maintain an equilibrium, is a lot of work!

This morning, five of my close friends (same age group), are in deep pain: one from a broken hip (from a fall), another from domestic abuse, and one more, with cancer. Two of my best childhood friends lost their mothers in the last weeks – I knew these loving moms – I have eaten meals with them at their dining tables; having lost my own mom a few years ago, I know that big hole in their hearts are not healing soon.

I pray that my friends have the courage and support to bear the pain they are feeling today. When you experience pain, the depth, the excruciating nature of it, numbs us. There is nothing anyone can say or do, to make you feel differently.

Like last year, I know with certainty, this year, there will be those moments of joy, and sadness. You know there will be a Spring of hope, and the still of Summer.

I know, that whatever incremental, or disruptive changes we are experiencing, pain or happiness, it too shall pass.

It fatigues me to think that, the pain and frustration of the political turmoil we experience today in the US (and resultantly, the world) will only sharpen in the next twelve months.

In my adult life, I have seen and experienced progress, and I don’t give up hope, but I choose to take a long view on history. While things are not perfect, I see progress in health, well-being and innumerable sources of joy.

This weekend, in my little microcosm, I am again, taking a good look at everything and everyone around me.

Acknowledging and accepting that change is continuous and constant – I will do my best to appreciate all those gifts that I have in my life today. I am grateful to the Universe for the love, beauty, health and contentment that I am experiencing today.

I know, everything will change in a year.

Hanging out with Daiyaan and Shania @Portsmouth, NH

Commemorating a Disaster: 2 years and a few days later

It’s easy to celebrate a birthday, an anniversary, a victory or a successful completion of something meaningful; but it’s excruciatingly painful to remember that particular day that your child was hurt, or your parent died, or your loved one left.

It happens to all of us; in one way or another, in small or big ways; tragedies and disasters are part of the human landscape and in many ways define who we are or who we become.

How does one get over that day, or that particular moment when the car accident happened; how do you remember that moment that you throw soil on the draped body of someone you truly love or that day you watched the disoriented face of someone you thought you loved, on a TV or hospital monitor, with the blazing lines of security lights flickering on and off.

Life is all about moving forward; every day, every minute is about that particular moment and the next moment that comes after that. The past is “water under the bridge”. Still, the past creates a context of who we are, why we are here and in a lot ways, provides clues to where we may ultimately end up. It’s impossible to forget the past and not acknowledge that these challenging times define our character and how we treat the rest of the world.

One of the first tragedies of my seven or eight year-old life was the day our little, happy-go-lucky daschund puppy disappeared. In our tranquil Joypahar, the absence of him wagging his tail, whenever I came down the stairs, was a void that took a few days to fill. Time went by; we made new friends and learned new sports and somehow filled that void.  Still I remember that sultry evening, when Bimbo never came back. We had people looking for him all over the hill – calling his name till it got pitch dark and my mom assured me that he would be back in the morning.

In my teens, it was one hot May evening, as I returned home after watching a play with some friends, there was the unfamiliar “woo-woo” sound of the ambulance on our doorstep – and I saw my father being carried away in an unconscious state to the hospital. I still remember the moment in crystal clear detail– the time of the pronouncement of his death – my dramatic mother wailing – while at age eighteen, I knew that the my life had changed, forever.

In many ways, my life has been defined by that incidence, on that fateful day. As the “ground beneath me shifted”, I started to climb, without hesitation and didn’t know that I could stop, rest, breathe or dream any more. I didn’t know where I was headed – or why I was headed in that direction. I had to run away from my past and move towards an undefined future.

Even though, that may have been one of those most important days of my life, rarely do I spend that day, celebrating or commemorating. I don’t say a prayer on that day or light any candles. If anything, I try to forget that day ever happened.

A little more than two years ago, I had another unique tragedy that changed the lives of all my loved ones. I have written a series of essays around that time as I was experiencing that tragedy in suspended disbelief; The First Day of the Rest of My Life or The Day After the Tragedy,  Jumping Into a Meandering River, Decisions with “No Regrets”,  are all essays of that time with no instructions of how to move forward in life.

Time has passed by; I have moved forward and so has everyone.

This year, on that particular day, my seventeen year-old and I exchange simple texts, “Do you remember this day, two years ago;” She replies, “I was just thinking about it”. We don’t discuss any further.  The wounds are still open and it still hurts to have a discussion.

Grief and mourning are part of all our lives; even animals grieve tragedy. We must give grief its due. How we handle ourselves during and after the grief is what defines who we are or who we become.

Some exploit the grief to become “victims” – orphans of a tragedy. Others take that tragedy and make something out of it – learn from it, not let the scars completely change their world-view.

If you let tragedy change who you are, than you must not have been that person in the first place.

Sunrise at Pompano

Tomorrow morning, as the sun rises over the clear-blue, I wish to walk the beach – notice the fresh layer of sand beneath my feet, touch the salty water, and promise myself to live the best I can, for however many days are gifted to me.

While tragedy may engulf us any day, we must find the new sand to re-vitalize our own lives and promise to live the best we can. Nobody said we have to live the exact life we lived in the past. The future, however, can be momentous and full of joy – if that’s what we choose for it to be.

I will look forward to that day when this particular month or that particular date will not be a considered a “black” day/month and I will pass without commemoration or memory.

Time heals all wounds; I know, that day is coming.

Angel Passing By: Mirjam Wobmann: July 2012

Mirjam at her home

This week, one morning, I received a simple text from Wasima, “Mirjam is No More”. I stared at the text for a while, put the cell phone away and went about doing whatever I was doing; but I don’t remember what I was doing. I just wanted to not believe, in the news.

It’s easier not to acknowledge the news you don’t care for.

This morning, Daiyaan sent me a text at 12:30 am, “ I am looking at old pictures of Mirjam and literally sobbing”. On this cloudy, rainy Sunday, Daiyaan shows me a collage she has made of her memories of “Mirjam Nanu”; my heart stops beating for a second.

Mirjam and Daiyaan in Paros 2004

My teenager was sobbing last night thinking about all the people that she has met and how they have influenced her life. On the other hand, her 45 year old father just refuses to deal with it!

As if, if I don’t talk about it, it’s going to go away somehow.

With Mirjam at her beautiful sculptor garden 2007

The first time I met Mirjam, was ~ 14 years ago; I worked for a Swiss-Swedish conglomerate and had to go to Zurich for a meeting. I had heard so many stories about Mirjam, Peter and their wonderful family, that I had to meet her in person and complete this picture.

Wasima had spent quite a bit of time with them and ever since, had become a de-facto member of this family.

The first time Mirjam hugged me, I felt as if I have known her forever. All of her goodness seemed to seep into me with delight. I felt an instant connection.

Zain and Mirjam 2004 in Paros

Mirjam, in my opinion, is the epitome of a mother – caring, loving, yet nudging and firm. Strong willed, yet nurturing; always taking subtle details into account – what you like to eat – collecting small gifts or foods for you; always very much giving. Over these 14 or so years, I have met Mirjam maybe 5 or 6 times; in Zurich, Denver and also, at one of her favorite summer spots Paros – in the Greek Isles.

My favorite moments with Mirjam at their outdoor dining area in Stadel 2007

My most favorite moments with Mirjam were at her home in Stadel, where she was truly at her element; we would sit in front of the fireplace outside, and have breakfast or dinner and our conversation would flow like the meandering river – sociology, history, music, charity, friends or family. The beautiful garden, always lush and green (I only visited her in Summer) and the food always hearty and wholesome, the music always classical – the wine always splendid – and the joy of friendship, always fulfilling.

I remember falling asleep on a hammock outside of her Summer home in the Greek Isles; I remember the smell and taste of the olive oil in the salad she had tossed up that day; I remember how she took Daiyaan to swim in the cold waters of the azure sea, full of rocks below.

Mirjam gave me the joy of enjoying her wonderful concoction of Mueslix. On a nice summer morning, the wonderful Mueslix that she had soaked the night before – with fruits and nuts, is something I search for in European hotels.

When I was a little boy, an aunt taught me that, right around the time of sunrise or sunset, when you feel a mild breeze, you know that angels are passing by and kissing you with a breeze.

On many sunsets or sunrises, in different parts of the world, I have felt touched by a cool breeze. Every time, I have thought about how or what angels looks like. I wrote about this same feeling about a year ago, when Abdullah Chacha (uncle) left.

The last time I saw Mirjam, was in Zurich, one early morning, when she took us to the bus station. Greetings were exchanged and hugs were flowing. Little did we know that we would not meet again.

Maybe that’s what this life journey is meant to be; at meeting points, where we exchange feelings and emotions an then move away.

As we age, on sunrise and sunset, we get too busy, and don’t feel that breeze any more. Angels stop passing by us, or worse, stop kissing us on the forehead, when we really need a good wish.

In a few hours, when the rain stops in Fort Lauderdale, I will take a walk outside, around the time of sunset and see, if I can still feel that wonderful breeze that Mirjam touched my life with, for a very significant part of my adult “family” life.

I am not ready to give up on my angels, yet.