*walk walk walk* *omg the podium is so high up* This is a poem I wrote titled “A brother I never knew” *friend looks at me in the audience* “what??” *laughter* I actually have friends in the audience..um yeah.. as shocking as that is. *MORE LAUGHTER* “A brother I never knew.” I knew Ahmed had a brother. I didn’t know it would end like this. Saturday, February 27th.
6:39 pm. That’s the exact moment I found out about the passing of my friend’s brother. He passed away in California. Umar Syed passed away late February of 2016. He was a brother, a son, a cousin, a friend, a student, and a source of joy to all he knew. Little did I know that the death of someone I didn’t personally know would affect me in ways that I couldn’t even fathom. Monday, February 29th.
5:04 pm. I purposely waited for the storm in Ahmed’s heart to ‘settle down’ before talking to him. Waited for the clouds to fade. Praying for the deluge to become less hostile. Waded in the possibility that maybe, just maybe, his mind isn’t clouded by the extinguished flames that the cascade of his tears put out. Seems like a lot going in the mind of a 17 year old who just got dropped off at her bus stop. I couldn’t stop thinking about it. Still, the 29th of February. Leap day of 2016 was surely memorable, but not in a good way. 6:15 pm I’m always here for you.
No response. Finally, 9:12 pm evoked a response. He said: I really appreciate it. I’m coping a lot better now, I really feel like he’s at peace. I’m always going to have regrets but I think for now I can function. “Knowing that his heart was healing somehow put my own at ease. Now, what I told him and what I wanted to say are two very different things. I told him I’d be there for him.
That he wasn’t alone. That the pain would pass. That he’d make it out of his seemingly perpetual misery and heartache. I wanted to say… I know there’s nothing I can do or say in this moment that will lessen that ache in your chest or ease that longing in your heart, that longing that stretches out to lengths of every single word you’ve ever exchanged. When everything seems dark and desolate, I understand that all you want to do is scream into the horizon, piercing the air that will NEVER taste the same without him breathing it again. I for one can only pray with tears in my eyes that you can see the light at the end of the tunnel, and one day bask in the glorious light of a better tomorrow. From every breath of air Umar’s lungs inhaled on this earth, To that very moment his mother cried after giving birth. Every pounding heartbeat and rush of blood to the head, I want you close your eyes and tell yourself this instead. I want you to remember. I want you to remember the way the sun reflected off of his eyes when he looked down at you Those beautiful brown eyes that will never be there to see your own staring straight back at them. I want you to remember every tear,
Every smile. Keeping those memories in your heart will ease the pain of his depart. Friday, April 15th. *time check* 3:15 pm If there’s one thing I can tell ALL of you today, be you a senior, a freshman, a sophomore, an administrator, a teacher, It’s to LOVE. Love your mother because I know there’s a mother out there this very moment whose heart is shattered over the fact that she will never get to feel the heartbeat and warmth of the boy she has loved unconditionally for twenty-two years. Love your father because there’s a dad out there whose son wasn’t even finished with his education but then had the book of life SHUT on him when it seemed like his “golden years” had just began. Love your sister. Tell her she looks beautiful and give her a hug without reason because there is a girl in this very moment who will only feel the presence of one of her brothers through videos and photographs, desperately trying to breathe in whatever is left of a sibling gone too soon. Love your brother because there is a boy named Ahmed who has blessed me with his friendship over this past year. A boy named Ahmed who is a junior in high school A boy named Ahmed who doesn’t have an older brother to look up to anymore. A boy who has the same eyes and the same heart and the same personality of someone who is six feet under the ground. A boy so bruised and so broken by the absence of his older brother that he had to become his own hero. Time is fleeting. Be it dancing within the air we breathe or constricting our lungs like a tightly woven corset of memories which forces our lungs to give out, It is never promised. I’m standing here with a gleam in my eyes, Reminding you to love who you love before their demise. You think about time and say “Man, it flew!” Ladies and gentlemen, that was the story of the brother I never knew. Thank you. *APPLAUSE*