Friday, 14 March 2014

A Dedication

This post will be a short one (yeah right! When have any of my posts ever been short???), because I want to commemorate my mother, who died three years ago today. I know that people all over the world lose their loved ones every day. In this sense, my case is not unique. Instead, I want to share with you just a bit about who she was.

I feel like she was the person who everyone gravitated towards because she was hilarious (a true kid at heart), generous, and was known for her candor (which was actually a repellent for many). She had a love for life that I've rarely seen and she loved others wholeheartedly, without reservation-even when those she loved hurt her terribly. Her ability to forgive was astounding.

My mother was meant to be a mother. She parented my sister and I in a way that I'll always be thankful for: strict, unconventional and dedicated to raising her children well (I'm not boasting that I'm fantastic, merely that the energy she put into raising my sister and I was a reflection of her desire to be a good mother and to raise good children).

She never wanted to stop learning and because of that she was also a fantastic teacher and caregiver. She raised her three younger siblings while both of her parents worked full-time. While this would likely turn anyone off of becoming a parent, it only encouraged her to have kids. For all of her strictness, she encouraged getting our hands dirty and getting into a bit of trouble (and we did). She didn't believe in perfection, but rather fostered the idea of honesty and communication. For this reason my mother, father and sister became my best friends (I know it's odd).

Every morning I would wake up, make my coffee and sit at the foot of my parent's bed (they were always awake), and we'd chat about what we'd done the night before, our plans for the day, the news, work, school, relationships/friendships, where we heading in life and where we wanted to go. This was where I got the best advice and where I opened up about things that most people would never discuss with their parents. It was where I learned. Never one to want to miss out on anything, my sister would eventually hop on the bed (that's an exaggeration. She's not a morning person, so it was more like she'd crash), and join the conversation. We'd sit for long enough for it to become a safe space.

When my mother died (on my ex-fiancĂ©'s birthday), I didn't just lose my mother; I lost my best friend. No one in the world was as close to me as she was. Even to this day, I cannot name one person who comes close to what she meant to me (what's worse is that I know my sister and father feel the same way as I do). As a child my greatest fear was that I'd lose my parents. At the age of 29, my whole world was shattered, and I contributed to the cause of that destruction. My mother suffered physical trauma that resulted in cardiac arrest; her heart stopped for ten minutes. Although medical staff resuscitated her it was discovered that she had no brain activity. As a family (of three), we were forced to make the most horrific decision a person will ever be faced with: keep her on life support, or take her off of it.

At the time, it was almost one hundred percent certain that she wouldn't physically recover. Nevertheless, I feel fully responsible for her death and the guilt never dissipates. What really bothers me is that I know life can't go back to the way it was before I lost her and life hardly seems worth living without her. No, I'm not suicidal. I just feel the loss so acutely that it consumes me. Now I'm whining-sorry.

My mother was a wonderful woman who had her faults, but she openly admitted them and tried to be a better person, make the world a better place and took care of her family giving all the love she could give; I was blessed to have that love for 29 wonderful, formative and unforgettable years! I'll always be thankful for that :) 
My high school graduation

At a family friends' wedding

...And then there were three.

Sunday, 2 March 2014

Social Butterfly

Kuwaiti Liberation day and National day aka a glorious five-day holiday of doing not-a-thing were, I thought, going to be dull and were anything but! National day is celebrated to commemorate the formation of Kuwait as a country in 1961 (or so I’m told). Liberation day is a holiday signifying the liberation of Kuwait from Iraq in 1991 (the Gulf War/Desert Storm). The more I learn about the events prior to and leading up to the Gulf War, the more I realize how much the Canadian news broadcasting slanted the events so that we ended up believing lies. We don’t need to go there though.

The six days I was off (I took an extra day off today, Sunday) flew by! My mother used to call me a social butterfly, which I always denied, but looking back at the past six days I understand now why she said that. During the holiday there was a lot of coffee-drinking and food-eating, of course! I spent half a day meeting the Georgian lady’s elder sister and cousin and it was so nice to meet educated, well-spoken women who are beautiful inside and out. We had breakfast at Paul in Al Koot. Of course we couldn’t pass up espresso and ice cream, so we treated ourselves to that as well. It was not unlike many other breakfasts I’ve had with the Georgian lady, but the group was larger AND I saw a camel for the first time!!! It was incredible! Unfortunately, when I got up close (but not personal), it was making sad sounds (which my Egyptian friend has explained is a sound camels make just because). It looked depressed as people put their children in the saddle and took tons of pictures. I kept my distance, not out of fear, but out of the desire to allow it some breathing space. I felt horrible that it should be stuck tied up to a tent, out in the sun with tons of kids and people invading the animal’s space. I felt awe seeing such a magnificent animal. Seeing the camel made me want to get a pet. I won't, but if anyone needs a pet sitter, I'm available!

 The Georgian Lady and I
 A camel!!!
He had a whole box of greens close by in case he was hungry.

I also met with my former co-worker who just recently stopped working for my current company. This dismissal has political and racial roots that I will not get into or I will just work myself up. We went for coffee and chatted openly about work, the history and current state of the Middle East and Egypt (he’s Egyptian), and working so far from our families. He is a true gentleman and will be missed. He wanted to take the Irish chef and I out for koshari (he knows how much I love it), and so we ended up at a little koshari restaurant in Hawally (I'm sorry-I don't know the name of the joint!) and it was…Phenomenal! I LOVE koshari. I wish someone would move to little ol’ London, Ontario and open up a koshari shop! It would be a HIT with all the drunken UWO and Fanshawe students after a night of bar-hopping, and would be a welcome change from the traditional options: Sammy Souvlaki (AMAZING poutine, folks!), the Shwarma restaurant (LOVE fries with hummus and garlic dipping sauce. WARNING: do NOT eat garlic sauce if you plan on kissing anyone; it's delicious, but potent!)  and T.J. Baxters (booooring food alert here!) on Richmond Row! Just sayin’, y’all!

 We ordered and not even two minutes later we were served!
 Before the hot sauce and vinegar. Ohhh, LOOK at all the fried onions! They're to DIE for!!!
I couldn't finish it all, but considering the size, I think I made a sizeable dent! The small empty bowl behind mine is a second portion you can get if the first, larger bowl isn't enough ;)  
 My co-worker caught me mid-bite, hahaha! This place was no five-star restaurant, but at 750 fils for a (big) bowl of MAJOR deliciousness (and 250fils for the small second serving), as long as it's clean, I don't care what the decor looks like. Cheers to AMAZING food and company WITHOUT the snobbery and inflated food costs!

I met with the Irish lady (the same one we had the small baby shower for) and her husband. They had their baby just over two weeks ago. The Irish lady the Irish journalist welcomed a new daughter to their family. Their son, who is 21 months old, is still adjusting to having a new baby sister. He clearly wants to play with her and his impatience is sweet. The Irish chef and I grabbed some food so as not to show up empty-handed. We met the journalist's parents who are awesome! We stayed there for hours and hours chatting and catching-up. I love every minute I spend with this family. I will sincerely miss them and their company. The new baby is adorable with strawberry blonde hair and a pleasant demeanor. I didn't want to be intrusive and start snapping photos, so I apologize for not being able to show you how cute she really is, but it's not my place. I hope that this isn't the last time we see this family. I'm hoping that people will take up my offer for them to stay at my home if they visit Canada because it would be a shame if this is the last time I see these incredible people.

I may not have made many friends here, but the friends who I'm blessed to have in my life here are the kind of people you want to have in your life forever: brilliant, kind, funny, relaxed...They're the people who make influence you in such a way that you want to be a better person because of them...I'm not able to enunciate what I mean, but I mean that by knowing them I am a better person and I will continue to try and be a better person because of them. I may have let some friends go (in Canada and in Kuwait), but it's very clear that I my ability to judge the quality of people has improved. Many sincere thanks to the Georgian lady (and her sister and cousin), the Greek lady and her husband (who make me laugh and who I hope will one day move to Canada!), the Irish lady and her husband (I don't think I've ever met people who have inspired me to love life no matter how crappy it is and to keep on smiling), my co-workers who have shown endless support and helped me develop professionally (one of the BEST groups of people I've ever worked with), my students who I cannot even begin to list because, let's face it, it has to do with privacy issues; I know I've lucked out. I have amazing students here and I hope that they all continue to learn English because they're GOOD and I mean it. Lastly, I cannot forget our neighbours who always invited me over on a holiday so I wan't alone. They're very thoughtful and giving. If I've forgotten someone, I'll mention them in my next post. Until then, stay cool because it's warming up here! Wooohooo!!!