Shoulders Must Remain Strong

Photo by Naaman Omar apaimages – CC BY-SA 3.0

In Palestinian culture, we are raised on the proverb ‘my shoulders are your subsistence and supply; my tears are your water.’ The best English translation would be ‘lean on me when you’re not strong.’

Having practiced this proverb my whole life, I have come to the conclusion that giving is a greater feeling than receiving. I have always given materially and with an open heart; I have demonstrated love, smiles, and welcoming words and acts. Over the years, this method has been successful; I have been able to outlive my pain and sorrow and affirm my belief that giving is greater, much greater than receiving.

Today, with every breath, I have to deal with the fact that my heart is injured, severely injured, and the possibility that I may no longer be able to give is getting closer and closer. The smell of death lingers and sticks to my clothes. I cannot avoid it.

Before death comes for me, I need to make sure my children’s shoulders are strong enough to carry more than just subsistence; they have to carry more than is possible. I need to make sure that they can give and not wait to get back.

I will leave suddenly, and some will remain on my shoulders until the moment I fall apart, and only then will they notice that I am gone and not returning. For those who wish to pour out their stress, anger, frustration, and pain, for those who simply enjoyed talking, please give them all the address of my grave. Tell them I will be listening and crying for their pain. I simply cannot give them a hug.

Until then, I am making my shoulders stronger and wider.

Just don’t look towards my heart.