So I raced to my email yesterday and then again early this morning hoping to find one last message from you dear brother, at least from this world. You know, the one that said it was going to be all right. That shit happens. That you just had to leave. To move on. That the door was closing-faster than you thought. That your time was now. That you were ready for the journey, not afraid of it. That you were eternity bound.
I stared and stared and stared at the screen but it just wasn’t there. It seems very much like the way of life. To find love and lose it. To grow comfortable with its reach and then to find it stretch just far enough beyond your touch that it slips away. It’s just so short, so fast- too fast. And tears never repair the pain, they just allow you to yell out with less silence.
Over these final months ours was a steady flow of letters and, when you could no longer write, emails till the very end. You honored me. You gave me the courage and strength and heart to go on in so many ways. You were my hero and will always be my inspiration- the face behind the voice of humanity. Some things just don’t change. Even with illness and time slipping away, the great remain so, as they race to give more and more to others. It’s nature’s way of smiling, of gifting the wisdom and courage of those few who stare out into the darkness with no fear for themselves, only concern for those they love and who love them back. In the midst of your great pain you found a way to make me and so many others, near and far, smile. It’s all about giving, Said, and you were the grand master from whom we learned much about dignity and grace and life- even as your own ran down.
I remember in one of our last chats, I was very down. With your gift to look beyond mere words and to touch the author, you sensed it, and soon brought a smile to my face. Few have it, fewer appreciate it, even less understand it. Its a blessing, one that only the truly blessed have. You did. While many have chased power and self-interest, to you, this journey has always been but a precious loan of life, just a speck in eternity’s travel, a brief moment to make a difference- a rare grant of beauty and love unconnected to anything else but your own heart. To the very end, your’s was the heart large enough to beat for the millions who face each day with fear and uncertainty. How many times did I hear you say it’s for them that we breathe.
Last night I looked through what is now to me a shrine of your final letters. Expecting to sob all the while, I soon found myself laughing with the subtle way within each that you “suggested” I slow down, to breathe in and out before racing on. I’m sure you got a kick out of being the passing voice of reason telling the roar to tread ever so lightly- I did. Your message that you hoped that your beloved son Ramez, in whom you’ve had such enormous pride, and I would meet some day so that “he might influence me to be less angry, lol, made my night.
Though wracked with pain, you never failed to remind us that this journey of ours was not one of promise or entitlement but the pursuit of justice and love- love for people and principles and moments of peace. How many times did you say that we have to find this thing called decency and grab it, hold it close to our souls and rejoice in it- that nothing else mattered. Faith, you said, was blind, just so much hope and little more, and all too fleeting. To you, the journey was all about love- love for family and friends, the world’s creatures, our collective hopes and dreams, in all their splendor. To you the “impossible” is just so much a test of our commitment to one another. On that test none have ever scored higher than you.
Although yours was a voice that weighed in on the great debates of our time, you cared no less about the little things, the small steps that can elevate a leap of faith to real time legend. You were that and so much more Said. One minute you would roar out about injustice and suffering in Palestine and take to the barricades, the next race home in the quiet moment of your beauty to massage the belly of your beloved Simba until, with paws reaching sky high, he fell asleep- always of course rubbing up against you. I will never forget our final walks down memory lane together, the very path that you and your life-long love Ariane had taken long before. A candlelight dinner, a glass of wine, a moonlight glance, warm words exchanged- for you, these moments remained the essence of your life together with a glow that carried you to its very end. When you told me that your love for Ariane was one for the ages, I finally understood what heaven on earth could be. How right you were. Hers were the shoulders upon which your sun rose and set from the first day you met, until your final moonlit night among us.
Right now part of me hurts so bad and the other just wants to surrender. They both want to find a dark and soft place and just lie down and cry until I have run out of tears, with my eyes aching and my heart broken. Not to worry, brother, I won’t. ‘Til the very end you reminded me by word and deed that each of us must go on despite our pain with our commitment to justice until our own final smile- that others in need are waiting. It’s what you did your entire journey and will do forever more as eternity opens her warm embrace to you.
Said, only now have I come to grips with the fact that you’ve moved on. Until my own last breathe, I will not forget that you and I shared your final journey together, closer than brothers born of the same mother. Your passing cannot be measured in mere words or tears. None can describe your beauty, and our loss is beyond the sadness that is the sob of our eyes. I cannot believe that our time together is done- I promise, it’s not. Not long before you passed, in what was to be your final message to me, your wrote with the beauty that was yours:
” We live, we fight, we love, but we never die. Because we live on through the hearts of those we loved and who loved us back.”
I love you.
Up the Rebels.