September 30, 2013
This is an open letter to ESS. Feel free to continue reading. However, should you opt to continue, you are sure to come away with more questions than answers.
Meeting you was fate, becoming your friend was a choice, but falling in love with you was beyond my control. I would have loved you no matter what. I hope you will read this some day soon; some day very soon.
I no longer feel the need to shield you from publicity. So many things in our relationship, I kept to myself. Some, because revealing them would hurt me, and some because the information would hurt you, and that, I could not bear. However, it is now time to clear the air, so to speak.
From the bottom of my heart, ESS, I am sorry that you are sick. I know what a painful death this will be. I know this because my daughter died from the same disease. Wow, some coincidence, right? At least I know why you kept it from me for so long. It must have been quite a shock to you when I told you how my daughter passed away. And I revealed that to you in the first day or two you became my tutor. How you must have tortured yourself, not wanting to believe you were sick and knowing that you would eventually have to tell me.
You have felt that you were sick for sometime now. You have felt it ever since I met you. I remember the first time you came to “our” apartment in Ruwais. When you left, I walked you downstairs and to the parking lot. It was there that you revealed so much of yourself to me. I remember it as if it were yesterday.
You confided in me that you had loved a girl once when you were younger, you wanted to get married, but your mother said no. You said that up until 8 years ago, you were not a good son. You told me that you ran around with women and did other things that hurt your mother. By the time you were almost 30, you decided to turn your life around. I think you chose to go to Kuwait with your brother because you would be out from under the watchful eye of your mother. But you would never be too far from your mother’s influence.
It was then, early on in our friendship, that you revealed to me that you were married and your wife was pregnant. You said that your mother told you one day about a year ago that it was time for you to get married and that she had a girl for you. You went back home to Egypt, you were married, you and your wife became pregnant, and you came back to the UAE. If I remember correctly, you said you had only been with your wife for a total of about 6 weeks in the past year. You said you didn’t love her. I believe that. I can see how your culture creates marriages based on anything but love. And I understood this.
I may not be from your culture, but I know there are many reasons that people get married. From my experience, love is way down on that list. Sad, but true. And although I feel no guilt for falling in love with you, my heart goes out to your wife. Your wife, who is as young as the girls I had in the classes I taught there.
I know what 17 year old girls dream of and they do not dream of getting married to men who are twice their age. They also do not dream of living in a different country than their husband. And they certainly do not dream of their husbands falling in love with another woman. 17 year old girls in your culture do dream of getting married. However, they know that the love is not there when they are first married and they hope that someday it will be. Sadly, my heart hurts for your wife because I know that you will never love her the way you love me.
Your falling in love with me was inevitable. I write this with no conceit, whatsoever. You were raised to believe that men and women must be kept separate, always. To you, it was normal that there were never any groups of women together at the garden. To you, it was normal that there were no women, ever, watching the men play soccer at night. And never would you see a group of married women, just sitting around, drinking coffee and chatting at a local restaurant.
Men and women never mix socially. So, of course, our being together was tantalizing. But no, not really. Although you were raised in a culture that seemed to suppress feelings of love between a man and a woman, you came about it so naturally. The love you had for me simply overflowed in your heart. As did mine for you. For both of us, it was the most natural thing in the world to be by each other’s side. We were so together in everything we did and everything we were. We were both larger than life, but not really. We both stood out in a crowd, but we tried so hard to blend. We both laughed out loud when we heard something funny, yet tried to stifle our laughter when people would stop and point. We almost always followed the rules, but knew that there were no rules for who you fall in love with. We both followed our religion and our beliefs, but we accepted that we fell short at times, and had to ask for forgiveness.
So, we fell in love. And had I not lived in the Middle East, I would have never understood, much less accepted our relationship. When you explained to me that your religion allows you to marry up to four wives, I accepted that. I accepted it as if I had known it all my life. So our wanting to get married was the natural course of our relationship, at least I thought so. But you knew differently.
I respect and I accept the role your mother plays in your life. But as you are so fond of saying, “We are from different cultures.” So no, I do not understand. I will never understand how a mother can put her own happiness above that of her child’s. You know how very much I love my children, yet, they are all spread out across the globe, across the continents. This can make me sad at times. However, knowing that they are happy will keep me happy for the rest of my life. I would be miserable one hundred times over before I let my children see one day of sorrow.
And that, ESS, is how I feel about you. As much as it hurts, as much as it tortures me, I must let you go. No regrets, no guilt, no hard feelings. You told me you had a choice, come to me and hurt your mother or go to your family and hurt me. You explained, “It is whatever. Either way I go to hell. If I go to you, I die with my mom mad at me and I will go to hell. If I go to my family, I die with you mad at me and I still go to hell.” Well, that is too much for me to bear.
I forgive you, ESS. I love you and I forgive you. I know that you could live the rest of your life with me and never see your family again. But deep in your soul, you would be tortured. Your mother’s displeasure with that decision would haunt you for the rest of your short life. And although you will hurt without me, you will be able to rest in peace because you will know that you have my forgiveness, you have my blessing.
I just want you to be happy, and if that’s not with me that’s fine. Besides my children, you are the only person I’ve ever loved enough to put before myself. Seeing you happy, makes me happy, and that’s what love is, right? But I’ve come to discover that being happy is a luxury that we cannot always afford. Being at peace, being forgiven, these are priceless and these I give to you.I want so much to be by your side and hold your hand and stroke your brow. I want to hug you and comfort you, just as I did my own child. I want to wish away the pain and watch you rest in comfort. I want to love you today and on the day you take your last breath. I want you to be at peace, now and for all eternity. I want to never forget how deeply and passionately I loved you and you loved me.
I want you to always remember that I loved you to the moon and back. And I will always remember that you loved me more than more. Good night my sweet Egyptian Prince. Love, your beautiful Queen.