You know when you hear bad news and you immediately get that sinking feeling in your stomach? You feel an emptiness that can’t really be described. You feel a sorrow that can’t be quantified. Then you get together with your friends and you share that sorrow and then someone says something … and you laugh. You laugh but then you immediately feel a bit sick because you think, how can I laugh at a time like this?
When tragedies befall you, it makes me wonder, how do you recover? More importantly, perhaps, is the question of – is it ok to go on?
As much as we may like to just shut down and block off the world, most of us don’t have that luxury, and maybe it’s actually not that healthy of a (prolonged) reaction. We don’t live life in isolation, and perhaps the beauty of humanity is our ability to be resilient and compassionate.
When I woke up this morning I saw that we had surpassed our fundraising goal for Chris. What really moved me were the messages people were leaving and the generous donations left not only by his friends but also by strangers who had never met Chris or Gina. They were so affected by their story that they wanted to do something to help — and they did. This amount of human compassion and empathy is what gives me hope.
On Friday June 26th the first big piece of news I saw me was actually the bombing in Kuwait. I was born and raised in Kuwait, and in fact moved to London from Kuwait just 14 months ago. It was the country I called home for over 2 decades. To see something so frightening happen took me straight back to nightmares of the 1990 Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, another event that greatly affected me and my family. It was shocking that a country where people generally felt safe was shook by terror. After moving to London, I read many news articles on how things were changing in Kuwait. How there seemed to be an increased tightening of laws and punishment particularly for expatriates in Kuwait. Stories of deportation and mistreatment on many different levels were so upsetting to read, and I, having experienced discrimination in Kuwait personally, couldn’t help but think that I left the country at the right time. At the same time, my heart ached for this country in which I always saw so much potential, the country that despite its flaws had so much to offer, the country that offered me some of the best years of my life and that I loved. It saddened me to read about the tragic events of that Friday. However, once again, as the clouds of sorrow, fear, and anger lifted, what I saw was a rise in compassion. One of the victims of the attack, Salah Ali Mohammad, at the end of this video says, “I’m happy that what happened make the Kuwaitis together again more. I see love. I see love in Kuwaiti eyes.” People of all backgrounds were coming together to mourn the senseless loss of the people killed in the bombing. People of all backgrounds came together to comfort one another. People of all backgrounds started to (finally) realize that in the end we were all people. I imagine it to be somewhat similar to the feeling we had when returning to Kuwait after the 1991 liberation. We had all been through an ordeal that affected us deeply, and we all came together to help each other heal.
I hate the fact that it took such terrible tragedies to spark this rise in humanity and compassion for each other, but it happened and we have come together … and now that we’ve come together, let us not forget.
While it is so easy to get caught up in the anger and hate towards those monsters who were behind these attacks, I find comfort in the fact that so many people have reached out to one another. From personal phone calls, emails, and messages to Facebook comments, to general connections with strangers via social media sites. I find this type of unity very, very powerful. Although I do feel an intense amount of anger over what happened, I do not want that type of feeling to to occupy space in my heart. I want to do something that translates that fury into something positive. I want to remind myself that even among horrors and tragedies, there is still a lot we can achieve. I want to remind myself to continue to hope.
We don’t know what will happen in the future, but we do know about right now. We know that we can tell our family members and friends that we love them and care about them. We can make sure that we focus on doing the things that make us happy. We can be charitable – whether it’s by donating time, money, items, or even thoughts/prayers/well wishes. We can focus on the positives instead of the negatives.
On Wednesday, the first day back on the mats without Chris, I was there helping teach the kids Bullyproof class. One of the 6 years olds in the class came up to me and asked me to help her tie her hair. I put her hair up in a little pony tail and she threw her arms around my neck and gave me such a huge hug and exclaimed, ‘Thank you! You’re amazing!’
I tied a little girls hair back and she was so thankful. How wonderful is it that even small gestures like that can make someone else feel happy? In her eyes, I did her an amazing favor. What she doesn’t realize is that her hug was an amazing favor to me. It gave me hope. It gave me hope amidst the heartache.