An Attempt to Process #3

The End

I apologize before you start reading. This will be the longest most detailed entry of all three. See, the first two parts of this experience, I was only telling you events that I mostly learned through my siblings. We were in a WhatsApp group that was only dedicated to reporting my dad’s health. So, I wasn’t there for him most of the time. But for this entry, I was thankfully there until the end.  

So far, my father was able to walk around, pray standing, and go out, except for those times he felt weak. Gradually, my dad was getting weaker. By the end of 2019, he was stationed between the bed in the living room, and his bed in the bedroom, he was no longer able to sit or stand like the rest of us. Occasionally, he would join the family over meals around the table. Let me remind you that he acted tougher than he was actually feeling. Rapidly, his appetite declined, so he rapidly lost weight. 

During the first week of January 2020, which was the last time I saw my father on a video call, he seemed smaller. He was standing in the kitchen when they handed him the phone. He was wearing many layers, he seemed cold. The phone call didn’t last more than a couple of minutes. He looked a bit weaker than his normal self, but I was already informed that he was not feeling well since my grandmother passed away. His mental state manifested in physical deterioration. Days passed. I learned about bringing a hospital bed because he was now finding it difficult to get up.  Excuse me if my timeline is a bit off, but at some point in January the bed in the living room collapsed. Now, he was spending most of his time in the bedroom. He was seeing less people. As I learned later on, he requested to limit his visitors to his siblings only. He was losing the battle and he knew it. He accepted it. His only wish was to see me and my sister, who studies in the UK, for one last time. But he had always prayed to bring us all together once again in Paradise. 

On Sunday January 18, mom called when I was with my friends at an Irish lounge in Oakland. We were there for the live Irish music night. I picked up the phone and took it outside. I remember walking around the corner, talking to her for 10 minutes. Then she just hung up! I didn’t ask to speak to dad, she didn’t hand the phone to him. It felt weird! It was about time since it had been almost 3 weeks now since the last time I spoke to him. I brushed it off thinking he might’ve been sleeping or praying. 

I didn’t give that much thought until the Tuesday after. Ruba sent a message on our whatsApp group asking if dad was okay. She just finished a call with him and can’t figure out if his shaking voice was due to illness or crying. Then she asked Dina if she should change her flight booking to the earliest Saturday. I added my concerns about them downplaying the situation. I expressed how I found it weird that mom didn’t hand the phone to dad last Sunday. Dina’s reply was that of a YES! They were downplaying and ignoring the situation. It didn’t exist that way! So we both asked her to book us flights on the earliest Saturday. Mine was a one-way ticket!

It was the most stressful week of my life. It was not fun to rush packing, not knowing exactly how long I would be there in Saudi, pausing my life here in San Francisco. I informed my workplace. I told them I was going indefinitely. I said my quick goodbyes. They reassured me that I would still have a job whenever I decided to come back. It was a reassurance I needed in a time of uncertainty. Well, I was certain my father was dying, I just didn’t know when!

I had never comprehended how scrawny my father had become until I saw him for the first time in six months. Six months had passed since I said goodbye and promised to come back. I will never forgive myself for breaking that promise, for losing my green card, but no child ever realises that they might lose a parent. Ever. 

Earlier in October, when my father was yet again hospitalized, Dina called me asking if I had a minute to talk. She wanted to brief me on a family meeting they had with dad’s oncologist. Ruba, who was there at the time, wanted to understand more. Ahmad wanted everything explained to him from scratch. He actually demanded that the doctor treats him as a dumb 10 year old who knew nothing. See, the medical staff at the hospital always assumed that we knew what was up. We had access to his medical records 24/7, but to think that we were oncologists too? That was not very professional from their side. Even my father was frustrated with the fact that no one was telling him what was up! Learning about dad’s illness, and talking to him about it are completely two different things. The latter is the medical staff’s job! We were not supposed to explain to my father what was going on. A family should never tell their dying loved one that he was dying, and only had a year at best! That was the gest of Dina’s phone call. My father had a year at best since the time he was admitted in June, which meant at best, he had until June of 2020! I wanted so bad to go back home, I wanted to be with dad. I regret the fact that I didn’t. I really do. 

When I landed Saudi Arabia and went straight home, I saw my father lying in bed, barely speaking. He smiled, I hugged and kissed him. I cried. I cried because I realised he was rapidly deteriorating. But I had to hide my cries. He didn’t want anyone to cry in front of him. He asked us to smile and laugh around him. I could imagine how hard it was when he realised he was dying, and then his loved ones were crying around him. He was already terrified, he didn’t need a constant reminder that he was leaving us behind.

My father’s feet were swollen from the built up fluids. It was a result of liver failure. I saw his body was skin on bones. I saw him fragile, sleeping all day and night, in constant need for foot massage, needing mom’s help to go to and from the bathroom.

Let me tell you about mom. She was a true champ through all of this. She’d stuck by my father day and night. She tolerated his aggression, which was a result of deterioration. She, although suffering from neck, back and arm pain, helped get him up and lay him down. She fed him when he started to become too weak to lift things up. She massaged his feet to relieve the pain caused by the fluids. She stayed with him day and night. She wasn’t worried about how that would affect her health or her herniated neck disc. She stuck and refused to rest, even when he was finally hospitalized on his deathbed. She slept over, spent all night with him every night for 20 nights, from 9:00 PM to 10:00 AM. And just so you know, the room he was hospitalized in was in the ER. He never got admitted to the oncology suite. 

Two days after we arrived, when my mom asked me to feed dad some soup for the first time, he started aspirating. It felt like food went down the wrong tube. I panicked, and I called mom. He couldn’t stop coughing. He was too weak to cough strongly. So we figured maybe we should raise the back of the bed higher when we feed him. I remember later on he asked for tea and insisted on hold the mug himself. I remember my heart was aching seeing him struggling to drink it. He loved tea, and his tea time and cup were precious rituals. Later on, he started shaking in pain. He asked for oral morphine. Then calmed down.

We asked a doctor-friend to come over to check on my dad’s liver function. He is a specialist in liver disease. Ruba wanted an expert opinion on dad’s toxins level and how to get rid of them. Those toxins that his liver wasn’t able to process got trapped in the body and bloodstream causing him fogginess and confusion. We wanted to know if there would be any chance to get him on a drainage catheter through the liver. We wanted to know if my dad’s laxatives were working, or if we had to change them to a stronger one. The doctor who visited told us that we might be looking at a drainage, but first we need to put him on a stronger dose of laxatives, and to wait for two days to see how he would  react to them. If that hadn’t worked, we would be looking at a catheter. The sad part was never getting to know if the stronger dosage worked. 

The day after, dad suffered from sudden shakes with aspiration. We thought he was dying. Everybody was around him crying. I remember my aunt coming over to visit. I remember my nieces and nephew playing around. I was standing by the exit door to the staircase. Ruba came out of the room asking if we should call an ambulance. We all were not sure if we should. Well, he never wanted to go to the hospital in the first place. He wanted to die in the house. So we were trying to decide respectfully. We didn’t know if it was an actual pulmonary problem, or just food going down his windpipe. I finally assertively said I would call the emergency line and get an ambulance, and if there was nothing, woopdidoo! We inconvenienced them! Ruba asked me if I wanted to come into the room and say goodbye to him, I collapsed saying “I can’t” repeatedly. It was silently chaotic! I called on Dina and asked her to go to dad’s room and check on him or say goodbye. 

The paramedics finally arrived. They concluded he had to be transferred to the ER. They were sure it was something in his lungs and that he needed help. They struggled to move him down the staircase into the ambulance. They didn’t want to use their stretcher for some reason. So they moved him in his wheelchair. I saw my father being carried in his wheelchair helplessly dragged throughout the house. It was depressing. Ahmad and my uncle accompanied him. Later on, Ahmad said once they attached the oxygen tube, he started to calm down and breathe normally. He was exhausted. 

My sister, mom and I rode after them to the hospital. They apparently drew blood and x rayed his chest. The initial diagnosis was infection in the lungs. So they started IV fluids, painkillers and oral antibiotics. His oncologist was informed that night of his admission to the ER. ER rooms are tiny rooms that barely fit the patient’s bed and 2 people. There’s a single cramped chair on the side. Only one was supposed to accompany the patient, and sleepover. At 10:00 PM the guards would kick everyone out. So my mom stayed. We tried to convince her that one of us, the six offsprings, would take her place so she could rest. She refused. It was a constant offer that she said “no” to every single time. She said she would feel guilty and wouldn’t be able to sleep knowing she had left him all night long. 

Day 1 passed. Day 2 did too. It was already the weekend so we couldn’t dare ask for discharge! He really wanted to go home. He knew he was dying, and we kept telling him “not today”. The following week we were informed that he was on an IV antibiotics course that would take 7 days to complete. It was frustrating how the communication between us, the ER doctors, the nurses, the patient relations department and the oncology department was broken at all levels! It was sad how we had to ask for things repeatedly before we got them, how it took hours to get an answer. We understood they were busy with other patients, that we weren’t the only ones they were serving. But when you have a dying father, you’re selfish. You don’t see beyond the reach of your nose. You don’t want to realize that you’re not special! That your dad wasn’t special to these people. That the medical staff had many other “special” ones they were attending to. The frustration of having to tell my father that “no, not today” every time he asked to be discharged was hurtful. He got more depressed, he talked even less. He barely ate or drank anything. It was almost like force feeding him so that he kept what was left of his strength. He needed to eat to be discharged. 

Our arrangement of staying with my father was to have someone stationed at all times. That designated one reported everything on the WhatsApp group once it happened. Like all other cases in the world of a dying family member, tension happened, tiresome conversations, stressful arrangement had to take place. We had to remind one another it was normal to be the way we were, exhausted, and deeply sorrowful. I was assigned the morning shift. Mom was assigned the night shift. The rest of my sisters and brother were assigned intervals between 2PM to 9PM. My mother and I were the only two with no baby responsibility or work or school load. We all reported the same thing after each shift. It was daunting and tiring to see dad dying slowly. 

During the first week of his stay, my father was mostly conscious. Although I didn’t get to see him awake much. His days were nights and his nights were days. Apparently, that is a symptom in patients with liver failure. They don’t recognize time. He was always asking what time it was, or if it was time to pray. He would ask to pray many times. He would start a prayer and fall asleep right away. He would repeat his prayers and verses. We would help him lead the prayer. We would read the Quran for him constantly, or pray by his head, patting and massaging him. He would repeat whatever we pray. One time, he asked me to lead him through a prayer. I made sure he finished it, although it took triple the time. But 15 minutes later, he asked if he finished the prayer, and I repeated that yes he did, assuring him that I finished it with him saying “Don’t worry dad. Don’t worry”. He then said “I am worried about you”. My heart just sank! I said “Don’t be. Everything will be fine. I am fine. Don’t worry”. Then he dozed off to  unconsciousness. 

Towards the end of the second week, dad was in and out of a hepatic coma (the loss of brain function when a damaged liver doesn’t remove toxins from the blood). He was delusional and having many hallucinations. We had to witness my father desperate to go to the bathroom because he knew it was the only way he would rid himself of the toxins. He knew they were the reason he was hallucinating and paranoid. He would have attacks of paranoia. He would apologize after the attacks and say “They were the dream” It was hard on him that nurses, male or female, were changing him and turning him from side to side. He was so humiliated. I guess we can live with dignity but we can’t also ask to die with it. There’s no dignity in dying. I begged one day my family to just take him home, but my mom said “no”. He was on IV fluids and nutrition. He stopped eating and drinking water completely by this point. Plus, there was no force to help mom change my father. She physically couldn’t do it herself, and he would feel double humiliated if one of us, his offspring, did it. So the consensus was for him to stay in the hospital until he died. 

And he did.

On February 10, around 7:30 PM, my father  had an episode of hyperventilation. He started shaking and gasping for breath. It happened during Dina’s shift. I was already back at home, although before I left I felt that he wasn’t doing well, and that I shouldn’t have left. But to be in that room, room 69 was exhausting. Especially when everyday in the morning, I was the one who had to hear it from the doctors that there was nothing they could do. I answered their questions about how he was, and if there were any changes in his bowel movements, breathing, swelling body, sleeping pattern, his coma, and hallucination and pain. Change or no change, their answers never changed. They would always walk out saying we should be by his side, keep him comfortable and wait for God’s fate. 

Everybody was there. For the first time in two weeks, my aunts & uncles, mom and all my sister and brother were in one place. We took turns surrounding dad praying and crying quietly, watching him gasping clinging on every breath, watching his heartbeat and oxygen levels fluctuating on the monitor. The monitor beeps every two three seconds. I was begging him silently to just give up. It was torture for him and for us. He barely had energy to begin with. Mom desperately walked up to the nurse asking him for his opinion on how long it would take before he died. He had a sorry look on his face saying that dad was too weak. It was a long exhausting episode. It was 10 PM and we were asked by the hospital staff to leave, and only one person was allowed to stay with him. My mom stayed and everyone just fearfully left back home. 

The following days, my father was in excruciating pain all over his body. His breathing calmed but was getting shallower. His body looked as if he gained 10 kilos in two days! Fluids filled his body all over. He no longer went to the bathroom. He would have repeated episodes of cough and would be trying so hard to spit something out of his lungs. It would take forever. Dad was a dying battery. Its energy couldn’t function his body properly. He had a lung x-ray to see what was going on. The findings were “fluids are finally building up in his lungs and masses of metastasized cancer are seen all over”, I still remember vividly the doctor’s tone telling me that calmly. His body is finally giving up. Palliative care doctors bumped up his morphine dose to every two hours if needed. Their recommendation also was not to turn him from side to side anymore. He was dying faster than bedsores were forming. So our mission was to make him as comfortable and painless as possible. 

You know it’s the end when you discuss with your siblings the option to help your father die. The logic was if they couldn’t help him get better, then might as well help him worsen faster. I’ve never been for euthanasia, but now I understand why anyone would choose to end their suffering or the suffering of their loved ones. Many feelings rush through your head when you witness the prolonged death of a parent, anger among them is the worst. The frustration of being helpless rages inside you. But you still can’t do anything. So the plan was whenever dad makes the slightest noise to express ache, we ask for morphine. The following morning his palliative care doctor was wondering why dad was given 7 doses in one day. He actually had the audacity to say that it was not good for his kidneys and liver or lungs. This man was actually worried that my dad’s dead liver and almost dead lungs were to get worse? Now, how can you tell someone that that was the point! It was ironic. I didn’t know if I should laugh at his face or yell at him!

It was Tuesday, February 18, when I walked into room 69 and was ready for another day of anguish. I got the report from mom. She told me he never slept during the night. She said he was breathing shallowly the whole night. She said he called her and asked her to listen to him saying the Shahadah. She got ready to leave. But then she came back and told me that his shoulders, his collarbones and back were in pain, that I should massage him constantly along with his feet and arms. She showed me how to massage his back while he was lying on it. She told me his blood pressure reading was 77/37. 

My shift started at 9:30 AM. I started the massage routine. The silent was deafening. So I always turned the TV to the Makkah Channel, and listened to the Quran. I went by his head and prayed. Around 10:30 AM, his oncologist comes in with his team. The same routine questions were asked. I gave the responses my mom gave me. He looked at me and said “The next 24 to 48 hours are critical. Pray for him”. I reported that to my sisters and lied down on the semi chair / couch. Every couple of minutes I got up to massage dad. I was exhausted. It was 2:00 PM when I heard him whine quietly. I asked him if he wanted morphine, I got no comprehensive response. I called the nurse, and asked for the morphine, it was time anyway. The irony lied in the fact that I’ve always been away. I was never there for any of his cancer progression. I was the farthest, but now, I was the only one standing there pulling myself together with enormous steadiness. 

I stood by his left side. I repeated to him that it was okay, and held his hand waiting for the nurses to come back with the morphine. I raised my head up and glanced at the monitor, and I saw all the readings on it steadily going down. He was calm. He wasn’t shaking or struggling. His breathing was shallow, but he seemed calm. The nurses came back with the morphine. They looked at the monitor, they saw the readings were now flashing in red, and the monitor was beeping. They exchanged looks as if they were not sure about the morphine, but went ahead and shot it in. They brought a portable blood pressure meter, the reading was still at 77/37. The numbers on the monitor were still going down. I was still holding his hands and repeating the Shahadah. When I looked at him and he was not breathing anymore, I calmly walked out and informed the nurses in the station that I thought “It’s over”, my tears then started running down my face. At 2:25 PM the doctor confirmed my father’s death through his EKG readings. Everything that happened after that felt like “but a dream within a dream”. 

 

An Attempt to Process #2

The peak of the end

I was there for the last 10 days of Ramadan (June) 2019 and a month more. During the last days of Ramadan, my father’s urine was getting darker according to mom, but she thought it was due to his fasting and dehydration. So, they didn’t give it much thought. During the days of Eid, and while we were on our final preparation for my sister’s wedding, my mom noticed that dad was noticeably yellow. He was yellow enough for my mom to ask him to go to the ER. He waited for a long time, almost the whole night spent waiting for a room to be admitted. It was the night before my sister’s wedding. The hospital was nice enough to let him leave for the night, and reserve the room for him. 

Anyway, my father came back home to get ready for the wedding. We welcomed him home and were very concerned. But he celebrated the wedding all night long just fine. Do you know how weddings are supposed to be very happy occasions? I can’t fathom the worries my mom was suffering from during the wedding, how my bride sister was feeling during her photoshoot with my jaundiced father. Going back home after the wedding knowing he was going back to his hospital room was depressing as fuck! He spent over a month there, in which I had to go back to the States. I said goodbye, but I refused to believe it might be the last time I see him. I assured him I was going to come back in September to see him. I cried, he cried! He asked me not to forget praying. I was once again torn apart between going back to my everyday life, or just dumping everything and staying home by his side indefinitely. But that felt like waiting on him to give up, which was very disrespectful. 

My father was still holding his strength. His weight was still stable. They found out that the lymph node blocking the bile duct is getting bigger. He cared about his test results asking us to check them for him. He cared about the count of bilirubin in his blood. He desperately wanted out! They had to put a stent to bypass the dark amber substance that we kept seeing in a catheter bag. For some reason, the stent wasn’t working well. They kept taking him in and out of the procedure room, replacing it with a bigger one, or a different material or some other kind of problem. All situations needed a  “non-invasive” procedure that he was required to be put under some medication that made him drowsy and weak the whole day!

Over a month of dealing with fevers, and treating an infection after another,  and seeking a second medical opinion, he was finally “stable” enough to be discharged. He was still pale, yellow, and now depressed. The second opinion was a little bit hopeful. And maybe that was the reason we all kept high hopes. After all, no one wanted to believe that the man they looked at as Superman was dying! The second opinion suggested that we could transfer him to another hospital, replace the stent with a bigger one, and start him on medical therapy. The only condition was ridding him of jaundice. But that was never going to happen. It was as if my father spray-painted himself yellow permanently. 

Now we go back to my grandmother. Ironically, my father and she were getting worse over the condition of the other, or at least this was how the family observed it. She got sick, he got depressed, then he got sick, when she bounced back, she got depressed, she got sick, then he would bounce back … it was a vicious cycle of in-and-out of hospitals that continued and exhausted the whole family emotionally, if not physically. 

I couldn’t go back to Saudi Arabia to see him as I promised in September. I had lost my Green Card and was stuck in San Francisco. So I made a deal with my twin sister that whenever she sensed that things were going badly very rapidly, she needed to let me know so I’d have an excuse to risk my visa status and reentry to the States. I had multiple talks with David regarding our situation. I made clear that once I went back to Saudi Arabia, I might not be back for a very long time. Because when I went back, I would only go back when he was very weak, but I wouldn’t be able to predict his time of death. That September when I lost my green card, another frustration was added to the list. I had another reason to panic and be bitchy! The mental state I was in could only be described as distress. I talked to dad, he acted as if he was fine. I talked to my sisters, they told me he was feeling down and was getting worse.

Finally, when my grandmother finally gave up and passed away in November of 2019, my father seemed like he also had given up. He no longer had anything to live for. He gave up the fight. And right then and there, cancer started to win the battle. 

An Attempt to Process #1

The beginning of the end

I don’t know where to begin. I don’t know what to say, or what I am supposed to say. But I think I will start with “I cannot process my father’s death”, and I still have no time to do so. The idea of someone ceasing to exist is just bizarre! I remember very well how he laughed, talked, scolded, and joked around! Then one day all that stops existing is just incomprehensible! I know he deteriorated gradually. But I wasn’t there for it. It also doesn’t hit you when you were hopeful that things were going to get better, especially when he told you so, that no matter what happened, things always happened for the best. I want to share my experience because I have this constant need to just tell you over and over what exactly happened when I was there in that hospital room number 69 on the first floor!

My dad was diagnosed with invasive antral (gastric) cancer in the summer of 2017. It fell like a shock on us because we have no family history on both sides of any kind of cancer. My father was the first case in the extended family. He was later on scheduled for an operation to remove the tumors in August. I had to leave back to the States before his scheduled operation. It was really difficult to make that decision. But with a lot of support and readings on the internet, things looked a little bit brighter than they actually were. See, my mom told us that he was on Stage II, hiding the fact that he was actually on Stage III. To this day, I still don’t know what her reasoning was behind this misinformation! And whoever knows cancer or experienced it, knows that from stage II to stage III things are very different. When you’re hit with the reality of cancer, you start reading a lot of respectable and not very trustable sources and statistics. Generally in the stomach cancer cases, the rate of surviving the 5-year mark is very low. And from stage II to III the percentage plummets by %10! 

When he was in the operation room, they discovered once they opened his stomach that cancer had spread outside of the stomach to the near lymph nodes, a total of about 12 nodes were removed plus the margins. They discovered from the biopsies that he had two different types of cancers (adenocarcinoma and GIST), which according to his oncologist is very rare to have both at the same time. He then recovered well and took the time to be convinced to start chemotherapy. If you are familiar with stomach cancer, you know there isn’t one known treatment for it. It was a very invasive aggressive type of cancer that the oncologist had to decide which treatment was best. My dad was scheduled for 8 sessions over 8 months. He was given the “most gentle” kind of chemotherapy as the doctor described, due to his age, diabetes, and blood work results.

On his last two treatments, he took half a dose, then none, respectively, because of low blood platelets count. All that happened over the course of 2017 / 2018. I wasn’t there. I didn’t see him going through chemo. I didn’t witness all the fatigue and tiresome nights. I didn’t see him in pain. He still kept an active lifestyle as much as he could. He still went to the mosque for prayers, visited family, and tinkered around the house. Don’t get me wrong, he was weak! But my dad never liked showing weakness, it embarrassed him. And I think we inherited that from him. He got better! He traveled with the family for three weeks to the U.K. to visit my sister. He was happy. He had hope, but most importantly faith. He was regaining his lost weight. He had an MRI followup appointment when he got back. They found an enlarged node behind his lung. They said it was too small to do anything and that we shouldn’t worry, they will keep monitoring it every 3 months. I can tell you now that then he was under the delusion that he was fine. No symptoms, no pain, anyone would think they’re fine. He was fine. 

Now I want to tell you how I felt throughout the past year. I felt distressed. I was in constant worry. My family called every week. I’d talk to dad for a couple of minutes, nothing deep, no major stories, just your typical how-are-yous. He seemed fine. He was always comforting me not to worry. But I couldn’t help it. Every time I expressed my desire to go back, he would tell me not to. My relationship with my husband suffered. David offered all the support he could. He is compassionate by nature. But I am very difficult to deal with during times of hardship. I don’t like to be comforted, hugged, or reminded of my distress. I’ve always believed it’s a sign of weakness. I battled the decision of leaving everything behind daily. I always wanted to leave everything behind. But then I kept telling myself everything was fine and my father was fine.

During the beginning of 2019, my grandmother and my father both fell ill. And her illness progressed very fast consisting of heart failure due to old age. She had always suffered from high blood pressure and diabetes. My dad, who was so close to her, took it hard. It took a toll on his health, his worry and stress manifested in physical symptoms. He started turning yellow. He was jaundiced! He was admitted to the hospital and discharged the next day due to the normality of his jaundice! It was part of the cancer progression. His cancer by then has metastasized, and enlarged lymph nodes are now blocking his bile duct, hence jaundice. He was put on IV fluids to flush out the built-up bilirubin. His condition calmed down. He didn’t suffer from anything else but turning yellow every now and then, and he got his fluids and drank lots of water, he was back to normal. Then one day, after Ramadan of that year had ended, everything went down the drain!

Participating with RAW Artists

 

Raw Artists is an organization by Artists for Artists. It produces showcases through crowdfunding. I was first contacted by one of their curators, who found me on Instagram. She asked me if I was interested in participating. She explained the whole concept and assigned me an Art director; Zachary Sanders. At first, I thought the requirement of selling 20 tickets is too much. I thought I didn’t know 20 people who would commit to a $25 ticket to see my artwork on a Wednesday night! But I thought wrong! When I first got the news I told my family and they said not to worry they’ll buy the tickets, followed by David who said he would buy a bunch too! My friends on Social Media, my San Francisco friends all promised to buy some and they delivered their promise! A great deal of support came through EC and their students! Also, Six people bought tickets who knew they couldn’t make it! It was to my surprise that people cared that much to support Artists! 

I was given only three weeks to sell the tickets, decide on which paintings I was  displaying on my 6×6 wall, figure out a way to hang them, frame them, and again SELL the tickets: hyped up the event on Social Media platforms. I managed! I sold 32 tickets by the day of the showcase!

The night before the event while I was loading up the car trunk with my paintings, I was struck with fever! The day of the event I work up with a congested throat! I worked half a day until 12:30 until I had to head to 1015 Folsom to set up! It was exciting! David, my little helper, was a bliss from God! I couldn’t thank him enough for his support. I was standing on my feet from 8 AM until 11:30 PM. I was exhausted, popping Tylenol every 4 hours to calm my fever and throat! 

Anyway, Zachary gave an awesome encouraging speech; doors opened at 7 PM and people told me that they were lining up around the block! I was happy! I didn’t expect it to be that big. We were told we should expect 800+ guests. But I guess I didn’t realize how huge it was until I saw the crowds coming in. Every time I saw a face I recognized I felt thrilled; Seeing the people who support me coming to my wall saying hi to me, staring at my artwork, I felt super grateful! I realized I owed these people huge favors that I would be happy to return one day! 

What I have learned from this experience is to definitely call in sick. Never work half day sick when I have a showcase on the same night! 


This event wouldn’t have happened, with all it’s ups & downs, without the help and support of the following;

My family, especially, Dina Sofi

My husband, David M. Sosebee Jr.

Raw Artists, especially Zachary Sanders

EC San Francisco, especially, Ryan Hisamoto

Alaa Fadaq

Chloe Donnelly

Banan Alqadi

Ashley & Cullin Mahon

Sarah Al-Shahwan

Raheem Bahlas

Lujain & John Harrington

Linah Mandourah

Samah Damanhoori

Amal Muhammad

Bruce Oberon

Wafa Aljohani

Lisa Trevisanut

Anna Schmidt

Ahad Alrummani

Toru Tsukui

Tara Anderson

Those who do not thank people, do not thank The Lord! 


 

 

 

 

 

 

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“Come back, have faith”

The title is a line from the song ” Soon” by My Bloody Valentine.


Some times, the people we’re involved with don’t just leave us, or simply cheat on us, but they leave or cheat for someone else; a competitor comes along to play the monstrous antagonist in our fairytale. Knocking down that beautiful life we have painted in our heads. The agony raises one fundamental question that persists, some times, throughout our lives; What does the other woman / man possesses that we don’t; What do we lack that they don’t? Let’s just say one thing, that question will never be answered. You might go through a lot of discussions with the person who hurt you, they will never provide a sufficient answer. You might gossip and vent to your family and friends, you might ever reach out to the other woman / man, and they themselves can’t answer that question for you. You’re looking for relief.

Part of this pain is based on a crucial human characteristic; we know ourselves from within. We know too many specific details and exciting secrets about ourselves. But what we know about people is only their exterior. We only know what they choose to reveal; which, most of the time, is nothing but a shimmering picture they paint for themselves; a pretty face and a seductive personality! No one, after all, would show people the dark side, not even you! As a result, we may feel that the other woman / man, whom we were dumped for, or cheated on with (and whom we stalk on social networks), is an extraordinary person at all level; we’re shy, they’re not. We’re messy, they’re organized. We’re boring, but they like concerts, jokes and smiles. Our friends and family might reassure us, with good intentions, and remind us of our wit, knowledge, or awesomeness. Or they might remind us of how much they enjoy our company. However, this might not be the best way to get over the feeling of abandonment for someone else; someone whom we think is better than us.

To get over the pain of feeling worthless against the other woman / man, we must realize that every person is ordinary to a great extent. No such person is “the perfect one”. There are only differences between us. But eventually, we all share one thing, we all are ordinary people. And then we might also realize that the person who left for someone else is also as ordinary. Our failures in love, and our flaws might be real, very real. But the picture we know and the picture we have about our “competition” leans towards total ignorance. We know nothing about their flaws. What reaches us about their lives is only what they choose to share on their Instagram or Twitter! Getting over the pain can’t be achieved through denying the fact that we have a less awesome side, but it requires not to be hostile towards ourselves in picturing the other woman / man. Therefor, we get a more balanced picture of who they are, and how humans are alike.

Naturally, the “competition” has some qualities we lack, perhaps a better looking body, or a more satisfying job. Maybe they’re better educated or more interesting. Maybe they share more interests than us! But at the same time, guaranteed, they have a great number of flaws, the same way we do. This should provide some ease; Not because we know these flaws, but because we know that people are generally flawed. The general rule states that everyone we encounter must possess some quality or behavior that will disappoint us. No matter how much the other man / woman is attractive, they will disappoint that who disappointed us.

When our loved ones decided to jump to another relationship or cheat on us, they didn’t knock knock knock on heaven’s doors. They only replaced one flawed relationship with another. We should never torture ourselves with the idea that they would be unconditionally happy with the other! The lesson we should learn is that we’re not the only ones flawed, or damaged goods. But we were dumped or cheated on for a delusion that a person is always happier when in another relationship, but in fact, every human relationship is especially sad, and is uniquely beautiful.


I translated (with addition) the following tweets