Baba’s mother died before I was born.
Her oldest son died in the ‘67 war in Egypt. Most of her went with him.
Every day after losing him, a small part of her stopped breathing until there was nothing left.
She wore black until the day she died.
Her husband followed.
The eldest daughter wore her mother’s grief for two years after.
I remember when Mama’s father got sick. She flew him out of Syria
to Egypt, hoping to bring him to America to save him.
When I asked him about home, his eyes watered, and he took a callused hand to my cheek.
He refused to leave. We sent him back.
Mama was oceans away when he died. She has not forgiven herself.
Teta cried everyday during his last days, but at the end she did not weep.
She had nine children to hold.
Three years ago, two of her boys went to the war.
Two years ago, they locked one of her boys away.
She did not cry, she had six children to hold.
Her garden grieved for her. The trees and grape vines wore midnight for her hands.
The flowers still grow.
I understand why Jiddo’s eyes watered when he spoke of home.
And the emptiness or the fullness in our lungs when we think of how the tiles on our grandmothers’ balconies feel beneath bare feet.
And how the air often smells of fire and feels of warmth.
The sweet scent of jasmines in the dusty dawns.
When my friend Kathy asks me why I want to weep when I see the stars,
I tell her she was not brought up in mourning.