Friday, October 14, 2011

Finding comfort

This was a tough week; filled with losses and sadness.

And this distance, this enormous distance that places me thousands of miles away from my family and friends, becomes even more tangible and real at times like this. It creates this painful impossibility of simply being there – to say goodbye to people I truly care about and to help console the ones that were left behind, grieving.

But today I too was able to find comfort. Out of the blue and from somewhere unexpected.

I was in front of the computer, working, when the Friday prayer started. For those of you less acquainted with Islam, Friday is a holy day for the Muslims. Kind of like the Sunday in Christianity and the Saturday in Judaism.

The words and chanting of the Imam (worship and spiritual leader) from a nearby Mosque are usually ignored. After all, they are more like a distant murmur that I can’t quite hear all the way from my apartment – and even if I did, I would not make anything out of it for I don’t speak Arabic.

But today, for some reason, I let it all in. I stopped what I was doing and allowed that humming to take my mind away.

I closed my eyes, as if in a trance, and thought about life and death and the things that are really important in between. The way I see it, we come into this world exactly as we leave it - with absolutely nothing. But we do leave a lot behind. Most importantly, a legacy of memories that we build with others along the way. So, in this sense, we carry on…

I thought about how hard it is to say goodbye. I’ve had to do it time and time again for the past six years, ever since I left Brazil, and it doesn’t get easier. Sure, I know this is entirely different because I will probably see everyone again soon (Inshala!). But at the same time it is, nonetheless, a goodbye.

You have to learn to live without the familiar faces, smiles, frowns. You don’t get to hear the voices, the laughter, and the cries. You are not present at special occasions. You miss the birth, the first steps and the first words of your nephews. You don’t get to be a part of a life that still goes on, unaffected, unchanged and unaltered by your absence.

The pain of letting go is indescribable and it hangs in there for a while. But after some time you remember you have all these good memories stored somewhere. And they keep you going. They put a smile on your face when you are feeling down, they warm you up when you are feeling cold and they keep you company when you are feeling lonely.

As I let myself get lost in the memories of the ones that left us and the ones who were left behind, I remembered the first time I had to say my first real goodbye. I was 7. My Grandmother was suddenly not there anymore and I couldn't understand where she had gone to or why.

And with that, my reflection, which started with words from an Imam, took a turn and ended with a prayer from Saint Francis, which always seems to comfort me:

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love.
Where there is injury, pardon.
Where there is doubt, faith.
Where there is despair, hope.
Where there is darkness, light.
Where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master,
grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled, as to console;
to be understood, as to understand;
to be loved, as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive.
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life.

This post is dedicated to the Zaiden, Bandeira de Mello and Teixeira families.


  1. Mari, lindo o post. Muito emocionante. Muito tristes com a notícia da Tia Nádia...

  2. Lindo isso Mari, so quem ta distante que entende. Bjs