I tugged on my dog’s leash and maneuvered both of us past a water puddle.
I haven’t been out of the house, really, in six days but today we went to the park for an hour.
The first people I noticed were a young couple chasing each other around and laughing.
I wished I was the woman for a moment.
Being chased around a swing set made for children.
I began to notice other men and women who were jogging, walking, running and chatting with each other around the park’s track. I don’t know what I expected. It was an everyday scene and part of me wished I was them as well.
I thought to myself, “How do I know what their lives are like? Maybe they are here too, just like me, trying to find some sort of normalcy, but for other reasons. Maybe their situations are horrible at home or maybe better. It doesn’t matter. Stop wishing you were somebody else.”
And so I did.
I closed my eyes and stopped walking. I called out to Allah with sincerity in my heart and I prayed for the world. I prayed for peace for myself and asked with humbleness for Him to hear my prayers. I prayed for peace for everyone.
Some I called by name; specifically my ex-husband and son. Others I generalized. The oppressed. The rich. The poor. The priveledged. I simply spoke to God and asked for forgiveness and hope.
Then I opened my eyes and scanned the park once more before leaving. Marveling at the beauty of the changing leaves. The wisp of wind against my skin reminded me of the changing seasons and I thanked God for that.
As we neared the truck I saw a white car pull up to the curb just ahead of us.
A man and two children got out and then your door opened.
There you were. A Muslim woman and wearing hijab. Honestly that would be the only way I knew you were Muslim.
I touched my head without noticing at first. I had donned hijab just days ago in anticipation of my official ceremony at the Mosque to announce my conversion. It had been awkward so many times to try and get it right. I finally had found pins though to hold my scarves in place and when I had finally looked at the finished product in the mirror I had been elated. So happy. Nervous I didn’t look right, but then felt foolish after that thinking to myself, “What does it mean to look right wearing hijab?”
I smiled thinking about my scarves at home and wished I was wearing one at that moment. That would be the only way you would have known I was Muslim as well.
And it doesn’t even matter now that I think about it.
I wanted to embrace you. Not physically per se but I wanted to speak and say hello and greet you and your family but I was tired and oh so exhausted from the past seven days.
You see for months I’ve been learning Arabic. I’ve been making friends with some of the most amazing people across the globe. I’ve visited the Mosque here and I’m sure you go there. It’s the only one in town. I’ve learned some about Islam from my friends and then when I met the Imam two months ago on my birthday. That’s when I knew I had found what I’ve been searching for.
You would never know about the nights I read my Quran, in both Arabic and English. The nights I’ve spent trying my best to cover my head without looking like E.T. in the bicycle basket. The smiles I’ve given my phone when taking selfies and the laughter I’ve shared with my friend Jill when she says I look beautiful and I know better.
You wouldn’t know about those things. I would like to have told you though.
How are you faring with all that is going on?
I watched your husband play with your children and I dreamed of my own family one day. My own new husband and hopefully children.
I wanted to cry so hard and not just for all the terrible things that have been going on since Tuesday, but for the fact that even in our own city here, yours and mine, you are the first woman I’ve seen wearing hijab. And you weren’t afraid to wear it. You could’ve been scared. Maybe you were.
And so I thought to myself as I sat in my truck with my dog while watching you and your little family walk around toward the ducks; I watched and even though I don’t know your story, you will never have any idea what seeing you did for me today.
You gave me hope. You helped me heal a little today and for that I am grateful.
You helped me see that no matter what I go through I will be OK.
All of this may not make sense but trust me when I say you helped me.
I thank you for that and I thank God.
Love was alive in the park today. Families all around of every race and color and children running and playing and in the end that was all that mattered.
For an hour in front of my eyes the world was OK.