Friday, December 19, 2008
Right here and right now!!
Ive had a very stressful and hectic past few years...not many opportunities to claim that I was feeling "good"...feeling "right"...feeling "content and at peace" with myself and my life in general. Anyone that knows a little about my life from this blog will understand what Im talking about...but I dont want anyone to assume I havent had "some moments" too...some moments to just sit back and say "wow" or "cool"...or even "Im glad Im here... right here and right now"...doesnt happen often but it does happen...even to me...so heres my "right here and right now" story. (beware...I do not know how to get to the point without wandering far afield now and then...you've been warned)
Im going to write this in the present tense...all though it happened over two years ago...bear with me...Im like that.
Ive lived in Bahrain for 19 years now and Ive never been to Mecca...never been to Saudi for that matter. I have dreamed of going to Haj or Umrah for years but my husband has never even considered the possibility...there is always an excuse why we cant go. Its on my list of Things To Do...but also on my list of Things Im Not Likely To Ever Do As Long As Im Married To HIM!! That list is far longer than the first one...sigh!
My best friend came to me today and asked me something that I thought would never be spoken to me..."would you like to go to Umrah?" Excuse me...is that a trick question? She explained that her cousin was organizing a group to travel together...and she also knew another lady that was willing to pay all expenses for someone to perform Umrah that had never gone before and couldnt afford it. That lady wondered if my best friend knew anyone that "fit the bill"...that bill fits me so well...it was made for me!! She warned me though that nothing was for sure just yet...the bus was pretty full...they were not sure if there were two available seats left just then...my son having to travel with me for mahrem purposes (never even considered asking my husband...I knew he would refuse...and I didnt want him raining on my spiritual parade). So I have been waiting for two days...not really holding my breath...but feeling breathless all the same.
Both my best friend and her cousin came to see me today...with huge grins on their faces...it would seem that I am Umrah bound...Im left quite speechless...to be so close to something and not be able to actually see it or touch it...or experience, it is so much harder than to be on the other side of the world with an ocean or two between you...being close and yet so far...is so much harder. For several moments Im not able to say anything...but they understand completely and just quietly celebrate with me.
OMG! Now I have just 2 days to prepare myself for my Spiritual Journey of a Lifetime...how does one prepare for such a momentous moment? I have been dreaming about this every since I had reverted to a Muslim...but to be faced with the actuality of it was overwhelming...if you've ever felt like your floating...and about to throw up at the same time...its a little like that!
Well, Ive spent the last two days on a whirlwind of shopping for a suitcase, abaya and mentally preparing myself for what lays ahead....I keep thinking that Im in no way ready or even deserving to make such a trip...I mean really! is there like a Belief Meter or something at the border to indicate whether your actually spiritually deserving of entering Mecca? Im sure I would fail...positive...sigh! of course I have the sneaky feeling that there is some sort of divine intervention for such failings...like a bolt of lightening zapping me out of existence the moment I step foot on "hollowed" ground...(wondering what that feels like). Im definitely taking a chance here...my kids need a mother...but the risk is well worth it...no doubt.
It turns out that I am the only non-Bahraini travelling on this particular bus...and so apparently it would be easier for all concerned if I wasnt actually on the bus when it goes over the bridge and border...dont ask me why...Im just along for the ride. The plan is for my best friend and her husband to drive me and my son over the bridge...and then wait in the middle for the bus to come through. Everyone is thinking that the bus will be waiting for us...but it turns out that we will be waiting for the bus for nearly 3 hours (memo to bridge authority...there has got to be faster methods for getting people checked and through without waiting hours for the pleasure of entering or exiting Saudi...damn!).
I might mention that Im damn uncomfortable wearing this heavy abaya...I havent actually worn one in quite awhile...I usually wear long shirts etc...and this one is way too big for me...its dragging on the ground and falling over my shoulders even though its a snap on the shoulder type. Makes me want to pull some hair out the way I keep having to lift it up to keep from stepping on it...or pull it into place. Reminds me why I dont like wearing them in the first place....arrrgh! Oh how I wish an abaya wasnt a pre-requisite to entering Mecca...the things women have to wear to please men...uhm...I mean God.
Anyhow...while we are patiently waiting for the bus to get through...we decide to pass the time by eating a late lunch. We went to some place called Kudos, which Ive never been to before...and will likely never go to again. Bear with me...the next few paragraphs will not be pleasant for the faint of heart.
Half way through lunch I start feeling decidedly odd. Cant quite place it but I know something is "off" within me. At first I believed that my anemia was acting up and so my friends husband and my son raced on ahead to bring me back some folic acid. It generally perks me right up...if that was the problem...turns out it wasnt. My friend and I went to the nearby mosque and I laid down in the ladies section on the floor...with my head on her lap while she read Quran on me. My head was hurting and spinning...my insides were churning and cramping...and before long I would be fairly sure I seen Death waving cheerily from the window of the mosque...ugh!
It took husband and son quite along time to return and in the meantime I was busy alternating between sitting on the toilet bowl or facing it...depending on what needed exiting at that particular moment. I felt like death warmed over and was sure I was going to die in a dirty bathroom on the bridge to Saudi...and never even getting to see the Kabaa after all my suffering...poor me! In the meantime my friend was panicking believing pretty much the same things...and calling her husband to come back ASAP and running back and forth to help me and to see if the bus had come through yet. I forgot to mention that her cousin (brother to the cousin that arranged this trip for me) (also might mention he is the Muslim man I admired in a previous post about Sunni and Shias marrying and he behaving as a true Muslim throughout...sorry...still having problems with linking). She was wanting her cousin to go on without me...I was that bad...but when he and the bus eventually did show up...his words were this..."if she is going to die...what better place to do it in for a Muslim then in Mecca?" Cant fight that logic...all though she did...but eventually I was on the bus...husband and son came back finally and son got on with me...his concern for me was so apparent...but he was forced to sit in the front with the men while the ladies sat in the back...but I could see his anxious face searching for me every now and then...and each time we made a stop...he was right there ready to do anything for me...I love my son!
Now, for anyone that has ever had food poisoning (Im assuming that is what it is)...you will know exactly what I was going through...but what you dont know is that our original bus was supposed to have a bathroom on it...turns out that one broke down and the one we now had did not have a bathroom...I did not know that when I got on there and we set off...not sure if the cousin considered this when he hustled me up the stairs...I will give him the benefit of the doubt and assume he was unaware just how sick I was...and exactly what problem I had...but the next day and a half riding the bus all the way to Mecca was pure agony....and thats putting it lightly.
to be continued...