I haven’t forgotten the sound of your voice any more than I have forgotten the sound of my mother’s heartbeat when I rested my head against her chest during cold Wisconsin nights.
I haven’t forgotten the sound of your voice any more than I have forgotten the sound of the wind shuffling its feet through kaleidoscope colored leaves in the Kickapoo Valley.
I haven’t forgotten the sound of your voice any more than I have forgotten the sound of my breath exhaled in cold clouds of wishes half-formed.
Ummi? Is that you?
Yes, it’s me, it’s me here listening and waiting, thinking and planning, hoping and striving. Yes, it’s me, still holding you as close as ever I did those hours spent each evening going over the blessings of the day and looking forward to what we would do on the next. Yes, it’s me, pulling you still in your little red wagon with your name painted on the side, full of books and stuffed animals and the Cheetos truck you wouldn’t let go of. Yes it’s me, sitting in the swing on Grandma and Grandpa’s porch, holding hands, looking at the stars, never imagining I would be a world apart from you, my little blonde whirlwind.
Yes, it’s me.
Just a few words, a few seconds of peace snatched out of a world that is increasingly chaotic.
All of the words I had stored up in a full heart, behind closed lips for weeks suddenly change form, becoming tears that refuse to be held back, tears of love and joy and loss and patience and pain for you, for me, for what has been and what may be.
I cannot speak, but I can hear, and I hear your voice as it always was, reciting Qur’aan all day long, no matter what you were doing.
I cannot speak, but I can hear, and I hear your voice as it always was, asking questions that made me think with my head as well as my heart.
I cannot speak, but I can hear, and I hear your voice as it always was, before.
Your voice and the wind blend together, and I hear the cry of the child that has become the man.
Khadijah is still trying to adjust to life in the States after almost ten years in Yemen. She is a writer, translator, teacher, herbalist, fiber artist, and homeschooling mother to her eight children. Her oldest, Mujaahid, is in a village under siege in northern Yemen with his wife and children.