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These Three Words

The airport was packed with people. 

I think it was July 4th weekend because I remember people were in shorts and it was mad hot outside. A group of children sat in the seats near me. It looked like they were sharing a bag of potato chips. The oldest looking boy was hogging the bag. I figured they were going on vacation because they looked far too excited to be returning home. I sat in the corner on the floor waiting for my flight to board. My book bag was sprawled out in front of me. I took my flip flops off to get more comfortable. Since I was a child I’ve always hated shoes. My mother always joked and said I inherited that from my African father, who himself preferred bare feet even in the coldest of months.

I was on the phone with a man that I would marry in the months to follow. I was in my own world. He was, in fact, slowly and surely becoming my world. Ironically enough, I don’t even remember what city I was traveling in at the time when he first said it to me. 

The mind is an interesting facet. It is a chest full of ideas, dreams, fears and sporadic thoughts. Some people say you remember what you choose while others say you remember the things that spark a deep emotional response within you. I believe the latter. 

I remember the sincerity in his voice. I remember the way my heart exploded when he uttered those three words. I remember he was hesitant and guarded but all the while confident. 

Then he said it.

I did not respond.

I soaked it in, marinated in his words then mentally saved a little for a rainy day. 

Until that moment I had never felt the power of these three words. They were heavy. Heavy in a good way.

His vulnerabilities started to surface and he began to apologize for his brazenness. 

He was nervously mumbling his words.

Perhaps my silence made him question himself.

I immediately stopped him. 

He was ready to give and my heart was willing to accept. I was young, inexperienced and eager to be loved by a man. When a woman is ready for this chapter in her life no one can stop her, not even her own parents.

As Muslims we walk a very fine line that can be confusing at times. We attempt to navigate a world while being culturally and religiously appropriate, all the while living in a society that doesn’t put much value on either. At times, this can lead to one not being entirely true to themselves. True to their emotions. Some deem it unislamic to confess your love openly, especially as a woman. But how can you be true with others when you aren’t true to yourself? 

Does sincerity not start from within?

Now I am certainly not encouraging folks to profess their undying love to just anyone. I am just reminding you, as well as myself, to be more open with the feelings that Allah has placed within us all. I wish we lived in a world where there was no fear involved with being honest about your feelings. It would make life a hell of a lot easier. Emotions are the core of the human experience and when I deny them I am directly denying myself.

I’ve always said the purest love is that which is young, untainted and immature. Before hard life lessons bite you in the ass. When you haven’t been hurt you allow your heart to guide you. After pain the intellect supersedes the heart. Rationale triumphs emotion in order to avoid pain. For some it’s a coping mechanism. That’s just the way it is. I don’t understand why. Everything in life doesn’t have an explanation so we must stop expecting one for every misfortune that befalls us. 

I never questioned his love. Even though the marriage ended in divorce I believe he loved the best way he could. The only way he knew how to. We all love differently. As children we learn how to love from our parents, siblings and society. You carry those learned habits into your adult life. Some of those habits are good and others are bad.

Just as quickly as people fall in love they fall out of love. I hope to experience the sweetness that comes along with this process. We all experience love so differently and no two experiences are ever he same. Staying in love is never a guarantee and understanding that will allow you to avoid the pitfalls that come a long with the pain.

Plainly put, sometimes shit happens and for some people it is worse than others.

You have to pick yourself up, brush that dust off and keep on keepin’ on. 

It may not be ok today. There is no guarantee that it will be ok tomorrow either.

That one day, when you least expect it, you will realize that the hurt made you stronger.

You were always ok. Life just tricked you into thinking you were not.

It has always been in you.

Promise.

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