Tuesday, May 30, 2006


I played back videos of him and me and me and him and happy times with lots of laughing and smiling and kissing and goofing around.There was a video where he mugged for the new web cam and I still smile back at all his rubber faced antics. He then turns to me and kisses my cheek and tells me that he loves me. I tell him to say it into the camera.

"Habibi. Elbee," he starts off calling me his love and his heart. "Ana mahabebek awy awy awy." I love you so so so much.

And then he kisses at the camera. I don't care who you are, or what you've read, or what you've had to live with. When you see that and feel that you want to wait for him to wake up.

There's another video where he starts off with talking but ends up kissing my cheek. I kept replaying that scene. I see myself. I see the "me" before all this happened and I envy her. I envy her knowledge of true love. I don't have that any more. I have only memories of that love.
Then, in that same video, I pull the back of his head downward and kiss his cheek in return. When I finish touching my lips to his face, I look into the camera so filled with contentment.
"You won't always feel that way," I wanted to talk to her--I mean me. "You are feeling so secure in your marriage. You are soaking up his every kiss and believing his every word. He's going to tell you that he wants a baby with you. You're going to think that it will cement your marriage, but it won't. It's going to tear it apart, because he's afraid of growing up and owning up to responsibility."
And I look into her eyes--my eyes and I know that she isn't going to see it coming. This terrible chain of events: his stress from overworking coinciding with the pregnancy, the bombshell of polygamy, the cruel romance before the birth, his relatives coming, the attempts to accept the situation, his reversals, the visits to the sheik, all the bleeding and all the pain, all the tears, trying and trying to do what's right. It's all ahead of this very loving, trusting woman.

Friday, May 26, 2006

A Million LIttle Wishes

Today the fluff fell from the trees and it looked like it was snowing.

No, not snowing, because that's what a person from down South would say. They only see light snowfalls. I've seen the blizzards, so I can't say that it was like snow.

It was like a giantic dandelion was blown and all the seeds went flying through the air hoping for a soft place to land. It wasn't dandelion seeds though. I think it was cottonwood, but the seeds carried the same message, "Please accept me and let me grow."
I stood there after the call from my kids' father. He has them now. I can't offer them enough at this time. Their father wanted to tell me, "They are not going to be allowed at your house as long as he is there. He has gotten too angry too many times and the kids are scared of him."
My son had told him, "Dad, I've got an analogy." He got the idea of analogies from me. "It's like their house is full of gas and us kids are the matches. I'm not sure what's going to set it off."
Part of it is the whole Arab way of talking with lots of volume and gestures. Part of it is true. My husband has gone past the limit of being civil to two children who need a place to feel safe.
Standing in the street, with all that whiteness swirling, I thought of how I used to try to catch them, hold them in my hand, make a wish and let them go. It seemed as if all the wishes were coming to me and asking me to pick one. Pick one wish. Which one would I pick?
That my husband and I survive his infidelity wrapped in polygamy?
That I don't have to give up my children?
That my faith grows through torment?
My husband had gone to a different masjid. I had called him en route to tell of the news from the kids' dad. He doesn't see his part in it. He doesn't see how he was wrong."If you have to pick between me and the kids, choose your kids. I'll be fine " he said.
I had brought the baby alone to the masjid where I said, "shahaddah." Everything had been changed and I couldn't find my way. Where were the women praying? Not the first floor. Not the second floor. When I did find the women, the door to the prayer hall was locked. I stood in the hallway with all the shoes and prayed. Alone. Me and my baby alone.
Afterward, I went to see the sheik who is working with me now. The other sheik from Iraq, who knows the story so well, doesn't speak English enough to understand me without a translator. This new sheik can communicate, although we didn't talk much today since he was surrounded by men. When I did get called up to talk, I only got out a few words and started to cry. He ushered me to his office and I stood there. Alone. I wiped my tears and left without saying another word. I couldn't risk crying infront of all the men again. I left with my gaze downward and I headed back into the heat of the day.
It was then that I stood on the street with a million little wishes floating by and I didn't know which to take.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Crying and Praying

I prayed. I cried as I prayed.

"Allah, I want to be good in this life, but this life is so hard on me. I deserve a good life. As your servant, I want that good life. I want peace and I want happiness and I don't really have either right now. You know that. You are with me. I turn away from you, but you are with me all the time. I need to be better with how I'm living my life and stay out of this mess. It is so messy. I don't want to live like this forever. Please deliver me from this. Help me tonight when I pray istakarah to understand what I should do."

I called the Sheik's assistant after that. He hadn't returned my call from all those days ago. He had been out of town. He was also leaving town and handing over his duties to another man. I will have to tell yet another man what is happening in my home. I will do it though. I will do it because somehow I will be delivered from this situation.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Power Shoes

I look so cute today!
Oh, yes, I do have good self-esteem. I'll qualify that I have good self-esteem today. I don't think there's one woman on the planet whose inner applause meter is always registering high.
I've got on the long-sleeved brown cotton India import dress with all the crewel work. Thrift store. It goes down to my ankles! Can you stand it, Muslimahs?! If you are reading this as a non-Muslim, you might not see the significance. Trust me it's hard to shop in the U.S. for fully-covering clothes that fit you loosely enough, are long enough, are made of breathable material and still feel like "you".
My difficulties shopping and being a presentable Muslimah in the U.S. are probably part of the reason why I get so disgruntled at the sight of my husband's ex in photos. She lives in a Muslim country! There is a person selling hejab on every block! There are complete outfits with MATCHING hejab. And if you do wear modest clothing in Egypt, you are respected more instead of harassed more, as I have been in the U.S. Today, I wore the beige hejab I bought right before I went to Egypt. Back then, I only had the beige one and a white one. Both of them were slippery synthetic Georgette and I wore a cap underneath to keep them on. I was so hot! And I mean sweaty not sexy. I've since figured out that those fancy hejabs aren't part of my everyday apparel.
Anyway, my shoes today were the most important item I was wearing. They are power shoes. What is a power shoe? It is any footwear that helps you walk through an amazing life moment. Once you have worn them through that milestone, you get power from them every time you wear them again. It's my own personal philosophy.
The shoes are Aerosoles 8 1/2, open-toed, low heel pumps with two wide brown straps. The upper strap velcros. They are so comfortable. They seemed like the right shoes to wear in a very uncomfortable situation.Today, I had to go to the school music program and be in the same room with the ex and the outlaws. Remember I said that I had been married previoulsy for 9 1/2 years? Well, those years produced kids, who I mostly won't blog about.
It was actually a music program, all those years ago, that turned those pumps into power shoes. When the shoes were new, my oldest came home with an invitation to the music program. I was startled to see the date. It was going to be on what would have been our 10th wedding anniversary.
I stood there in my kitchen, trying to seem excited while telling myself, "There's no way in hell I'm going to tell my kid that I can't make it because I don't want to see his father on our wedding anniversary."
So I blathered something out and the kid sweetly answers, "Dad said maybe you wouldn't come because it's your wedding anniversary."
Great. He told the kid. Why did he have to tell the kid?! I promised I would come. I would take off work and come to see the show. I would not sit next to their dad. I would not even look at him. I would think of a thousand other things that I would not do in order to make it through.
The day came. I dressed for work and put on my new shoes. I thought about what a terrible ordeal I was preparing for. I went to work and told every co-worker what day it was and how I was feeling so jumpy about the whole thing. I left work in a nervous state of mind, but I started to pray.
Prayer can be done almost any time and in almost any place. Muslims do the five ritualistic prayers that are scheduled, but we also keep Allah in our minds and hearts throughout the day. Even before I started practising Islam, I was remembering God in my daily life. And there I was in the car driving over to the school. I was looking good but I was feeling all churned up inside.
I turned off the freeway into the neighborhood and was within a mile of the school when I saw him. He was running down the sidewalk. This was a school-age boy who was not in school. And he wasn't jogging, or happily racing, he was running for his life; as if his life depended on it. I slowed down and looked. I then saw that he didn't have any shoes. He was running with only socks.
I drove one block more and then turned around. That wasn't right. Something was desperately wrong with that boy. He was somebody's son, even if he wasn't mine. If I didn't help him, then who would?
I had turned the car around. I was no longer headed for the school. The program started in ten minutes. There was the boy. He was little and chubby. Maybe around nine years old. I pulled over and talked to him through the open window."Hi! It looks like you need some help."
He looked over at me and then ran through a yard to get away from me. I'm a pretty persistant person, which he didn't know, but was soon going to find out. I turned the corner and started to scan the yards. Where did he go?
There! I spotted him. He was now in the wooded area behind the houses. He was trudging through the tall grass. I stopped the car and got out in my nice clothes and new shoes and I had seven minutes to make it to the school on time."Hey! Hey! Come on back!" I called. "I know something is wrong and I want to help you!"He was gone. I started down the hill and into the tall grass when I realized that it wasn't stable ground. I looked down. It was a swamp. I swallowed hard. I really loved my new shoes. I looked up to see where the boy was. He had reached the edge of the wooded area and was now scaling the chain link fence. On the other side of the fence was the freeway.
"Hey! Dude! Stop! Get back here! I've got a cell phone," and I thank God for cell phones, "and I'm going to call the police on you if you don't come back."
"Leave me alone!" He called back in obvious distrust.
By that time I was sinking through the swamp water turning shiny shoes into covered-in-muck shoes. I was about to reach him when he escaped the only way he could. He couldn't go forward or backward, so he went up. He climbed a tree. There I stood with the clock ticking. My sweet child, in the costume I had made, was waiting for me at school. Why waste my time on this kid?
"Can you come down?" I was shouting up at him.
"No! You can't make me!"
"No, but I can talk with you and see what's wrong!"
It was a little hard counseling at high decibels, but I kept going, "I used to work at the emergency shelter!"
"How did you know I was from there?"
Wow. I hadn't known that. I was only using my resume credentials so he'd know that I was a verifiable good person. But it all made sense. The shelter was about two miles from where we were. When the children were at danger for running from the shelter, the staff took their shoes as a deterent. It obviously hadn't detered shoeless Joe.
"Look, I'm also a mom," I reasoned. "My kid is in the music program and it stars in five minutes. Can you just come with me now so I can make it there in time and then I help you figure everything else out?"
There was silence. Except for my shoes making the squeaky squishy sound when I shifted my weight, there was silence.
"I don't want to go back. I want to see my mom."
That was sad to hear. Most kids at the emergency shelter were there from abuse or neglect at the hands of their parents or other family members. Yet, every child still missed their home.
"OK. I hear you. We can talk about it; you and me. It's either you and me going now, or I call the police and they talk with you." I had to rush him so I pulled my cell phone out of my pocket. "Can you get down now? Or should I call the police?"
Thankfully, he started down the tree and made it safely down. He didn't try to run any more. He had come to trust me. As gratifying as that was, it was also a little depressing that child abductors and molestors probably pick up runaways more.
We went through the murky waters one more time. He was ahead of me and could have escaped, but he was a tame boy by then and didn't. We got into my car and I checked the time. Three minutes.
"OK. Thanks for coming with me. I do want to talk with you, but my kid is expecting me to be sitting in the audience right now. Let's make it there, " I talked as quickly as I zoomed through the neighborhood. "You can sit with me and watch the performance and then I'll help you out."
We were parking a block away. The parents who hadn't been rescuing a runaway had gotten all the good parking spots. Time to get out and make a run, well not a run; make a mad dash for the door. But he didn't want to get out. It was one minute to go.
"I've only got socks on. Everybody will see that."
"Dude, your socks are so dirty right now they look like shoes. And look at my shoes! You look better than me. Come on!"
The mother with the son who wasn't hers walked across the street and to the door. My adrenaline was pumping as we entered the auditorium. The show hadn't started yet! Incredibly, we made it on time! I saw my littlest one just waiting for mom. She was a bit surprised at the boy with me.
"He's a friend of mine, " I explained. "He's going to watch the show and then I'm going to help him."
I didn't explain it just then to the man from whom I was separated. The show was about to start.The boy sat so calmly and leaned over to ask which kid on stage was mine. He listened and clapped. He was very attentive. My own kid did a good job too. I settled down knowing that I had done the right thing.When the show ended, I congratulated my little performer and told a shorthand explanation to the kids' dad. The principal was right there so I pulled him aside to discuss the situation with him.
"Oh, him?" The principal was unusually sour sounding. "He's run away before. He just wants the attention."
"Well, then, " I offered. "Let's give him some, because if we don't, he'll end up somewhere worse than the shelter."
The principal got a push from me to meet with the boy and I wasn't going to take "no" for an answer. The three of us sat in the office to figure out what was going on. In the end, the boy had to go back to the place that would take him, as his mother couldn't take him. It was sad. I said my goodbyes and tried hard not to cry. Crying wasn't going to give anything to this poor boy.
My shoes got a scrub with paper towels before I went back to work. As I scrubbed, I thought about all that I had just gone through with them. They had become power shoes.
See, in my prayer to God, I had asked for help to get through a tough time. God answered my prayer when I became a catalyst in someone else's life. I felt God's presence as an active force in my life. As I was giving aid and comfort to an unfortunate child, I stopped dwelling on my situation, my fears, my worries. Me. Me! ME! God guided me through a test which seemed crazy and still seems crazy to this day. But, I did it. I was there and I can testify that God was there too.
I never saw the little boy again. I think of him. I thought of him today when I once again put on the shoes and drove once again to another music program. I pray for him. Please pray for him too.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Belated Happiness

Holidays are difficult because there is that expectation that you'll be happy.

Happy Mother's Day.

Well, it wasn't happy.

The photos of his ex-wife and his kids showed up and I simply couldn't shake it off me. My mother came over and all I really wanted to talk about was the mess I was in. Could I live in her basement if I had to?
Today is a different day. It isn't Mother's Day, but I am still a mother. And maybe I can take a moment from the craziness and thank Allah for being a mother.
In Islam, we touch each finger with our thumb three times; once for every joint and give praise to Allah. That way, when you've done all your joints it's 33 praises. Do it three times over and you've praised Allah 99 times.99 is an important number in Islam as Allah has 99 names. Each name talks about an aspect of His greatness.
The whole process can be done on prayer beads, like a rosary, but I prefer my fingers. There is some thought that the limbering your fingers in such a way coud help prevent arthritis. For me, I adhere to the thought that upon death our whole body will testify for us how we lived. Our fingers will actually show Allah how we praised Him daily. I know for sure my knees will be callused from prayer.Even in times of stress or hardship, it is good to stop and think, "What is there that I have to be thankful for?"So, in the interest of remembering the good and celebrating every day as a mother, here are:

99 Things I am Thankful for as a Mother

  1. Alhumdulillah, I rolled the dice and got a healthy kid.
  2. Alhumdulillah, I like the smell of his poop.
  3. Alhumdulillah, he's fun to watch as he eats Cheerios.
  4. Alhumdulillah, if I open my mouth, he feeds me.
  5. Alhumdulillah, he fed me again even after I bit him
  6. Alhumdulillah, his skin is the most beautiful brown I have ever seen.
  7. Alhumdulillah, in this often hopeless world, I am able to pin hopes on his future.
  8. Alhumdulillah, he has rhythm and bounces to every commercial jingle.
  9. Alhumdulillah, he loves to nurse.
  10. Alhumdulillah, he loves any round object that reminds him of an areola.
  11. Alhumdulillah, when he smiles at me, I smile back from my heart
  12. Alhumdulillah, he still listens when I sternly say, "HEY!"
  13. Alhumdulillah, he knows how to turn the pages of a board book.
  14. Alhumdulillah, he knows what I mean when I say, "Runaway Bunny".
  15. Alhumdulillah, I can make him clap for anything like an instance approving audience.
  16. Alhumdulillah, he seems to be learning some African language with tongue clicks.
  17. Alhumdulillah, he tries his best to say, "La illaha il Allah".
  18. Alhumdulillah, he didn't let the bigger toddler grab his toy at the La Leche meeting.
  19. Alhumdulillah, his butt is so cute
  20. Alhumdulillah, his hair doesn't look exactly like mine or his dad's so I know it's a blending of our DNA
  21. Alhumdulillah, his ancestors both designed the pyramids and made it through the potato famine
  22. Alhumdulillah, somehow, while I've been writing this, he's managed to get his pants off again.
  23. Alhumdulillah, he doesn't care.
  24. Alhumdulillah, he loves his reflection and I don't think he sees anything wrong
  25. Alhumdulillah, he blows a mean raspberry
  26. Alhumdulillah, I don't have to find the little objects on the floor; he'll find them for me first
  27. Alhumdulillah, he lets me take the foreign objects out of his mouth
  28. Alhumdulillah, he fits on my hip perfectly
  29. Alhumdulillah, his calmness in the sling inspires other parents to wear their babies.
  30. Alhumdulillah, he tries to escape
  31. Alhumdulillah, he crawls faster and laughs at me when he knows I'm after him
  32. Alhumdulillah, he knows how to climb stairs
  33. Alhumdulillah, his toes stink like apricot jam
  34. Alhumdulillah, he doesn't know about child abuse or neglect
  35. Alhumdulillah, he sleeps next to me every night even if his dad falls asleep on the couch.
  36. Alhumdulillah, Kevin Federline isn't his dad.
  37. Alhumdulillah, he loves his dad
  38. Alhumdulillah, he makes me love his dad
  39. Alhumdulillah, he loves water and doesn't cry in the shower.
  40. Alhumdulillah, he doesn't criticize
  41. Alhumdulillah, his teeth look like little pearls
  42. Alhumdulillah, I'm never tired of looking at the shape of his eyes
  43. Alhumdulillah, his eyebrows aren't aesthetically appealing to Americans
  44. Alhumdulillah, having him makes me try harder in all aspects of my life
  45. Alhumdulillah, when I don't know what to do, I think of what he would want his mom to do
  46. Alhumdulillah, European-Americans don't think he's a terrorist...yet.
  47. Alhumdulillah, he doesn't need a green card
  48. Alhumdulillah, he's already got a girlfriend
  49. Alhumdulillah, his bellybutton will always remind me that we were connected
  50. Alhumdulillah, he's mischievous
  51. Alhumdulillah, he's a boy and I wanted him to be a boy
  52. Alhumdulillah, he was made out of pure love
  53. Alhumdulillah, he survived a car accident when I was pregnant
  54. Alhumdulillah, he has helped me survive these past months
  55. Alhumdulillah, he amazes me with his being
  56. Alhumdulillah, when he sleeps on my chest I can imagine him in utero again
  57. Alhumdulillah, I hated many, many times during the pregnancy but I loved it all
  58. Alhumdulillah, I gave birth to him naturally without any pain medication or induction
  59. Alhumdulillah, when I was in labor I really felt like I was surfing the pain
  60. Alhumdulillah, he can go anywhere and do anything with me
  61. Alhumdulillah, as long as I'm with him, he feels safe
  62. Alhumdulillah, as long as he's with me, I feel loved
  63. Alhumdulillah, he's growing every single second
  64. Alhumdulillah, I'm home with him while he is growing
  65. Alhumdulillah, he knows that I'm trying my best
  66. Alhumdulillah, I'm not able to write more than one of these before I have to jump up and rescue him
  67. Alhumdulillah, he knows I'm rescuing him
  68. Alhumdulillah, I can't be mad at him
  69. Alhumdulillah, he's the most beautiful thing I've ever seen
  70. Alhumdulillah, he likes lots of other people, but he loves me
  71. Alhumdulillah, I love to watch him walk from furniture to furniture hanging on
  72. Alhumdulillah, he loves anything he finds
  73. Alhumdulillah, he laughs at "The Grand Old Duke of York" song
  74. Alhumdulillah, he still likes "This Little Piggie," even though his dad wanted to stop all pork references
  75. Alhumdulillah, he makes me clean better (acknowledged after I fished a dust bunny out of his mouth)
  76. Alhumdulillah, he feels secure if my hair is in his mouth.
  77. Alhumdulillah, he's got the cutest mouth
  78. Alhumdulillah, the backyard swing cost $3.00 and it made him so happy
  79. Alhumdulillah, he doesn't mind that everything I buy for him is used
  80. Alhumdulillah, he is demanding for my attention and in no way autistic
  81. Alhumdulillah, he actually talks to my mom on the phone
  82. Alhumdulillah, he reminds my mom that my husband isn't all bad
  83. Alhumdulillah, he is photogenic
  84. Alhumdulillah, he is Muslim
  85. Alhumdulillah, won't have to wonder which religion he is
  86. Alhumdulillah, he will be a bridge between Christians and Muslims
  87. Alhumdulillah, he farts and burps with abandon
  88. Alhumdulillah, he doesn't know how to pull off the velcro tabs on his diaper wraps
  89. Alhumdulillah, he likes to snort in and out when he has boogers in his nose
  90. Alhumdulillah, he chortles in excitement
  91. Alhumdulillah, simple things excite him
  92. Alhumdulillah, I remember, through him, how to find wonder in everyday things
  93. Alhumdulillah, as his mother, I have greater empathy for others
  94. Alhumdulillah, a kiss and a hug solve most problems
  95. Alhumdulillah, he wants me every second of every day
  96. Alhumdulillah, he thinks I'm funny
  97. Alhumdulillah, he is funny
  98. Alhumdulillah, because of him I yearn for more of what Allah wants
  99. Alhumdulillah, I could write 99 more

Friday, May 12, 2006

Life is What Happens to You

I could not have planned out this life I'm living. I would not have wanted it, but I got it and I'm determined to live it to the fullest.

My beautiful baby is quietly and lovingly playing with his toys on the floor. He is the baby that I couldn't have imagined. I never thought I was going to have him, but there he sits in oblivion of my pre-conceived notions for my life.

"My god is too small," is the phrase that brings me back into the correct framework for living. When I think that I can plan out exactly my "to-do list," for the next day, let alone the next year, I make myself too big and my god too small. Allah, is the God beyond our comprehension, as are all plans from God. Muslims don't doubt God's wisdom and God's reasoning. We don't ask, "why." We say, "thank you," for everything that comes our way.

It is hard to thank God for a divorce. It is the most hated thing that God allows in this world. But it is necessary sometimes.

I know my first marriage needed to end, otherwise I never would have had the freedom to worship as a Muslim. I never would have become the woman I am today. I would never given birth to this joy.

Today, my husband, in this my second marriage, talked to a shiek about his first marriage. He divorced her three times and in Islam three times and you're out. There is no other chance. Allah gives a limit so that the people move on with their lives. But, my husband is so determined to rectify the past that he is willing to go to Egypt's highest religious court and petition for one more chance. He says now that twice he didn't really mean to divorce her. She says now that she had her period two of those times (which some scholars says nullifies a divorce, though it is not the popular opinion). Allah knows best and both need to fear Allah in what they are doing.
They are going to wait to say their spiel until my husband legally divorces me here. That doesn't make sense to me. I would think that it makes more sense to find out first if the two are legal to wed, but it simply can't bother me. If I get financially what I need, then bring it on. I'll sign. I'll still be in love with my husband. I'll still be sad that he's doing this thing, but I'll go ahead. And I'll stay his wife Islamically.

The legal divorce from me takes money and it takes time. We have very little money and I can't see when that is changing. My husband wants to stay in the U.S. with me and the baby until it is finalized. Then, he would leave for Egypt, to be with his ex and his kids and he would try to rekindle whatever is still there.

I do find it interesting that his children have been led to believe their parents are still married. There was no divorce. There is no me. There is no brother. Those who don't live in the truth are not close to Allah.

I do want to be with Allah in all things. I want to remember Allah in all that I'm doing and thank Allah for everything that happens. This "Dear Abby" essay is a great analogy for how I want to live life.


by Emily Perl Kingsley

[Life is] like planning a fabulous vacation trip -- to Italy. You buy a bunch of guidebooks and make your wonderful plans. The Coliseum. Michelangelo's "David." The gondolas in Venice. You may learn some handy phrases in Italian. It's all very exciting.

After months of eager anticipation, the day finally arrives. You pack your bags and off you go. Several hours later, the plane lands. The flight attendant comes and says, "Welcome to Holland."
"Holland?!" you say. "What do you mean, Holland? I signed up for Italy! I'm supposed to be in Italy. All my life I've dreamed of going to Italy."

But there's been a change in the flight plan. They've landed in Holland and there you must stay.The important thing is that they haven't taken you to a horrible, disgusting, filthy place full of pestilence, famine and disease. It's just a different place.

So you must go out and buy new guidebooks. You must learn a whole new language. And you will meet a whole new group of people you would never have met.

It's just a different place. It's slower-paced than Italy, less flashy than Italy. But after you've been there for a while and you catch your breath, you look around, and you begin to notice that Holland has windmills, Holland has tulips, Holland even has Rembrandts.

But everyone you know is busy coming and going from Italy, and they're all bragging about what a wonderful time they had there. And for the rest of your life, you will say, "Yes, that's where I was supposed to go. That's what I had planned."

And the pain of that will never, ever, ever go away, because the loss of that dream is a very significant loss.

But if you spend your life mourning the fact that you didn't get to Italy, you may never be free to enjoy the very special, the very lovely things about Holland.