Gibran Khalil Gibran considered “The Prophet” his greatest achievement. He said: “I think I have never been without “The Prophet” since I first conceived the book back in Mount Lebanon. It seems to have been a part of me. I kept the manuscript four years before I delivered it over to my publisher because I wanted to be sure, I wanted to be very sure, that every word of it was the very best I had to offer.”
I found myself thinking of these words tonight as I finished reading your lovely book of poems about our Samar. I know that you would never pretend to be Gibran. But I think that you probably should take equal pride in your book as he took in his because, simply put, it is the very best that you have to offer. While your book may not become the quintessential masterpiece that his has become, yours will be, to those who know you and knew Samar, as well as those who didn’t, a beautiful tale of a love lost, a child gone forever, a life shattered. A journal of pain. Hopeless, enduring pain.
Tonight, I read your lovely poems in an hour, but I know that they will haunt me for years. I shed tears for our lost Samar, again, but I cried also for your despair and for Ahmad’s pain. Yes, every parent’s nightmare came true in your life, and yes, the sadness and the longing that every parent dreads seem from your poems to be in fact real. They are clearly real in your life, and your tender, loving poems paint a portrait of this endless agony, this longing to see and touch the lost child. To the average reader, the pain is harsh, the feelings so raw. To anyone who knew Samar, and knew her wonderful family, the deep feelings of despair, the sadness, the heavy burden of grief, all are almost too overwhelming to bear. Your book is one I will have with me forever, but one that I may not be able to read again for a long time. It is just too painful, not just because I knew and loved Samar, but because the despair I see in the poems invokes in me such a deep sense of sympathy for the players who must remain on the stage and pick up the pieces of their shattered lives.
You and Ahmad have dealt with your tragedy with admirable courage and dignity. I salute that in you, as I salute your intellectual abilities that have enabled you to find expression for your grief in words which you are willing to share with others. While your book may be dedicated to Samar, it is in fact addressed to all humanity. To all parents. To all humans who acknowledge the basic feelings of love and caring that God has endowed (or cursed?) all of us with. So, be proud of your achievement in publishing this work, and celebrate Samar’s life by sharing it with anyone who will read your book.
And finally, let us turn again to Gibran and let us reflect on his words on Death in “The Prophet”:
“For what is it to die but to stand naked in the wind and to melt in the sun?
“And what is it to cease breathing, but to free the breath from its restless tides, that it may rise and expand and seek God unencumbered?
“Only when you drink from the river of silence shall you indeed sing.
“And when you have reached the mountain top, then you shall begin to climb.
“And when the earth shall claim your limbs, then shall you truly dance.”
With my love and admiration to you and Ahmad and to your family, I am,