Hey you,

Today should have been your birthday. I can imagine the day. You’d probably have woken up with the distinct cry of a small cherub who wants to be up, NOW! You never were a morning girl, were you? I remember a good few mornings with you at various points over the years, with me bouncing like Tigger on speed, and you blearily requesting me to “stop talking. Now. I love you. But really, now please”…

Then you’d probably have made a pot of fiendishly strong coffee. I could actually sit and sniff at your coffee all day, it smelt so good. Never taste it though I can’t imagine anything worse! You always swore that God drank coffee. If it was anything like yours, it probably explains why He could make the world in 6 days…

I’m not sure what you’d have done for the rest of the day. Hung out with your gorgeous husband. Marked some of your students work – you were always such a dedicated teacher. You passionately believed that adversity was no excuse, and expected your kids to reach for the skies. Because of you, they generally got there. Headed down to the beach, maybe? I know that for an outdoor girl like you, living in Gaza was a challenge. Nowhere to go and nothing to do, when your soul longed to climb mountains, ford rivers, and cycle for miles. So you escaped to the beach, finding some small degree of comfort from paddling your feet in the waves and chasing around after Sara.

We’d probably have skyped at some point. I haven’t seen you in person for far too long, but Skype is such an amazing transcender of boundaries. We’d talk and laugh and giggle. You’d remind me of the idealistic teenager I was when we last saw each other in person – totally believing I could change the world – probably in a fortnight.

I don’t believe that anymore. But you did teach me something really important. You did teach me that I could change my small corner of the world – just by being me. You changed lives yourself. In a very, very dark world, you shone.

I miss you so much. The thoughts of your last moments haunt my dreams, and every time I look at my son, my heart aches to imagine what you went through in those last terrifying moments. You didn’t deserve that. No-one did.

Somehow, the world doesn’t make sense to me without you in it. I can’t work out why it keeps revolving – why things keep going, why the billions of people on the planet haven’t just stopped, in horror, at what has happened.My heart hurts so much sometimes that I’m desperate for the world to freeze, just for one little minute, so I can get my breath back.

But it does go on. It has to.

Oh girl, I love you so much. Thank you for being you. Thank you for being part of my life. I love you. I’ll never stop missing you.

And I promise, just like I promised Mira. I promise this won’t be the end of the story. I promise the fight won’t end here. I promise I’ll keep going, and keep fighting, and keep trying to be the change. If nothing else, for both of you.

You never sat still whilst injustice raged. You never let injustice ruin your capacity to love, love, and love again, until it hurt.

Neither will I. I promise.


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