A Letter to My Daughter

Light of My Eye
Although you're not here yet, I wish you a life of enchantment... filled with dreams to chase and destinations to reach.
I love you before you're born for you're a part of me. I want to protect, to teach and to learn from you what life and love are all about. You, who are more precious to me than myself.
Your Dad, 11:15 am - Saturday, October 1st, 1989
~Written 10 minutes before Diana was born.

Habibati Diana

A more traditional man would've waited for his daughter's wedding to write and post his letter to her. But you've just graduated from college, and you know damn well that there's nothing more important to me than this. After five grueling years, of which fifteen months were wrought in anguish every time you traveled back and forth, you're finally a pharmacist. I know more jokes about pharmacists than you care to hear but I should tell you this at least, becoming the father of one gave me wings and lifted me to the top of the world.

We were both, you and I, born in a culture which abridges the life of a woman, her successes or failures, her happiness or distress, even her being or non-being down to her luck with a husband. I couldn't even substitute the word luck with choice because unfortunately the mass majority of us don't have a say in that regard. People get married because it's the "right” time and the “right” thing to do. Even when a couple are deeply in love, marriage is not a matter of choice for most but rather a preordained destiny. Oh, don't get me wrong! I'm not against the institution of marriage. I am, however, against considering your matrimony as your biggest achievement, if it's an achievement at all. I want to be there with you to celebrate whatever makes you happy, but you've already made me the happiest I can be.

You are blessed with a loving family, a mother whom altruistic love never faltered, a sister and a brother who look up at you as their hero and role model, and a grandfather who went out of his way to support you when I couldn't. And of course you have me, a father who's supposedly good with words but who doesn't express himself often enough. If I ever wanted to have a lasting impression on you, it would simply be that I gave you what is already yours, choice.

Life is all about making choices. I didn't say the right choices because I've learned from experience that there is no right or wrong momentary decision. Whichever course we chart and navigate we'll have to make an infinite number of small corrections or we'd end up stranded high and dry in a sandbank or, even worse, wrecked on a treacherous reef. With your college education, you don't have to worry much about your future career. Your degree is in demand wherever you may end up, which brings me to my next piece of advice. When you do make your choices err on the selfish side. Don't let either your attachment to a place, even if it's the only home you've ever known, or your affection to a man, even if he's the only person you've ever loved, supersede your autonomy. Home and love are the most basic of human needs but don't allow them to rob you of your inbred freedom.

I had a great teacher who barely taught me anything, or so I thought, when I was young and green. I hope I was that kind of a father to you. I have no delusions of being perfect but I know that I raised you up to be a proud woman. Look at everyone as equal until they prove you wrong with their folly. Those who remain, are your friends. All I ever dreamed of is to be one of them. Way to go Diana, I love you.


KJ said…
I wonder what my parents have felt when I finished my degree.

I hope they can attend my graduation when I am done with my masters.
Anonymous said…
way to go Diana !! congratulations and all the very best.
Great advice Abufares.
Abu Abdo
Gabriela said…
I'm in a rush, but I promise I'll read this with all the peace and quiet these beautiful words deserve.
Sean L said…
Beautiful post! 'Supposedly good with words'? Far better than most of us will ever be, *and* in a second language. I hope one day to be even a fraction as eloquent in Arabic as you are in English...

Massive congratulations to Diana - warmly wishing her all the best for the future.
Gabriela said…
I made the time to read this post. Anything that was put behind for me to have this moment becomes nonsense after reading such beautiful words.
I think the most tender love there is in life is the love a man has for his daughter. Maybe I'm talking from the sense of loss I've lived in since my dad died when I was 8.
I think all your three children are lucky to have a father like you, Abufares. One who ties his children with silk chains: flexible so they can find their own path, but strong enough to pull them back whenever they need to.
BIL said…
Those words of advice are right on, and I am so happy for Diana as I have said already in another forum. If only I had the quantum of your words things could be so much easier to express (and that in my primary language). Tell Diana that she did in fact accomplish a wonderful achievement and to be very proud of that just as her whole family is.
Hebe said…
Beautiful sentiments from a loving father. She is lucky to have you, and you are blessed to have her. Perfect balance, I say.

I feel the same about my daughters.

Sigh... Life can be so damn good in the middle of so much shit. These wonderful moments pass to remind us that it is still worth it!

Anonymous said…
Congrats neighbor:
Finally some good news from that part of the world.
Mabrook d to Diana, I will remind myself to ask you for halwan.
Anonymous said…
alf mabrook 3leha, you know it's pretty cool she finished her degree at 23 years old. It goes to show Canada just makes us grannies before we become pharmacists :P

This is beautifully written and you sound like a cool open minded father. Oh, I 100% agree with you, marriage is definitely not an achievement. It's a regular milestone, more special than a birthday I guess. But children, inshallah, definitely!
Liz said…
This so touching! Congradulations to your daughter. May she fly free as an eagle. Love and peace to both you..
Abufares said…
Not everyone expresses himself with the written word. As a matter of fact it might not be the best way to do so but this is all I know. I'm sure your parents were very proud and still are.
Don't let it get to your head though. Get off your ass and go for it. Life is for grabs, only if we know where the "handles" are ;-)
Abufares said…
@Abu Abdo
Thank you dear friend. 3a2bal yours. It's a load off a parent's shoulders. Not that it's smooth cruising for a kid fresh from college but it's their first, and probably one of the most important, milestones.
Abufares said…
Thank you Sean for your kind words. I have to feign modesty for my letter to have a more poignant effect on my daughter, lolll. Nevertheless, I hope that one day you'll get to master your Arabic the way you'd like, although I know you've done rather well over the years of travel in the region.
Abufares said…
When I'm done writing a post I reach for your comment and throw it over my shoulders like a warm blanket woven with words of comfort.
I'm sorry about your father. I realize that we're all going to die eventually but to lose your daddy at such an early age is too much too bear. Look at you though! He must've done a great job in those short, yet beautiful 8 years. I bet he continues to live on inside you for as long as you, yourself, shall live.
Over the years I've become more convinced that good parenting is like good government: the less the better. I'm not an advocate of Laissez-faire economics but rather of insuring no one infringes on personal liberties. I tried that with my children and I hope I was able to counter-balance, or to slightly upset, the heavy burden of guilt infused in every thread of our culture. I think we have some tremendous social advantages over many other parts of the world. They do, however, come at a very steep price. Emotional, sexual, political and most importantly creative repression.
Abufares said…
Thank you for always being there. Diana was thrilled to read your comment. She too sends you her best wishes and regards. Looking forward the day when we all can sit together around one table ;-)
Abufares said…
Those damn good wonderful moments are what make life worth living in a sea of shit :-)
I often wonder how marvelous all manifestations of evolution are. Happiness is scarce because if it were overly abundant it would've not been able to survive. Its value lies in its brevity and we humans have learned to foster it in bursts of radiant brilliance. Sorry, I didn't mean to be overly philosophical but you know what I mean :-)
Abufares said…
Teslam!Hopefully good news will follow too. It might feel long and foreboding but dawn inevitably clears the darkest of nights.
Be well :-)
Abufares said…
@perfectly imperfect
Canada!!! You live to a different beat than the rest of the world. Even your neighbors to the south can't keep up (or down) with you, LOL!!!
To be totally honest my kids think I am more eccentric than cool. I'm not a sharp dresser and I'm balding irreversibly.
Marriage is more special than a birthday, lmao. Yeah I guess, unless as an average Canadian woman you want to marry over 80 times :-D Whether you are born Canadian or not you are all so very funny. It must be the long winters.
You're cool! Or more fitting: You're warm!
Abufares said…
Thank you babe! Remember Steve Miller's Fly Like an Eagle??? It was big back then :-)
I want to fly like an eagle
To the sea
Fly like an eagle
Let my spirit carry me
I want to fly like an eagle
Till I'm free
Fly through the revolution
Isobel said…
Two beautiful letters, Abufares.

Congratulations to you and to your daughter. This is, indeed, a most important achievement.
Abufares said…
Shoukran A'abal yalli endek :-)
Let me know if a translation is needed!
Abdul said…
Congrats to Diana!
I think she has a great father :)
keep up Abu Fares!
Abufares said…
Thank you Doc! I really appreciate it. And, thank you also for your great help :-)
Unknown said…
What a great letter! I especially loved this line "Home and love are the most basic of human needs but don't allow them to rob you of your inbred freedom." This is something I need to remind myself of every once in a while.

Mabrouk once again Abufares..
Maya said…
Congratulations and thanks for such a heartfelt post... you had me in tears..

Abufares said…
I'm glad you liked it my friend and that you appreciated what I think is the essence of my message to Diana. We all need to remember the text you quoted, including I, who's giving the advice.
Abufares said…
Tears carried on the wings of a smile from the heart, I hope :-)
Glad you came!
Joseph said…
Yes. Way to go Diana. Once again congratulations to all the family, Abufares. And, especially to Diana. My apologies for the late drop in.
My coordinates are ever so messed up! One thing lead to another and I got completely absorbed by a gigantic sponge :-).
It was however, lifting, the wisdom of your words. I am certain, having a father and friend as such, Diana, is well equipped to lead a beautiful future.
Abufares said…
You're fashionably late :-)
Thank you my friend. May you enjoy the day when Pia stands on the podium during her graduation ceremony. I'd love to see you then!!!
Congrats to Diana. And congrats to you. Having lost my father too soon, these are the words that can sustain a child in life, and you had the courage to not only put them to "paper" but share that with the world. Beautiful words. Choice is indeed freedom .
Abufares said…
I told my kids, more than once actually, that of all the things I gave them, or failed to give, they should value the freedom to choose the most. I'm there to shed a light or lend a hand in the beginning of their long travel through life, but it's a lonely journey.
"I came to this world alone, and alone I shall leave."
Thank you for dropping by :-)

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