Two women in a salon setting

Like countless who came before me and others yet to come, I am a Lebanese parent who sends her children away as gifts to the world. More than parents of any other nation, we find ourselves hugging our almost-grown children in airports, wishing them well as they leave us to pursue higher education or career opportunities.

Is it too much to ask to grow old with our children? Are we doomed as a nation to live forever entrapped in this spiral of separation and agony?

I am sharing the letter I left behind when I accompanied my daughter to settle in the United States.

I believe the words will resonate with many of you. I left my Laeticia this letter with a small gift, a necklace, for her to wear as she begins a new chapter in her life far from HOME. (You will find this letter as it was originally written in French beside the English text.)

In a way, the wings of our children are larger than our country and our country is larger than our borders. This is both a blessing and a curse. Our footprints are in every corner of the earth, but this comes at an extremely high price for us, as it did for our parents. Now, I feel what my mother must have felt when I left HOME. Yet, she never told me.

It is what has burdened the heart of every mother in this land since the beginning of time. In fact, the first Lebanese emigrant known to go to America, Antonio Bishallany, arrived in Boston Harbor in 1854. Boston was to become the same destination where I would bring my daughter this fall.

Is this selfless act a choice or an obligation? Since the time of the Phoenicians the success of the Lebanese diaspora was built on the sacrifices of the mothers, the fathers, the sisters, and the brothers left behind. They sent off their brightest and best, not as conquerors, with the sword and destruction, but rather, as traders.

To be honest, I thought I was stronger. I thought because I am busy, because I am engaged in many activities and I am a hard-working mom that her departure would have been easier on me. It turns out that I was very mistaken.

I left a piece of me at Brown University.

September 4, 2019
Providence, Rhode Island
United States

My love Laeticia,

I leave you today and I know that my heart is literally about to explode.

I leave you this little gift, this cross, this big support. Wear it only once you think you are ready. I know that you aren’t there yet, but happiness — especially the joy of searching — has more to do with the journey and less with the destination.

I hope that you have your own encounter with Him, your own experiences with Him, that you come to know Him, and are reborn with Him each day. I hope that He uses you for His projects and the troubles of the world. Try to pray sometimes, not necessarily to tell Him something, but rather to listen.

In my writings for HOME Magazine, I highlighted this phrase in Gabriel Yared’s story: “Ce que nous appelons hasard, c’est peut-être la logique de Dieu” [And what if the coincidence was actually the logic of God?]. Keep your heart and mind open to Him, my eldest daughter. See Him in your encounters and your missions. Remain on the lookout, and never abandon your journey. Your life is a gift to us as much as it is to you, too. Make of it a masterpiece.

Meanwhile, we will carry you in our prayers and take you with us into houses of God so that you stay protected and happy.

In this beautiful journey on which you have just embarked at Brown University, I hope you will grow each day with this exceptional experience and that you and your friends realize that our shared humanity joins us together beneath the same roof, the same concerns, the same search.

You are all brainy, but do not forget your hearts and your spirits. Nourish them generously and as much.

Do everything with divine joy. You are a gift to life itself.
Each new friend you make is also a unique gift.

Cherish your differences, your individuality; do not try to blend in.

Live your lives purposefully.

Leave your authentic and special imprints. Today’s world needs them more than ever.

Your mother,

 

Laeticia, mon coeur,

Je te laisse voler de tes propres ailes aujourd’hui, et je sais que mon coeur va littéralement exploser.

Je te laisse avec ce petit cadeau, cette petite croix, ce grand support.

Porte – le quand tu seras prête. Je sais que tu ne l’es pas encore, mais le bonheur est dans le cheminement et moins dans l’aboutissement, surtout le bonheur de la recherche.

J’espère que tu auras ta propre rencontre avec Lui, ta propre expérience. J’espère que tu Le connaîtras et que tu renaîtras avec Lui chaque jour.

Qu’Il t’utilise pour ses projets et les soucis de ce monde. Essaie des fois de prier, pas nécessairement pour Lui dire quelque chose, mais plutôt pour L’écouter.

J’ai souligné dans mes écritures pour HOME Magazine sur la réflexion citée par Gabriel Yared «Ce que nous appelons hasard, c’est peut-être la logique de Dieu.» Reste à l’écoute ma grande fille. Vois – Le à travers tes rencontres et tes missions. Continue ta quête et ne t’en lasse jamais. Ta vie est un don pour nous, mais un don pour toi aussi, fais-en un chef d’oeuvre.

Entre- temps, nous allons t’emporter dans nos prières, te prendre avec nous dans les lieux saints pour que tu sois protégée et heureuse.

Dans ce beau parcours que tu viens de commencer à l’université de Brown, je souhaite que tu grandisses chaque jour avec cette ouverture exceptionnelle et que tes amis et toi, vous réalisiez ensemble que l’humanité nous réunit tous sous le même toit.

Vous êtes des têtes mais n’oubliez ni votre coeur, ni votre esprit. Nourrissez-les autant.

Faites tout avec une divine joie. Tu es un don à la vie. Chacune de tes nouvelles rencontres l’est aussi par son individualité. N’essayez pas de vous ressembler.

Laissez vos marques authentiques et enrichissez- vous de vos différences. Notre monde d’aujourd’hui en a vraiment besoin.

Ta mère,

 

Patricia Bitar Cherfan

Founder and Editor-in-Chief

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