Written by Patricia Darwish
My daughter Medina, wrote me this poem, her only way to express her feelings during my treatment that gave me the fuel I needed to continue the battle.
Making of a Queen
She lost it all,
when she had it all;
the love, the money, the beauty.
And now she lays naked,
day in and day out,
saying “what a pity.”
However, there is no pity of such,
but it is so obscene,
that she cannot see the making of a queen.
And I can understand her dilemma,
and I can understand her frustration,
but I do not understand her curse of settling.
This is her life,
a life that is great,
filled with vibrations only felt by those chosen from fate.
But she wants to give up
and not fight for what is hers.
Please mama say you are joking,
for it will kill me to see you live a life like the dead.
So mama hear this from me,
you are not just anyone and you most definitely do not give up.
You are a warrior
and warriors never back down from a fight.
If you want to see me graduate high school;
if you want to see me fall in love and get married;
if you want to love my first child the way you loved me;
if you want to be there with me for every moment that I need you to be;
if you care to do any of these things, you will fight to be with me.
During my treatment, my silence started to unease everyone around me. Everyone thought they had lost me to this disease, but they didn’t realize my mind was in constant deep thought.
I wasn’t in reaction mode anymore because I was in the process of growth. I was facing the biggest challenge of my life and I didn’t want to fail. I came to realize that worrying about where my life would end up was not the objective.
As a child, I dreamed about my future. I planned to go to college, get married, have children, and live in a nice home. I never worried that I would have an illness that could possibly take my life. In my silence I learned about the true meaning of process.
I work with teachers and students – and in that capacity I always stress to teachers that when working with children, it’s not the end result you should be looking at, it’s the process. In my silence, process became my awakening.
I found that during my time of reflection and processing, it wasn’t about how long I was going to live anymore, it was about what I wanted to do in my life that was going to feed my soul. I came to realize that I didn’t want to live with regrets. The kind of regrets you have when you wish you would have done something meaningful and purposeful.
Allah (SWT) gave me a chance to be born again. I had to decide what I wanted in life and how I wanted to live the rest of my life. It wasn’t about the big house, fancy car, and expensive purse. Those things didn’t define me as a person or give me joy in life. I wasn’t about to settle and give up my true dreams regardless of what I was going through. I didn’t want to die and have the ghosts of regrets haunt me.
Although, I spent most of my days in bed because I was tired and weak, I didn’t stop searching for my happiness. The questions I began to ask myself each day was, what made me happy? How can I work on my growth? What was going to spark a light in me – to get me going?
I struggled each day to get up and push myself out of bed. My dad would come over each morning when my mom would leave to go to work. He would sit for hours just waiting for me to wake up. As I would come down the stairs and I would hear him say, “El hamdulilah, Pat’s awake.” Allah (SWT) only knew how heart-breaking that was to me. I was responsible for his pain and I hated myself for that.
Seeing my family saddened only gave me an increased purpose to find joy in life. I was on a mission to put a smile back on my face along with everyone else’s. I couldn’t depend on someone else to make me happy – I had to find my own happiness.
People have many dreams and follow different passions for their own growth and development. I found passion in cooking – it fed my soul. I found myself going through old recipe books to find meals to prep when I was home alone. My routine changed as I began to look forward to waking up each morning.
I would get up with my mother and children as they went off to school and work rather than sleeping in all day. My dad would come over and find me in the kitchen rather than sleeping. I always had a joy in cooking, but this time it was different. I found solace in prepping and cooking meals. I began to find a higher value in myself when I completed a dish. I began to forget I had cancer. The more I cooked, the stronger my mind and body got.
With cooking came motivation. Each day I would write on a piece of paper, I am capable. I declare my own power.
When I began cooking, I took control over my cancer. There was no more room for a pity party. I was going to live my life in joy rather than sorrow. I had experimental dishes to make, to create – mouths to feed, to satisfy. Cooking, with all my soul, gave me back hope. It inspired me when I thought there was nothing left in me.
And through my daughter’s words I reclaimed my throne status as a queen, as a warrior, because “warriors never back down from a fight.”
Patricia Darwish has chronicled her life journey in her fight against cancer. She shares this with you in hopes that she can break down the walls of shame from talking about this disease. It is through her journey that she hopes she is able to reach out to some of you who might be going through the same struggles. Please follow her on Muslim Girl, as we learn to cope with and fight against this thing called cancer ever Friday.