A Test of Mercy – Part 1

Every once in a while, something happens that alters our lives forever.  It shakes us to our core and affects the rest of the way we live out our life.  Rarely do we ask for such an occurrence, but rather unknowingly bring it upon ourselves through divine intervention.

I’m not a superstitious person by any means.  Black cats, broken mirrors, and walking under ladders don’t phase me.  On the first day of seventh grade, my horoscope read: August will be a month you will always remember. Strange, since it was already September and nothing noteworthy had gone down the month before.  Still every once in a while, I remember that horoscope and the supposedly memorable August.

This past August, August 26 to be exact, is forever engraved in my memory.

It started as a wonderful weekend.  Eid il Fitr was over, yet we were still celebrating and heading to Lake Shasta for a multi-family getaway.  We rented a house boat, a smaller speed boat, and water tube riding contraption.  Everyone was in high spirits and looking forward to a relaxing and fun filled few days.

Our entourage arrived at 1 am to locked gates at the entrance.  Many, many laughs ensued and plenty of memories were made in light of the RV headlights and under the billions of twinkling stars.  Only later would we realize the unsuspecting foreshadowing of these locked gates.

After unpacking a loaded RV, minivan, and SUV, everyone found their room, bed, bunk, or niche and it was lights out at 4 am. The next morning was total breakfast chaos.  Or so I heard, as I was knocked out and woke up to the second half that was much more manageable.

My cousin Amani (my only female first cousin from my mom’s side) and I were the only two moms/wives on board.  Cooking, cleaning, and general mothering for all, fell on our shoulders.  Until we went on strike.  At least one teenage boy learned to make himself eggs that weekend.  His wife will thank me later.

It was a wonderful trip.  Laughter, life advice (you can’t and shouldn’t find your wife on Instagram), jokes, teasing, arguing, forgiving, eating, sleeping, swimming, screaming, reading, tanning, contemplating, laughing, hiking.  So many great things went down.

I somewhat conquered my fear of deep water/lakes by riding on the tube that was pulled by the speed boat.  I was absolutely terrified when I first got into the speedboat.  As it sped over the water, I called on every one of God’s names that I had memorized.  Then my courageous little Maysoon requested to ride in the tube.  I had no choice but to face down my fears and get in the tube with her.  It was exhilarating.  Okay, so maybe we were only going 25 miles an hour, 30 tops.  To see my sweet little girl smiling from ear to ear without a single fear emitting from her radiant face, I knew I would be okay.  In fact, Jenin who was equally as terrified as I was, found the courage to ride after she saw Maysoon.

I ate my very first ever, authentic, the real deal, on a camp fire in the mountains and not in my kitchen from a toaster oven s’more!! It was awful. Whoomp, whoomp.  Short on time before we left for our trip, I asked my husband to bring marshmallows on his way home.  Instead of my favorite brand, he brought home the super sugary, artificial tasting ones from overseas.  Gag.  They absolutely refused to melt over the blazing hot fire we had going.  It was such a let down.  Needless to say I came home with a ton of extra chocolate bars and graham crackers. However, the experience of sitting side by side with my cousin Amani by the roaring fire and with our children and husbands close by, the moon shinning above us, was quite magical.

Sunday was rolling out to be just as lovely and enjoyable as Saturday.  Granted you ignored the one clogged toilet of the only two on board to be shared by 20+ people.  Yikes.  With our luck it turned out to be the “Girls Only” bathroom that we banned any guys, even husbands, from using.

Everyone eased into their activities after breakfast; swimming then lounging, napping then hiking, fishing and more fishing, boating and relaxing.  I managed to get in another outing on the lake in the tube with my girls.  A beautiful boating trip with my husband and girls in the speedboat, soaking in the gorgeous scenery, was another highlight of the trip.

The day began to wind down and everyone was transitioning into their evening lake activities.  Firewood was being collected and the grill was just about to be fired up again.  One final boat ride before sunset was in the works.

An exchange of riders and a swap of life vests.  Maysoon and I were hoping to go along for the ride, but Baby Z needed a feeding and to be put down for her nap. Rami and Jenin were passengers among some other cousins of mine.  I insisted that Amani go since she was mostly stuck on the house boat tending to all of her nieces and nephews.  Even on strike, her heart loves without conditions.

I was sent inside to prepare a meal for a little one when they had rode off in the speedboat.

I never waved goodbye.

To be continued…

Part 2.


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