April 17th 2002
Today, Rashid would have been 14 years old, a teenager, a boy in high school. Often I wonder what he would look like today, which school he would attend, what his favourite things would be now and what he would have wanted to get for his birthday. But like to so many questions, I also do not get any answers to these questions. He will always remain the 8 year old boy that he was when he died, who loved the color blue and liked Action Men figures and ToyStory, who loved pizzas and KitKat chocolates.
Oh, my darling boy, I miss him so much. Not a day goes by that I do not think of him. I take him with me in my heart everywhere I go. And I have a strong feeling that he is here with me to protect me and to help me on my often very difficult road.
It is for the sixth time now since Rashid died that I celebrate his birthday without him and I cannot say that this sixth time is easier than the first time. Until now, very consciously I took a day off from work on Rashid's birthday. Had he lived, I would probably not have done so, but now this 17th of April is his day at which I want to think of him more than on other days. I need it to make this day a special day, not one like any other day of the year, because the day Rashid was born was once a very happy day for me.
In the morning I put on my blue sweater; at home I played some music that had a special meaning for me. Everytime I hear that music I think of Rashid especially. After that I left for the graveyard. At McDonald's I bought a Happy Meal (because Rashid loved to eat a Happy Meal at McDonald's) and at the flower shop I bought blue roses. Very consciously I looked for a present and found a beautiful windchime with dolphins at one of the shops and "armed" with my presents I left for the graveyard. I arranged everything I bought beautifully at Rashid's grave, I cleaned his little place and burnt 14 candles. It wasn't such beautiful weather, but I remained there for an hour or so. I left two KitKat chocolates, one for Rashid, and one for my elder son Karim, because I knew he would come to visit his younger brother later that day after school. I also ate a KitKat chocolate myself. The birds were waiting in the trees nearby to start their "Happy Meal". Usually they also eat the KitKat chocolate. Rashid would have enjoyed it, all those animals around him.
After that, I went home, much more relaxed than in the days before this day, when I was terribly upset and when I also cried a lot. I was calm now. I also missed Karim, with whom I could not share my feelings. He, too, needed his time alone with his brother and would visit Rashid's grave after school.
In the evening I ate pizza with my husband, because Rashid loved pizzas. I did try to call Karim for a moment, but there was a bad connection. That was a pity.
There were no cards to congratulate Rashid on his birthday, no cards to say someone was thinking of me on this day, nog phonecalls. All that is over. Time took away all people. They do not think of my little boy daily like I do. And if they do think of him, they do not let me know.
What touched me very much was a couple of weeks ago, when unexpectedly I met one of the mothers from the primary school Rashid used to attend. We had not seen each other for more than a year or so. We only knew each other because our children attended the same class. Once I handed out a small teddybear with a blue ribbon as a kind of christmas card to remember Rashid by. I gave these bears to only a small number of people who were special to me. When she saw me now in the street she took out the little teddybear from her handbag and showed it to me. She still kept the little bear and had not forgotten Rashid. It was so sweet. I am sure there will be more people like her. Rashid is not forgotten, I am sure. He touched so many people, made deep impressions on them. Only they do not let me know anymore. And to be honest, I do not write or call anybody anymore myself.
On the 16th of April at my work balloons and decorations were hung above the desk of one of my collegues who had her birthday the following day. I hurt me to see the decorations, because I would have loved to decorate the house for Rashid's birthday. Also, I was very upset, because just before that I had been speaking with a client, who was very upset himself, because his girlfriend left him and took his children abroad with her. She did not intend to come back anymore and he missed his children very much. He saw my watch, which contains a small picture of Rashid and said: " You have a child yourself, but you hug and kiss him every night before he goes to sleep." It did not seem appropriate at that moment to tell this man, that I wished I could hug and kiss my boy every night before he goes to sleep, but I could not do so, because my little boy had died. I never tell my clients my own sad story. There is no need for them to know. Maybe I should have told this man my story at that moment. I only thought: "If you only knew...." And I swallowed my tears away. Maybe I should have told him. Maybe it is a good lesson for me if I ever come across a situation like this next time.
Upstairs behind my desk I was having a difficult time, but did not tell anybody. Then, when they started decorating that desk I really started having a bad time. Fortunately for me it was time for me to go home and that was the moment I started to cry. I did not know there were still so many tears left inside of me. That night for the first time I told my husband about the day Rashid died and about the admirable way he said goodbye to us. It is a story I cannot share with other people very well, not yet. It is too upsetting.
And I did congratulate that collegue the day I came back to work and I told a few of my other collegues that it had been Rashid's birthday the day before. At that moment nothing much was said. But a few days later a collegue started to ask me how old Rashid was when he died and how we discovered that he had a braintumor. And I told them Rashid's story for more than an hour. The tears stung my eyes, but I did not want to cry, because I knew I would be too upset for the rest of the day. A collegue, who has two little children himself, told me that he was so touched when he heard Rashid's story.
Rashid's story still touches many people. I get more and more convinced that this story should be told. I have so many diaries and journals. Something must be done with them. It will take much time and energy, but it will have to be made, this monument for Rashid, my brave little boy!