Why I Write: A Spoken Word Piece
TOMORROW MARKS ONE YEAR SINCE BABA’S TRANSITION TO ANOTHER LIFE.
It's so mind-blowing to think that, exactly a year ago today, I was unknowingly spending my last moments with the love of my life. Honestly, looking back, I wouldn't change that fact if I could: I'm glad that I didn't know he would leave so suddenly. It allows me to look at our final moments peacefully because I was showering him with so, so, so much love. just because.
i always drowned in my devotion for my dad.
Anyone who has ever had an extended conversation with me knows i love Baba. he is quite literally the man of my dreams. I once performed an entire spoken word poem (with him in the audience) talking about how much i adored him. today, i am so eternally thankful that i expressed my love for him as much as i did.
Yet somehow, someway, I spent the past year secretly feeling guilty and remorseful because I felt like I didn't tell him enough.
It makes me emotional even typing these words because I was putting myself through so much unnecessary pain thinking i should have said and done more to show him how i truly felt. looking back though, this is simply untrue. baba definitely knew - he had to.
I wrote a spoken word piece a couple weeks ago while I was on the plane, and this piece helped me identify and work through some of the pain and unresolved emotions i was left with in his passing. this poem was groundbreaking for many reasons: I learned so much about who I am, who Baba will always be to me, and why writing is revolutionary. This poem is the rawest, most uncut thing I have ever written, and its performance is even more authentic. the performance helped me step outside of my comfort zone and be the girl i always knew i could be - the girl baba always saw me as.
so, with this blog post, I wanted to try something a bit different, to honor Baba and to honor the legacy he left me with.
BELOW IS THE VIDEO PERFORMANCE, ACCOMPANIED BY THE WRITTEN POEM:
WHY I WRITE
BY RIMA IMAD FADLALLAH
i have so many questions
like “why do i get so emotional on planes”
maybe it’s because flying is time travel
and something about traveling back in time
makes me feel that much closer to you
one day i’ll hop on a plane
and on my ticket
the destination will read
“march 12th, 2017”
and i’ll travel back in time
to our last day together
and ask you all of these questions
i have so many questions.
like did you know i came back to you?
for you, specifically.
i said it was for me but i think we both knew
i came back for you
Baba, i need to know that you knew.
I have so many questions
like, did you know i learned to love myself for you?
you loved me more than i loved me
you saw me like i couldn’t see myself.
to this day i don’t understand
how they try to tell me your heart failed
at my worst,
your heart changed my heart.
your love saved my life Baba
coming back for you
was the least i could do.
I am dying to know if you knew.
planes make me emotional
because my only conception of heaven
is somewhere in the clouds
swimming in skies i’ve never seen
maybe I’m emotional because
flying makes me feel
so close yet so far away
even though that’s how i feel all the time now
it’s because i used to be terrified of planes
my fear of flying disappeared
right around the time you took off
and maybe that’s because your love is the wind
beneath these wings
and the peace that has infiltrated even my most irrational fears
your presence always made me feel so safe.
but even in your absence, my angel, you send prayer after prayer to protect me
it’s because i imagine that time
when you were flying solo
across the mediterranean
and i gave you those letters.
and the envelope said
“don’t open until on airplane”
i had so much to say but somehow
I kept it down to eight pages.
maybe it’s because i imagine
you a passenger in this very seat processing
the pieces of my heart that i positioned perfectly
on those pages for you
resisting all urges to let my heart spill open and drown you in its love
because you didn’t know how to swim Baba
and i promised you years ago
in another life
in another poem
that i would make that trip across the ocean
to meet you where you were at.
so i did just that.
I positioned purposefully the pieces of my heart on paper for you.
I left them in your possession
and told you to process them on a plane.
how my heart must have changed your heart
because when you landed,
you called to tell me that
you cried from detroit to beirut
you created your very own sea of tears and you learned to swim in it
and I cried too
I couldn’t have been more proud of you
and of me
especially when i realized years later that
you kept those letters with you since
until that one time when
I hurt you
like first born daughters often do
and you threw them back at me
and you said
they didn’t mean anything to you
and my heart didn’t know how to feel
because it was then when i realized that
my words mean everything
so i rushed upstairs crying and hid the letters in a safe place
determined to give them back to you
when the time was right
when i made my way back home to you
did you know i would always come back home to you?
maybe I’m so emotional
because i finally came back home to you
this time for good
and though i feel like you knew
I wanted to seal the deal
by giving you your letters
But little did i know i came back home
Right in time for you to go
Little did i know that i wanted to give you back my heart
Right around the time yours stopped beating
And after beating myself up for the past year about it,
i realize now that i needed those letters with me more than you did.
I needed evidence of my everlasting expressions of love for you
because if I’m honest
the thing i most regret is that
I never asked you if you knew.
I had so many questions but
i never did muster up the strength to ask why you cried when you read them
because i bawl even thinking about it Baba
i have always melted in your presence
so can you imagine what I’m doing in your absence?
and to this day
i wonder if you ever knew
If i ever knew
that the reason i write
is because, in front of you
the words never did come out right
at least not without the flood of tears that
would surely drown you in their deepest devotion
and you needed to learn to swim on your own time Baba
it is any father’s least favorite sight
to see his daughter cry
and Baba you were my Superman
But the only times i ever saw you weak
were when you saw me weep
but it all makes sense now
you and me?
we were interchangeably
Clark Kent and kryptonite
and this heroic exchange of surrender and strength
is precisely why i write.
I truly hope you enjoyed reading the poem and watching the performance.
I am honestly so proud of myself for getting past the mental barriers standing in my way and pushing myself to publish something so personal and vulnerable. Tomorrow will mark one year since baba's passing. I plan to spend the day with my family and feel every single thing i am meant to feel.
& MY LOVE, REGARDLESS WHAT YOU'RE GOING THROUGH, I HOPE MY VULNERABILITY ENCOURAGES YOU TO LET YOURSELF HEAL, TOO.