Dear little sister,
You have been much on my mind the past few days, as you have been on the minds of many others around the world. Today, your parents and your community laid you to rest. It was sunny today, the longest day of the year. They placed you into the earth, where your corporeal shell will become part of it again.
Little sister, I am so sorry that people are using you. You weren’t even buried before people were arguing over your meaning, your legacy and your life. The usual suspects jockeyed to be before the cameras – and there are lots of cameras.
I read today that after iftar, there would be public azza for your parents at the masjid. It’s the longest day of the year and I believe that your mother probably wouldn’t want to look at food come maghrib. I imagine it will be a long time before your parents and sisters feel hungry again.
I’m so sorry, and so angry, that you left this earth in pain and in fear.
Take heart, though, little sister. All over the world, people are seeing your smile, and crying alongside your parents, your sisters and your friends. People from all walks of life extend their condolences, their sorrow, their yearning for justice, and even their money to your family and to the community. People from all over the country watched your janaza today – Muslims, non-Muslims. They had to bring mourners for you in by the bus full – so many hearts you’ve touched, and you never knew.
I hate, so, so much, that you died alone. I wish you could know how many people, when asked, are ready to stand by your memory now. People have come to lift you and your family up. I believe, I want to believe, that they will continue to do so tomorrow… next week… next year. Someone made umrah in your honor; he even shaved his head so that you would get more reward. The same brother has helped raise over $30K in your name, to build wells and a jame’ in your name. Over 1700 people donated, some as little as a dollar. Little sister, you know what meaning water has in so many parts of the world… that children and families may draw life from something built in your honor will be part of your legacy.
Little sister, I read Surah al Mulk and Surah Ya-Sin for you tonight. I might not believe in the words of it anymore, at least not the way you’re supposed to. But if there is barakah in it, then I want you to have it.
You know in Arabic, there is a saying when someone passes:
which means along the lines of “may her life be added to ours.” You know that most Muslims don’t say this. It’s a cultural thing, and even among Arab Muslims, it might be seen as a Christian thing. But as someone who is not a believer in any traditional sense of the word, and as someone seeing how your story is touching and galvanizing people of all faiths or no faith at all, I believe the saying is appropriate. May your life be added to ours. May those who hear your story, those who knew you and loved you, take what is left to them and live it to the fullest, to honor your memory.