My favorite class in highschool was English class, because it was the only creative class my highschool offered, and because it was a writing class more than anything else, and Roba has always loved writing. Throughout the years, we wrote so many essays so varied in content and so different in topic; ranging from love accolades to glue and vampire fiction. In fact, the teachers were so creative with their assignments that in our senior year, we had to pretend that our best friend died and then write a euology to be read in their funeral. Sadistic, eh?
Ahh… best frieds! The worst thing about having grown up in a different country is the fact that the people that I spent most of my life loving have stopped being a part of my life. Yeah, we tried to stay in contact in this age of light, but the inevitable fact is that when everyone is scattered all across the globe with no shared points of interest, it becomes too difficult after a few years to maintain a friendship.
Today is the birthday of one of the few friends who I managed to remain friends with- my childhood/highschool best friend, Nisreen, the person I was forced to write a eulogy for in my senior year. At that time, writing eulogies for one another was horrifying, and the idea of not remaining good friends didn’t make much sense to either of us.
But years pass, and with distance, one comes to realize that although the love might stay, a different form of death is inevitable. The eulogy I wrote back in senior year is below. Too nostalgic for this space, I know. But this is for Nisreen, who I know is reading this and who I haven’t talked to in a long while- happy birthday.
Thank you all for coming during this time of need. Your presence, your sympathy, and your love have been a valuable contribution that has eased the intense pain of loss. God granted us the gift of life: to see and to hear; to smell and to touch; and most importantly to our deceased, to live.
In putting my thoughts together, I try to bring some order from this chaos. I try to find a simple word to make it better, yet I fail. I try to put together all the happy moments I have experienced with the deceased, yet it only leads to even more passionate pain.
During the 18 years of my life, I have not met anyone as in love with this world as Nisreen. In fact, her motto in life was “live for the moment”. She was truly a unique human being, a person who cares about all, and a bright young lady who had an optimistic future. She had such a tolerance of others, she enjoyed people for who they are and not for what she felt they should be, and maybe that’s why she had many friends. She was also extremely proud of her heritage and had the ability to smile through pain and through joy. I have shared such beautiful times with such a beautiful human, and I will cherish these times forever in my soul.
With the years I shared with Nisreen and a plethora of bitter sweet memories, I find myself sinking in this multihued sea of memories of shopping together, ruining the kitchen while trying to cook fettuccini, and pondering the meaning of life. I also find myself drowned by the times she and I held hands while we did the Dabkeh, the cake fights we had in 10th grade, and trying to teach a mutual friend how to ride a bike.
Those of you who have known Nisreen and I for a while know about our massive advancement towards maturity, and how our friendship has influenced one another. In 9th grade, we spat at people, tried to burn the school down, and ditched biology. In 10th grade, we started singing for Palestine with Ghonaim, Amin, Tameemi, and Abu-Sakher, and we had about a 100 parties. In 11th grade, we joined Arabian Sunshine and spent days-on-end practicing our dances in the school hallways and spending 14 hours a day with one another. During our last year, 12th grade, we wrote our graduation speech together and walked as one towards a greater tomorrow as we accepted our diplomas and turned our tassels.
There were days when we couldn’t stand each other, arguing about ungiven tickets and unmeant phrases. During the SAT days that seem so far away, we would sit in class and learn flashcards together, and two years later, we filled each other’s college applications. I cannot think of anything that I did not do with proud Nisreen, wild Nissy, NBO Rene, immature Mini Ninni, angry Nissy Fussy, and Roba ’s Nisreeno.
I will miss her as no one can miss a friend, because, with her charm and wit, she managed to become a part of my soul that will stay with me for as long as I live. Yes, long ago, Nisreen stopped being my friend and became the sister I never had, my partner in life, and an extension of my soul.
By reading this speech to you tonight, I realize that I am placing a seal on something I love so much, and I want to hallmark this seal with something she would have said if she were standing her tonight, “Nothing matters but the moment, there might be no tomorrow, and even there was, nobody gives a damn.”