By Lij Teodrose Fikremariam
Source: Ghion Journal
Life only makes sense in reverse. This most sage observation was once made by my older sister Rahel as we were talking about the way everything works out as it should after going through moments of tribulation. We think we know it all until we know nothing at all only to start over at zero and go through the next learning curve. We grow as we grow; life is nothing but an iterative process of gaining wisdom.
Two days ago, I had yet another “aha moment” and it finally dawned on me that what I have been doing for the past two years was actually the wrong approach. This epiphany came upon me as I was jogging on the treadmill while listening to music on YouTube. “Forever Young”, a song by Beyonce and Jay-Z, came on and I braced myself to watch another manifesto of glitz and glamour sans meaning and substance.
To my great surprise, what came on instead was a very touching video of “hip-hop’s first couple” as they sang about their own growth process while a video compilation in the background showed their progression from dating to marriage to having their first child. This is the reason I love music, songs and melodies are universal languages that can be understood by all without regard to the dialects, borders, flags and the endless stream of barriers that separate us from one another.
There is a reason that this video touched me so much. Last Sunday, I visited my mom and we talked about my memories of Ethiopia and the struggles we experienced adjusting to a life of hardship in America. My mom told me how she met my dad Fikremariam and she showed me pictures of him wearing the Ethiopian Navy uniform, pictures of my her and dad when she gave birth to my sister Martha and the process they went through as they raised my siblings and me.
The last picture of my dad looking gaunt beset by lung cancer is the one that punched me in the gut. The image of him as a 21 year old in the Navy compared to the look of pain he wore during the last months of his life was a shock to my system. Instantly, upon seeing his face and looking into my dad’s eyes, my tear ducts opened up like Hoover dam and all the sorrows I suppressed came flooding out. Scars never heal, they just fade over time but can be torn open at any time.
The reason I was so moved by Beyonce and Jay-Z’s video is because their music mixed with the message of their life narratives reminded me of my mom and dad. At that exact moment, I realized that they were no different than my mom and…