Faris’s mom died Saturday.
They buried her two days ago and I wasn’t there to say goodbye. They took her back up the mountain they call home in northern Iraq and laid her to rest in a place full of her greatest joys—and her greatest sorrow: being chased from her home by ISIS three years ago.
It’s hard to envision the house, the tea, the children without their grandmother, the matriarch who exhibited welcome and hospitality to all who crossed their threshold. Who will hold the babies when they need so much love? Who will cuddle the toddlers with kisses and tickles?
I met her over two years ago when she was trying to regulate her blood sugar, after almost a year of not being able to afford her medications. Her family was doing its best, but when you live in an abandoned building on the side of the road because all you have was stolen by war, food for everyone takes priority over medicine for one.
Over the years, I watched as her sight declined from the irreversible damage. When her family learned to make soap, they were able to pay for her eye surgery and medications. But she couldn’t make up for the health that was stolen by circumstance.
Her hospitality will outlive her. She knew me even after she couldn’t see me. Even when she didn’t know what was in my hands. She welcomed me at the sound of my car and my voice. Always meeting me at the door. Always loving me, sitting with me, eating with me, patting my back and bestowing kisses with abandon.
It’s amazing this thing called preemptive love. It’s so far beyond handouts and drop offs. It takes all of ourselves and turns strangers into family, when we step across the threshold. I am forever changed by her love and hospitality. As I mourn her passing, I am grateful for all she taught me about love and life in the midst of great suffering.
Pray with us for Faris and his family as they say goodbye.
Read more about Faris’s family here.
Note: This post originally appeared on Jessica Courtney’s Instagram account. Follow Jessica here.