Okay, I’ll admit, I have mixed feelings about Valentine’s Day. Like many, I’m not a fan of the commercialization of love. I do, however, feel that a reminder to reflect on the importance of love in our lives, is not a bad thing. I’ve had intensive opportunities to reflect on love over the past few years. I was driven to fight for FREEDOM for Josh Fattal by love. Love for him, love for justice, love for truth.
Whenever my faith in justice, my faith in truth, faltered, I turned to this quote from Gandhi:
"Truth triumphs over untruth. Love conquers hatred.”
It reminded me of my deeply held belief. It kept me fighting towards our goal, no matter what curve balls were thrown our way. No matter what hatred was thrown our way – by the Iranian regime and their agents, and more shockingly by members of the general public. Even when dealing with the Iranian regime, love did conquer hatred. Truth did triumph over untruth.
My pain associated with the loss and fear of loss of Josh, though excruciating, connected me more deeply to the love behind that pain. We so often realize how much love we feel when we lose someone or are at risk of losing him or her. I did lose the ability to communicate with Josh in any way whatsoever for 2 years and 2 months. In this world of telecommunications where we can communicate instantly and simultaneously by text, email, phone, video, Facebook, twitter, etc., being completely cut off from someone I was with all day every day for months beforehand, was like losing a part of myself.
Now that he’s free, my heart, that broke a little bit more every day of his captivity, is slowly mending, and rejoicing in his FREEDOM, his LIFE. My heart is gradually growing as I absorb the FREEDOM of Josh, Shane, Sarah and all of us whose hearts were held captive with them.
But as I try to recover and reconnect with my loved ones and my life outside of FREEDOM fighting, I’m facing other losses – the loss of the intensely close Free the Hikers family that formed to FREE Sarah, Shane and Josh, the loss of Alex, the other half of my campaign-self, and the loss of the Josh I lived with and the me that lived with him. Josh and I are now separated by living for 2 years and 2 months with an impenetrable wall between us, and by thousands of miles.
As all of us in the extended Free the Hikers family are going through major lifelong transformations, I’m also faced with other unexpected losses. There are big changes in my immediate family that affect us all. And the father of two of my oldest friends is dying. It is so difficult for me to absorb that, let alone write that. My father left my brothers, our mother, and me when I was a child. My friends’ father is like a father to me. He consistently expresses great pride in my accomplishments, and glows with pride at my Free the Hikers accomplishments and my ongoing Human Rights work.
Knowing that someone you love is in physical and/or emotional pain and not being able to do anything about it is excruciating. Dealing with losing them on top of that is unbearable. The next hardest thing is sharing the pain with the people closest to them. Those were the hardest parts of the Iranian regime holding Josh hostage. They are the hardest parts of Cam’s suffering.
Knowing that Alex was suffering indescribable pain during Josh’s captivity, pain that I could not alleviate, was almost impossible for me to bear. And now I’m watching two of my closest and oldest friends deal with the threat of losing their beloved father, while I too am faced with his loss.
I can’t prevent his loss so it’s extremely difficult to know how to help him and how to help his family. Like my experience on my journey to FREE Josh, Shane and Sarah, I know that being there for the journey, in whatever way I can be, is the most precious gift of all. That is love. Being given and received.
May you all give and receive love today, and every day.
Put a little love in your heart.