As the country, and indeed, the world, mourns the tragic and unnecessary loss of so many young lives to the Newtown School Massacre, many peace activists and advocates for non-violence around the world are mourning another loss… the loss of a tireless advocate for peace and reconciliation, Mira Dabit.
I was sound asleep in my grandson’s bed when my cell phone woke me on December 15th at 12:30 a.m. Slightly annoyed at being awakened, I answered. It was my partner from Searching for Occupy, Denise Valdez. She was crying. No. She was sobbing. For a few moments, I listened to her crying. Then, she managed to blurt out, “Crystal, I have some bad news…” A pause. A sob. “Mira is dead.”
What? No. I must have heard that wrong. Mira, our Palestinian cohort from Occupy Washington, D.C. and Peace House, was only 27 years old. I just talked to her… what?... two weeks ago? She was excited about her newest endeavor ‘Love Music Hate Racism’. She was bubbling over in a characteristic burst of uninhibited enthusiasm…
Sadly, I did not hear it wrong. Mira, even when she phoned me, had been sick. Apparently, she had gone to the hospital a few times, but the last time she got fed up after four hours of waiting. She was Palestinian so, of course, she had to take her place in the uninsured queue. She left before seeing a doctor. She tried another hospital, but it was private and they refused to see her. Mira died a few hours later.
Tomorrow, my twin grandsons will arrive for the holidays. It will be the first time in their 9 years that I have gotten to host Christmas in my home, and I’ve been planning it for weeks. Since learning of Mira’s death, which coincided with the losses suffered by so many grieving parents in my neighboring state of Connecticut, my giddy spirits have sobered. I can’t turn on the television without hearing parents talking about buying bullet proof backpacks, NRA advocates screaming for guns in schools, Democrats carefully crafting a gun platform that won’t cost them an election… I think of Mira telling me about growing up in Palestine, of having to wear a gas mask to school as a child and how it would get caught in her hair and make her cry… I read emails from my friends who visited Pakistan and met families who had lost children and mothers and sisters and brother to U.S. Drone strikes… I speak with friends who went to Gaza taking medical supplies to the families without clean water or food following the Israeli invasion and come back saying, “The world doesn’t care.”
It is unbearable. I want to scream and shout and cry and MAKE SOMEONE LISTEN… CARE… BELIEVE…
I curl up in a ball on the floor next to my dog, and an image of Mira, always smiling, floats through my consciousness, light as air, soft as a cloud. Instantly, I am calmed. Or, at least calm enough to ask myself ‘what would Mira do?’… Mira, who grew up knowing first hand the terrible realities of oppression in occupied Palestine. Mira who, as she fought ardently for the dignity and rights her people and her country, reached out at every opportunity to Jews and Israelis with an open heart and a fervent belief that ‘we can work through this together’… Mira, who after graduating from university, went to Ireland to work on peace and reconciliation issues there. Mira, who came to ‘occupy’ alongside us in Washington, D.C. with her unquenchable thirst for freedom and justice topped only by her absolute belief that love conquers all hate… I hug my dog tighter and I can hear her voice, clearly, saying, “Just keep going. You can’t stop. You have to just keep going. That’s how it works.”
Please watch the videos I put together from interviews with Mira a year ago in Washington, D.C. She tells her story… and, offers us all a way to go.