Mohamed returns today. He decided it was too much of a hassle to change his plane ticket. Even though this was a short separation, and for the best of reasons, I still feel his absence most acutely.
A couple of nights I spoke to my mom for the second time since she'd returned from the Philippines last week. She's still not sure if she will move there permanently like my dad wants to. I hope she doesn't. One of the reasons we returned to the US was so that I could spend more time with her. Every year on home leave I see her for a week or so but obviously it's not a lot. I miss her very much. I don't know if I could ever adequately express how much I love her.
I've been thinking a lot about my sister-in-law recently too. I'm an only, so the concept of having a sister of any sort is a novelty. She and I are the same age and she and Mohamed are very close. Even though we don't speak the same language I always feel her concern for me. We have little in common. She is illiterate, has not ventured far from her village, and has already been married twice. On my last visit - when their mother had passed away - she was fascinated by how much time I spent reading. Mainly because I was so generally useless (me, the so-called the gender specialist). I don't think anyone in their family had seen anyone with as much leisure time as I did, and I filled it with reading. I realized that she was envious of me to some degree, because I didn't have the same constraints as she did, and so many more opportunities. One evening she took a piece of paper and a pencil and showed me what she could write. She carefully and laboriously printed out her name for me. In Arabic, so I was the one who was illiterate. But I could appreciate her effort just the same.