If you want a good friend, then you must be one yourself. That phrase always sticks in my mind when I remember my best friend Omar.
Omar and I have been friends for over twenty years. We have done everything together since the day Omar moved to Jerusalem with his family. Omar was only eight back then and full of stories. I especially liked the one about how women mysteriously grew babies in their stomach six month after they get married. Two years after that, we became best friends when Omar showed me one of his fathers adult magazines. We thought that women were really weird back then. We still share that secret to this day.
Our friendship became much stronger during the Palestinian intifada, or uprising, of the late eighties and early nineties. I will never forget that day in January, of 89. The day when Israeli soldiers shot me as I waited for my sister to finish school in East Jerusalem. A single shot that entered the right side of my head. I remember feeling a sting as the bullet penetrated the skin, seconds before my head exploded in uncontrollable, excruciating pain. My life was never going to be the same after that.
It was rumored twice that I died as I laid in a coma for over two weeks. I later learned that Omar was always there with me as I lay unconscious and unaware of what is taking place in the real world. Omar used to spend his days at school and his nights at my bedside talking and whispering in my ears words of love and encouragement. I can honestly say that I heard what Omar said and it gave me the strength to fight death and beat it.
The first person I saw when I came out of coma was none other than my best friend. I saw tears of joy and love in his eyes as he drew closer and kissed my bandaged head. Dont you dare do that to me again, Muamar. I cant imagine life without you. He said to me in loving compassion.
I soon learned that the bullet had caused a lot of damage to the right side of my head. Which meant that I would be paralyzed in the left side of the body. I could not imagine life without the ability to walk, play, or talk. I was never more depressed in my entire life. How can I live a normal life? Am I useless to my family? What kind of future will a crippled man have? Too many questions with no obvious answers.
I can honestly say that if it were not for Omar I wouldve given up on walking. But Omar would not allow me to have a shred of doubt in regards to my ability to walk. Be a man. Omar had shouted in my face. Dont give up and Allah will help you. And I promise to never leave you fight this alone. I promise not to stop this fight until we walk together and run together like we used to do before.
If I say that I didnt doubt Omar I would be lying. And not only did I doubt him, I doubted my ability to overcome difficulties and above all, I doubted myself. So in the beginning I decided to do what Omar wanted from me for two reasons: I did not want Omar to think that Im weak and I did not want him to be mad at me. So I did what he asked and faked enthusiasm at times just to give Omar a sense of achievement.
I also want to mention the fact that my family members did everything within their power to help me adjust to the hard reality without giving up on me. My father paid for the best care and the best doctors available and my mothers tears stopped only when I was around. My love for my family is unconditional, as is their love for me.
Once I was back home, Omar would come over to my house each morning to help me get out of bed, help me bath, dress me up, and insist on making me my breakfast himself. That did not set well with my family at first because they wanted to be the ones who helped me during these difficult times, But when I insisted on having Omar and they saw the positive influence Omar had on me, they relented.
The first few months of recovery were the hardest. Omar used to take me to a secluded area and walk me for hours every day. I thought repeatedly about giving up on walking and giving up on life, but I could not allow myself to give up on Omar. And then I started to see signs of improvement and that gave me the incentive to work even
harder. Then Omar took my wheelchair, over the protests of my family, and replaced it with crutches. We would take two and three-hour walks everyday and soon I was using only one crutch.
Just after I started using one crutch, my father insisted on sending me to the United States to see a specialist who had heard of me and wanted to try to help me. The specialist helped me a lot, using a new technique that restored 90% of my walking abilities without using crutches. Also in the U.S. I met a young lady, fell in love, and married her. Soon after that I became a citizen and made the U.S. my primary residence.
I called my best friend today, as I do every Sunday at noon, and spoke to Omar for over two hours. We talked about the past and discussed my biannual visit to Jerusalem that is less than two months away. I cant wait to see my best friend, to play and jog with him, and to have a lot of fun, as we always do.
As I look back at the events that took place over ten years ago I begin to understand the true meaning of friendship. Friendship is not a process were the members contribute equally. Rather, it is to love contributing and sacrificing to ensure the happiness of your friend. It is to be happy when your friend is happy and to be sad when he is sad. It is to cry when your friend is in pain and to laugh at his joke even before he finishes saying it. Friendship is what was born between Omar and I from my near death experience. A friendship that will continue forever.
I dont Know.