Toronto: During my captivity, I sometimes entertained myself by imagining this day. Sometimes I despaired of ever seeing it. Always I ached for it. And so here we are. For 118 days I disappeared into a black hole, and somehow by God’s grace I was spit out again. My head is swirling and there are times when I can hardly believe it’s true. We had to wear flak jackets during our helicopter transport from the International Zone to the Baghdad airport, and I had to keep knocking on the body armour I was wearing to reassure myself that this was all really happening.
It was a terrifying, profound, powerful, transformative, and excruciatingly boring experience. Since my release from captivity, I have been in a constant state of wonder, bewilderment and surprise as I slowly discover the magnitude of the effort to secure our lives and our freedom–Tom Fox, Norman Kember, Harmeet Sooden and myself. A great hand of solidarity reached out for us, a hand that included the hands of Palestinian children holding pictures of us, and the hands of the British soldier who cut our chains with a bolt cutter. That great hand was able to deliver three of us from the shadow of death. I am grateful in a way that can never be adequately expressed in words.
There are so many people that need this hand of solidarity, right now, today, and I’m thinking specifically of prisoners held all over the world, people who have disappeared into an abyss of detention without charge, due process, hope of release– some victims of physical and psychological torture–people unknown and forgotten. It is my deepest wish that every forsaken human being should have a hand of solidarity reaching out to them.
My friend and fellow Canadian in captivity, Harmeet Sooden, showed me something yesterday. Our captors gave us notebooks, and Harmeet opened his notebook to show me two fractions –3/4 and 4/4–that Tom had written. “It was the only thing he wrote in my book,” he said. Tom, who had been a
professional musician, wrote them as part of a lesson in music theory he gave Harmeet –3/4 time, 4/4 time. Harmeet put his finger over the 3/4 and said, “In the beginning we were 4/4.” Then he put his finger over the 4/4 and said, “Now we’re this –3/4.” We are only 3/4. Tom is not coming home with us. I am so sorry, Kassie and Andrew.
People have been asking, “What’s the first thing you’re going to do when you get home?” All I really want to do is to love, and be loved by, the people I love. The one specific thing might be to wash a sink full of dirty dishes. After this, I’m going to disappear into a different kind of abyss–an abyss of love. I need some time to get reacquainted with my partner Dan, my family, my community –and freedom itself. I’m eager to tell the story of my captivity and rescue but I need some time first– that’s a subtle hint to anyone who might have a big camera or notebook.
For the British soldiers who risked their lives to rescue us, for the Government of Canada who sent a team to Baghdad to help secure our release, for all those who thought about and prayed for us, for all those who spoke for us when we had no voice, I am forever and truly grateful.
It’s great to be alive. Hamdulillah