The Dates of Muhammed

“These are the dates of Muhammed” my house keeper says to me, eyes beaming, and points at a paper bowl filled with silky brown dates.  The skins are smooth and wrinkled.

“And this is water from the Zam Zam fountain.  In Mecca, I prayed to Allah that you would have a baby” she continues, cradling her stomach.  “Each morning, for seven days you should eat two dates and drink the Zam Zam water and ask Allah for a baby.”  She finishes, shyly motioning for me to eat my first date.

I offer a short Bismillah before popping a date into my mouth and smile as I chew the delicious caramel center and then spit out the seed.

We’ve been gone from Morocco now for almost a month.  Leaving the people we have come to love was much harder than I realized it would be.  We’ll see our American colleagues again somewhere in the world, but will I ever see Hassan, our toothless door man who once avenged us in a knife fight outside our apartment?  Will I ever learn if our housekeeper Rashida’s daughter graduates from her Architecture program and gets to design large buildings?  Will I know if my colleague and friend Abdellah ever lets his little Rayan get a dog?  What about Bader, Mohamed, Smiley Jihad, The Professor, and Samedi from my book club?  Will I ever hear if they continue to study English and visit America someday?    


Probably not.   

I know that loosing  after working so hard to find is part of our life, but it has been good to grieve.  To love our time in Morocco for what it was, to mourn its end, and to look forward to our next post with enthusiasm.  I’m sure keeping that level of excitement for what’s next in balance with sadness for what’s gone is a constant struggle in the Foreign Service.   

Back in my Casablanca kitchen I washed Muhammed’s date down with a few swigs of water from the Zam Zam well.  It is said the well miraculously formed after Abraham’s infant son Ishmael cried in the wilderness for water.  After being expelled, his mother Hagar wandered the deserts of Arabia until she discovered the spring, a gift from Allah that has never run dry.    

Despite my strict adherence to the date diet, we are not pregnant.  But maybe Rashida’s blessing is more about the consistency of Hagar’s hope than Sarah’s biblical miracle.  Since being home we have selected and met with an adoption agency to start the adoption process in Ethiopia.  We’ve faced the time and financial realities of International adoption, felt duly and tremendously discouraged, but then, somehow, felt that cloud retreat as we move forward.     

We have one more week at home in Utah before heading to DC for a few months of training where the cycle of pack, move, unpack, start job, make friends, make home, make life starts over again.  Right now, our hopes are high.

On our last day in Morocco my housekeeper
Rashida helped get my hands hennaed.