Sunday, December 3, 2017

Dear Dad

Dear Dad,

Another year has passed. So much has happened. Our family has grown. There's a lot of excitement and changes. But the one thing that's the same, is you're not here. You're missing out on these things. And that still bothers me. I was never given the chance to say good bye. That still bothers me. I still get upset by that. I still think you should be here for us. And, this year, I am still on my mission to recap the year, and tell you everything you've missed!

January was the beginning of the baby year. We learnt that Faiza and Earvin were having another boy. (Thanks for that, by the way. Am pretty sure I asked you to pull some strings and give this family a cute little girl.) Haseena threw Rehanna and Scott a baby shower. They asked for books to start a library for the little one. You were on my mind an awful lot this month, so I bought the baby a book from you. I remember how much you loved to read to me, and talk about books and stories. I recall you especially like those true-touches-your-heart kind of books too. So this is the book I got them, from you. Hope it's ok.

So, in January, Donald Trump was sworn in as president of the United States. While I won't go into details about this, I thought I'd share with you, how much your stories, the stories of your family have influenced and shaped our lives. One of the first things that happened during Trump's first week, as a ban on Muslims from certain countries to enter the US. Because of this, many people were stranded in Canada. Karim opened his home to anyone who was stranded and needed a place to stay. If you click on his image, you'll see the article.

Back in September, Ethan auditioned for the primary school play. This is the first time since we've been back in Dar that the primary campus has put on a show. Ethan got the lead as Aladdin. There were three performances. He was great. Wish you were here to see it. Your grandson can sing! Not sure who he inherited that from. Mum came to watch the final show. We are all so proud.

On Friday February 24, baby Malik Abel Venzant made his grand entrance into the world. He was eager to meet everyone, and decided to come early (27 weeks).  

March 6th saw your niece become a grandmother. Your great niece become a mother. Rehanna gave birth to a beautiful baby boy. Meet Khaled.

Shaheen came to visit mum this month as well. Mum took her for kebabs and they went to Zanzibar. One evening they saw an incredibly large star. They both say they felt you with them. Thank you for joining them in Zanzibar.

Did I mention how incredibly positive your niece Faiza is? She's amazing. Even Scott admires her positive outlook. In March, a month after Malik was born, someone asked Faiza how he was doing. Her response is beautiful;

"Malik is taking baby steps everyday and growing and learning to breathe on his own. He's got pouty lips and long limbs and I think after this start at life, he may be a future marathon runner. He works hard and paces himself and is in it for the long haul."

For the last 6 weeks, Ethan and 3 other classmates have been working hard at school. It's final X time. The students join into groups based on their passions, they come up with a central idea, lines of inquiry, they interview experts and research their topic. Ethan and his group looked into the performing arts. The final element of the PYPX is action. Ethan and his mates decided to put on a show at the Children's Cancer Ward at Muhimbili Hospital. Oh dad, you would have loved it. I hope you saw it. It made my heart melt. 

For the last few years, Ethan has been a part of the Little Theatre's Kids Rock production. He really enjoys it. This year was no exception. Once again, I helped out. This year I wrote the script and directed. But Ethan's the star. He's been taking voice lessons too. You can really see the improvement in this video.

May was also a great month for Faiza and Earvin. Thank you for watching over Malik. He came home this month. 

June brought the end of the school year. And this year, the end of the school year meant the end of an era. Ethan graduated from the PYP. Which means, come August, I will officially be the mother of a Middle Schooler! Yikes

Ethan turned 11 this month. Rasool and the family came for the weekend, and Rehanna and fam, and Nabeel and Emily joined us for his birthday breakfast. We called mum in the afternoon. You were greatly missed. 

July also meant Ethan returned to theatre camp. This year's production was Hairspray and Ethan played the role of Seaweed. 

While Ethan attended camp, I got some time on my own. 
One night, I dreamt of you. We went to the Cheesecake Factory, ate cheesecake and chatted. It was a weird dream, as we never went out for dessert. Not just the two of us. And there's no Cheesecake Factory in Toronto. (At least not yet). 
Then one day, I decided to stay in the Square One area, while Ethan was at camp. There's this dessert place across the street, and I've never been in. I decided to give it a try.
Well, I walk in and am greeted by the owner/manager. He reminded me of you. 
Then, as I look over the scrumptious menu, I noticed that some cheesecakes had a little asterisk. Looking down, I see that these cheesecakes are Cheesecake Factory cheesecakes. 
Well, needless to say, I have found my perfect spot. Thank you. 
I also made a point of leaving one bite behind, so you could have your piece.

If you remember, two years ago I applied to attend a summer program at Harvard. I applied again this past winter and got accepted. So July was an exciting month, ending with me returning to Boston. Registration took place in the Law School, and my study group was also there, so I'd like to say "I went to Harvard Law School"! This time around, I got to talk to a lot of faculty members, so it was incredibly exciting. 

And since it was the year of babies, we got to spend some time with some!

August means back to school. Ethan has moved to the secondary campus. Can you believe it? He's in middle school!

September was a month of Ethan being a risk-taker. First, he set off for a 3-day camping trip to South Beach. He had a great time. You can read about his adventure here. Later, he auditioned for a solo singing part in a music concert to be held next month. Unfortunately he didn't get it, and was utterly gutted, but if he hopes to pursue theatre, he's got to get use to rejection and take it as a learning moment. Hopefully he'll not let this disappointment steer him away from his passion.

September also marked Bahadur Papa's 80th birthday. While we missed the party, I thought you'd like a picture. 

October was steady. Ethan was enjoying school. I got some more hours, and am still enjoying it. We started Wednesday dinners with mum, but then I got involved in a play at the Little Theatre and had rehearsals, so we switched it to Sunday breakfast. 

As you may know, Minaz is our family environmentalist. I like to think we do a decent job with recycling and thinking about our planet, but she puts us to shame. In fact, she won Environmentalist of the Year! woohoo! You can see it all here

Ethan's had a few firsts this month. Who would've thought an 11-year old would experience firsts! But yes, he had his first Middle School dance (and got all dressed up) and his first G6 field trip. This year they headed to Zanzibar for a week. Five days. No phone allowed. Because of rehearsals, my evenings were busy, so it wasn't too bad, but am glad to have him back home. 

Ethan and Jaiden, heading to the dance.

Me, in one of the plays.

Ethan and Avery, back from Zanzibar

The month has just started, but already we know it will be an exciting one. Ethan has once again joined the Little Theatre's Pantomine production. Scott and I will go watch later this week. I'm really excited as I'm not a part of it this year, and have no idea what to expect. Except pure talent from Ethan.
Ethan in one costume. He apparently also plays a rat. 

Yesterday there was carol singing, to get us in the Christmas spirit. Ethan was asked to read a poem. That meant for 30 seconds, Ethan was in the spotlight. Of course he loved that. 

There's still so much more happening this month. The Nisbet clan is heading home this Christmas. First Canadian Christmas in 5 years. And then there's a whole new year ahead of us. But you won't be here. For any of that. 

I wish you were here.

But I know, even though you may not be here with us in physical form, you're with us in spirit. Please keep watching over us. It's good to know we have our own personal angel.

Love always,

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