On October 15, 2023, I received a phone call from my dad telling me twenty-five members of our family have been martyred in Gaza. Among those were my Uncle Mahmoud Darwesh Ghabayen, my aunt Maryam Darwesh Ghabayen, my great aunt Faiza Ghabayen with their families, children, spouses and grandkids. They were all murdered as they fled to the “safezone in the south” by one Isreali bomb made on US soil.
I was dealing with so much grief but couldn’t even begin to process the shear massacre. Who do I remember? Who do I pray for? Do I know all their names? Do I remember all their faces??
I read once that “grief is just love with nowhere to go.” We cannot make it disappear, but we build the capacity to carry it with us and extend that love to ourselves and others. With the news of artists like Heba Zagout and Mimana Jarada amoung those killed since October 7th. I wanted to honor their voices and aspirations in life. So, I paint and I draw and I process the heaviness in my heart and grieve with my community.
The painting is called “Roza” named after my cousin who was martyred on October,15th. Inspired by Naji Al Alis’ Handala with a barded wire turned into a wheat grass, a symbol of resistance creating hope. And as long as there is hope, we love, we create, we live and we resist. Roza was the cousin who taught me about the history of resistance and struggle. She’s the cool cousin that made me a Hotmail at the age of 5, and we shared a dream of sheltering all the neighborhood cats. She’s my entire childhood and I’ll forever hold a piece of her with me that lives on.
Yara Ghabayen, 24. Palestinian born and raised in Gaza. Currently in the US, attained a BS in Environmental and Natural resource economics and currently working on becoming an educator in hopes of returning to Gaza and teaching one day. Instagram @ YaraGhabayen.