For some reason, his father and I started calling Sami “Sami su-su” when he was a baby and it has just stuck.

Tonight, my sweet boy woke up at midnight looking for me. I sat down beside his bed for a moment, looking into those huge old-man eyes of his. He stared at me so seriously, and I wondered what was going through his mind.

“I love you, Sami su-su,” I whispered.

And he smiled. A small, sweet smile that let me know that he understood.

My eyes filled with tears at the sight of his tender, sleepy smile. The wind shook the leaves on the trees outside and the fan whirled overhead as we stared into each others’ eyes.

It is moments like these that remind me that motherhood has forged a new Leah — one with a heart that is always stretching wider and wider and wider. This child of mine shows me that the capacity of my heart is infinite, as endless as I can imagine and then some. How to write about a love like this without collapsing under a pile of cliches? Words are such flimsy substitutes for the raw experience. Perhaps there is no more to write about it tonight. I will just feel it and let it continue to move me deeper to that place of supreme well-being, supreme connection.

As Sami nodded off to sleep, I started to think about his father. In this moment, I feel nothing but love for this man who gave me my son.

For the man who sat with me in that Planned Parenthood waiting room, and said, “Yalla.”

Let’s go.

We held hands and walked out of that clinic. Thank you but I won’t be needing these services today, I said to the woman at the front desk. We walked out into the sunshine and had a wonderful meal at the Parkway Diner to celebrate our joint decision to keep the baby growing within me.

That one word in Arabic freed us both from fear, and launched us into a new dream: a dream of parenthood, of a family, of a tiny baby who we would call “Sami su-su.”


Our dream of a family, of the three of us, has died. It cannot be revived or resurrected. But the dream of Sami is a beautiful reality, for which I cannot ever express the extent of my gratitude.

Tonight when I think of his father, I can’t seem to conjure up anything but good memories. Ten years of an unconventional Arab-Jewish union, of laughter, of deep refuge in one another. Yes, when I summon the pain, the disillusionment, the betrayal, the terrible, terrible errors, they are all there, but they stand in the shadow of the beauty of the decade I spent with the man who is the father of my son. His blood runs through Sami’s veins, his heritage, his love, his pain. When my son smiles in a particular way, it is my soon-to-be ex-husband smiling at me.

I am encouraged by this moment, where the story of the pain is dismantled a bit and I can remember why I loved my ex so much, why I still love him, why I will always love him. I feel some of the deep reservoir of shame, regret, anger, and bitterness gently leach away from my heart, like a trickle of stagnant, acrid water. I made so many unskillful decisions in that marriage, which I regret horribly, but I will never regret marrying my son’s father.

Someday, Sami will ask about his father again, and I will tell him a beautiful love story. Perhaps the ending seems tragic, but that’s such a very narrow way to view it.