Dripping River Water

Love

Why I still nurse my 21 month old son May 15, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — Maceo Cabrera Estevez @ 4:37 pm
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This is not Omar but it sure resembles him.  Adam would not like me posting a picture of me breastfeeding.  Thanks www.mommajorje.com for this pic.

 

 

I really wanted to stop when he was 18 months old.  That was the plan.  I started to wean Omar when he was 15 months and it was really difficult.  I was still in my first trimester, pregnant with my second child-a bit crazy.  I am not the sanest of pregnant women.  I realized after experiencing it twice that I have perinatal depression.  It sucks.  I am much better but it still sucks.

I couldn’t take him crying and screaming and begging for my milk.  I was alone in the house with him and I thought knocking my head through the wall would be a better option.  I never did that.  I just stopped trying to wean him.  Without the physical support from my husband or anyone else I couldn’t do it alone.

I cut down on the milk by having him fall asleep in the car instead of in his bed while I nursed him.  I took him out to the parks more often and he would forget about my milk supply.  All he wanted to do was play.

I had somewhat of a break.

My mother came to stay with us for a month and a half and I thought surely that would be the best time to wean him and potty train him.

I was wrong.

I found out while my mami was here that my unborn child has a single ventricle heart defect.  I went to get the ultrasound by myself and knew when the technician wasn’t so cheery telling me all the details as she moved through examining my daughter’s body parts that something was just not right.

I began nursing my son more.  How could I not indulge him?  I weaned him from night nursing.  It only took one night of him crying and yelling at me for an hour while I sat patiently next to him.  He still wakes up a couple of times a night.  I lay next to him and pat him on his back.  I mainly sleep in his bed.

Sometimes I go to this playgroup in my neighborhood.  The mothers are Chinese, Vietnamese, Mexican, Guatemalan, Moroccan and Eritrean.  It is a diverse bunch that sometimes splits off by language.  I go between the Latinas and Muslims.

The Asian women were surprised with my big belly.  Omar was 9 lbs and 1 oz when he was born.  I am only 4’11 1/2.  This belly is smaller than when I carried him.  They tried to give me more food because I am eating for two.  I told them, three-I still feed Omar.  They gasped and then got on my case about still nursing him while pregnant.  I nodded and smiled.  The polite thing I’ve learned to do when people give me unwanted parenting advice.

I haven’t gone back.

Now I am in my last trimester and stay home when I am not at the three doctor’s appointments I go to weekly.  We go from room to room, to the backyard and sometimes go on walks in the neighborhood.  Being so physically close to me is a great reminder for Omar that I can still give him milk.  He asks more often and I nurse him.  Not because he wants it but because I want the opportunity to lay down, read a book and maybe take a nap.  Sometimes he wakes up around 5 in the morning.  I am so exhausted in the morning that I make him go back to sleep around 9 A.M.  I can only do this if I nurse him.  We sleep for another two hours and I thank God for this precious gift of milk.

Knowing that I may be in and out of the hospital because Azalea, my unborn child, may need heart surgery right after birth I figured I would still nurse Omar through this process.  I won’t be home as much and I want to be able to bond with him when I am home.  I want to hold him like a baby and tell him that I love him while he nurses and looks into my eyes.

By Islamic standards it is a great benefit for the child to be nursed until he is 2 years old.  2 years 4 months the max.  I always told myself two years and then have wanted less than that because I am pregnant.

Sometimes it hurts.  My supply is low but it is still there.  I figure this is the best I could give him.  I can only pray that I will be able to give Azalea the same.  I don’t know if I will be able to breastfeed her.  I don’t know what she will drink.  If she will latch.  It seems odd to me that a baby who will need so much nutrition may not be able to breastfeed.  InshaAllah that won’t happen.

the end.

 

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Gratitude and Forgiveness April 20, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — Maceo Cabrera Estevez @ 11:18 pm
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Yesterday there was a woman on the corner of my block selling strawberries.  She stood underneath a tree for shade.  She held her son, he was two years old.  I drove into my driveway with my son who is 19 months old.  I ran to her and asked if she wanted a chair for her son.  I told her about mine and she said that they were fine.  She couldn’t find anyone to watch him so she stood there in the midday selling strawberries with him.  I  pointed to my house and told her if she needed anything to just knock.

That night I was thankful that I was on my way home from yoga class when I saw her.  I was thankful to not have to sell strawberries while I carried Omar; I was thankful for my home and family; I was thankful for the nice hot showers I get to take, the meals I get to make, the time I get to spend being grateful.

Today I asked for forgiveness for worrying.  Most of the days I am positive.  I touch my belly as Azalea kicks and moves.  I try to stay focused in the present as I watch Omar smile.  Today as I made him lunch, I cried and I cried.  I went to my new OB today; she reminded me that Azalea could have a genetic defect.  I hate when they remind me of that.  I hate when they tell me she could be stillborn or born premature.  I know this may be the case and I try to accept it.  I also don’t like when people tell me everything will be just fine and she will be great because they don’t know.  No one knows.

So I pray.

Sometimes I don’t even know what to pray for.  Should I pray for her to be healthy and live a long life and if that doesn’t happen will I get too depressed?   I can’t change what is written.  As I sit on my prayer mat I try to find the right words, I try not to ask for too much, I try to maintain my gratitude and contentment.

The imam at my mosque asked me awhile back if I’ve dreamed with her.  I did in the beginning and she looked like my husband’s sister as a little girl.  I haven’t since then and I wonder what that means.  When I was pregnant with my son I had vibrant dreams of ancient Sufis dressed in royal blue with long beards making salat in our mosque.

I want those dreams again and peacefulness in my heart so I could handle things.

the end.

 

Please help this community of Cuban Muslims September 29, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — Maceo Cabrera Estevez @ 8:44 pm
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There are no mosques in Cuba.  You can not find any halal markets,  Muslim bookstores or Islamic schools.  There is little or no access to the internet.  Without these resources the Muslim community in Cuba continues to grow.  In November, 2009 I went back to Cuba to visit my family and I visited Muslims in the small city of Holguín.  Last month I began writing about my experience there:  Eid in Cuba, 2009 part 1 .  I received an email from Abdul Latif and Aisha yesterday with the great news that they have the opportunity to buy land for two families to live on.

This is their vision:

– to raise goats and lambs for their consumption

-to sell halal meat to the other Muslims in the area

-to make clothing for the sisters

-to provide a space for the education of Muslims in the area and those interested in Islam

-to build a place of worship outside their homes

inshaAllah.

I was asked to provide them with a loan that I can not do at this time but I can ask friends and family to help them in this endeavor.  I need to raise $2200 in the next coming weeks.  Things are quickly changing in Cuba and this is a great opportunity for this community to grow and be of service.  Please donate what you can, even $5.00 will help.  Please forward this blog entry to family, friends and others in your community.  Please keep the Muslims in Cuba in your prayers and hearts, they are really good people that just want to better serve our Creator.

Please feel free to contact me at: maceomarti@gmail.com if you have any questions or would like more information.

Thank you.

Salaams,

Maceo Nafisah Cabrera Estévez

Help raise $2200 for the Muslims in Holguín, Cuba

 

Eid in Cuba 2009 part 1 August 30, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — Maceo Cabrera Estevez @ 9:05 pm
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In November of 2009 I went to Cuba to visit my ailing Tía a week after I got married. Although, it was difficult at times; I would have rather been honeymooning with my husband. I feel blessed that I was able to make the trip to benefit my Tía Rosa’s health and I also had the opportunity to meet Cuban Muslims.  Before my trip to Cuba I searched online for Muslims through Islamic Finder.  There I found a masjid in Holguín, an hour away from my family.  I wrote down their info and called them when I got to Cuba.  The number I had was not of a mosque but to a lovely woman, Daisy.  Her husband was Lebanese and Muslim who ran a group for many years when he was alive.  She told me the Muslim community was small but active.  She would find Abdul Latif and leave him a message to call me.  Most people in Cuba do not have their own phones.  A few days later Aisha, Abdul Latif’s wife called me and my adventure began.  I was to visit them and for Eid al-Adha, the Muslim celebration after the pilgrimage, Hajj.

Here is my story, in parts, about my weekend in Holguín with Cuban Muslims.  Please be patient with me and my writing.  I am very pregnant right now waiting for the arrival of my son, Omar Ali João, inshaAllah.  My goal is to finish this story before Eid al-Adha 1431/2010, inshaAllah.  Please keep us in your prayers.

There were eleven of them.  I met them after a long car ride squeezed between a man with a big backpack and my cousin.  I did not speak.  If I did it was only in whisper.  Foreigners can not ride in Cuban owned vehicles that are not designated for tourist use.  They can not ride and pay the equivalent of two dollars like I did to go to Holguín from Victoria de las Tunas.  I was born in a Brooklyn hospital five years after my parents left Cuba.  In Cuba I am a yanquí.

When we arrived in Holguín we picked up our bags from the trunk of the old American car.  There we found my bag soaked with petroleum.  I was confused. Why was there petroleum in the trunk of the car?  In the US we don’t do that.  We don’t need to go from house to house while traveling with our own petro if we want to make a good meal.  One of the passengers must have been traveling with petroleum to use in the kitchen, I was told.  The container was not securely sealed.  She walked away before we fully realized what was happening.  There was no point in chasing her down and asking for an apology.  My bag was soiled, my best clothes was damaged.  I was going to Holguín to celebrate Eid with Cuban Muslims I did not know smelling like a gas station.

My cousin and I rode a bicitaxi to the address I had in my planner.  As we rode I put a scarf over my head.  It was thin and brown, a scarf my friend brought home from Medina.  It was light enough to deal with the Cuban heat.  In the days I spent at my aunt’s house in Cuba I did pray my five prayers a day but could not find the motivation to cover myself.  Every time I go back to Cuba I am stared at.  I didn’t want to give people another reason to look at me.  A few days earlier I had talked to Aisha, my contact in Holguín.  We made plans.  I would go on Friday and spend jummah with them.  They knew of a place I could stay.  I would learn from them and share Eid at their home.  I would give them 700 pesos to buy a lamb.  700 pesos is the equivalent of $29.  I didn’t have much money for this trip but I could do that.  It would be their first Eid even though they have been practicing Muslims for six years.  I made the mistake of telling her I was a part-time hijabi.  She told me she was going to get on my case about that.  She was Cuban after-all, I wouldn’t expect anything less.

My cousin didn’t know if we were on the right street.  I looked at the houses as we slowly rode by.  I always disliked riding a bicitaxi.  It seems a bit inhumane.  I’ve only been in one three times and each time besides the one in Holguín I got off half way through the ride and paid full fare because I couldn’t bear for someone to carry my weight.  I saw men in kufis in front of a house, they were waiting for us.  I was greeted by the brothers then the sisters inside.  We sat around in a circle I told them about the petroleum ordeal.  Right away Aisha’s mother took my bag and began washing my clothes.  She had a small washing machine.  I had never seen one in Cuba.  In my Tía’s backyard my clothes are washed over a board and hung up to dry.  In this new home there was potential that I would be able to wear something nice for Eid.

Aisha, her husband Abdul Latif and their daughter Maryam shared a house with her parents, her sister, brother-in-law and her six years old niece, Laura.  Although she was not Muslim she came home from school and shook everyone’s hand and said Asalaamu Alaykum.

Laura

I was sitting in a room filled with Cuban Muslims.  I looked at the corner of the room and saw a bóveda, an altar for spirits and ancestors.  I used to have one in my living room.  My mami has one, my abuela had one.  I come from a line of espiritistas.  There I was in a room full of Muslims who I didn’t have to explain my family’s spirituality to.  In that room lived two worlds.  Maybe even three.

There are no mosques in Cuba.  There are no structures that make you think you are in the Middle East.  There is one official space for Muslim prayer, La Casa de los Arabes, that is open on Fridays for jummah in La Habana for foreigners and diplomats.  Cuban Muslims pray out of their homes, they get together to read Qur’an and learn hadiths.  In Aisha’s living room we sat in chairs facing Abdul Latif.  Shaped like a crescent moon there were men sitting next to women.  He gave the khutbah, the sermon, his words lost in my head.  I sat there knowing that this was a unique experience and I would never have anything like it.  When it came time to make salat we all didn’t fit in the bedroom that they use to pray, eat and sleep.  There are more Muslim women than men in Holguín.  We prayed dhuhr first leaving the room after making dua giving the men space to be one with God.

They wanted to know about me.  I wanted to know about them.  We spent the afternoon giving each other brief bios on our lives and our paths to Islam.  In this room the youngest Muslimah was nineteen, beautiful Zaynab.  She met Aisha at the university, they were both art students.  Zaynab a lot younger than Aisha followed her around asking her questions about Islam.  She came from a home of atheist intellectuals.  Zaynab believed in monotheism and found comfort in Islam.  Her parents aren’t supportive of her faith.  She puts on a scarf after she leaves her home and turns the corner of her block.  Aisha has tried to talk to her mother.  It has not worked.  Zaynab loves her parents and knows that patience and respect is all she can give them right now until they come around, inshaAllah.  She is very shy and sweet.  When she talks she can’t look at you in the eye but you feel her heart beat and the light that beams from it.  I am fifteen years older than her and I wondered what it would have been like if my parents stayed in Cuba and if I would have found Islam at nineteen.  I wondered if I would be as peaceful as her at such a young age.

Zaynab

to be continued…

 

the last days September 18, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — Maceo Cabrera Estevez @ 11:57 pm
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I am going to miss this.  Ramadan.  I was shy in the beginning.  Not wanting to tell people it was my first.  But when I looked out into the horizon and caught a glimpse of the crescent moon I couldn’t help but want to savor that moment.  I still see it.  The fog rolling in, the oranges and peaches of the sky.  I can still feel how my heart expanded that first night, the first early rise for suhoor.  I made eggs and veggie sausages and toasted some spelt muffins for my friend and I.  I felt like a mother.  Like my mother when she used to wake up before dawn to make breakfast for my father.  I woke up as well.  This is what daughters of bakers do.

I’ve been wanting to write words on long walks through Berkeley.  Words on my body.  Wrapped around so I won’t forget them.  There are different fonts I like but on my body I want it typed like a typewriter.  Each click, a new memory.  I am not going to India.  Not yet.  I am going to Cuba instead, inshaAllah.  There I can sit with my Tía Rosa.  I can make her coffee, tell her don’t worry I will get the water from the well.  I will have ear plugs this time so I won’t wake up when the giant pigs across the street are being weighed.  They sound like aliens.  I will miss the clacking of the horse hoofs in the middle of the night but I will be able to dream.  Maybe I will be able to dream stories.  Stories like my mami used to tell me on Saturday nights.  She no longer repeats those stories over and over again.  She has been in the United States for almost 40 years now.  More years than living in Cuba.

I am saving my words for Cuba.  They are tucked away in my heart.  In between coffee making and salat I will write, inshaAllah.  This trip seems better than India.  I will speak like a Cuban again.

I tell my family my Ramadan stories.  I feel like a child again.  It is a full circle for me.  Everything my mami taught me I am relearning.  Sometimes I am shy to say that I cry when I realize how much I love God.  Like a child.  I am in my purest state.  The other night I had anxiety regarding things of this life.  I was pmsing.  Sometimes it feels like the end of the world.  Before I went to bed I said la ilaha illa Allah over and over again.  I said it until I cried.  I said it until my heart was pounding so hard I felt it coming out of my chest.  I said it until I realized that all I need is God.

I want the words typewritten on my body so I can remember this month.  Remember what I have learned, the breakthroughs I’ve had, the beautiful people I have communed with.  I want to remember this because it is my first.  I took my shahada a few days after Ramadan ended last year.  Two days after my birthday.  My 33rd year.  Some people call it the Jesus year.  A spiritual year.  It was an amazingly spiritual year for me, mashaAllah.  Maybe I won’t miss it.  The words are tucked away in my heart.  They will spill unto the page and the memories will surface.  I can take everything that I have learned and implement them, inshaAllah.  I finally understand what going with the flow means.  It is me, just like this.

the end.

 

Maghrib May 11, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — Maceo Cabrera Estevez @ 4:27 am
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Oakland rooftop-maghrib

I am starting to understand the sun and the moon.  Their rise and fall.  Each prayer time the air feels different.  My favorite is Maghrib.  On the rooftop I feel closer to the sky, the clouds.  The blues change.  They embrace me.  Lovingly.

I went to the ocean today.  Drove over the Richmond Bridge salaamed the bay to my right, to my left.  Grateful for the rain last week.  Angels dropping down to say hello.  The green of the hills remind me of places I haven’t been yet.  Places in stories, in books, in memories-mine and yours.  I remembered to be thankful for creation.  The ocean vast and deep.  I was grateful and still am for the moment of having the pebbly sand underneath my feet, the ocean greeting my toes.  I was grateful to see the sun shining on the ocean, the kids playing nearby, the wind pushing me to love deeper.  As deep and as vast as the ocean, as my love for you, as my love for myself.

I have been working hard.  I gravitate towards different teachers.  All with similar messages just different ways of expressing it.  They reiterate the work that I have been doing and what I need to continue to do.  Yogi Bhajan had wonderful teachings, they will serve my lifetime, insha’Allah.  This I read yesterday: “If you master your mind, you master the whole universe, because once you have mastered your mind and brought it to neutrality, then the universal mind will serve you.”  Every time my mind escaped into fantasy I remembered to master my mind.  All I can say is when I did that I felt at peace.  My light is shining again.

I walked down the street tonight and couldn’t help but smile when Stevie Wonder came on my ipod shuffle.  Don’t you worry about a thing has been my theme song since I first heard it.  Sometimes I pretend it’s God’s song to me, to everybody.  I am so thankful for every moment of my life, even the harsh ones.  I am thankful for my path and for the power of change.  I am thankful that my mind writes poetry while I walk, that my heart sings songs to the lovers, that I feel the connection to everything on this planet and beyond.  I am thankful for days and nights like this.

then end.

 

A prayer for Gaza January 12, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — Maceo Cabrera Estevez @ 10:39 pm
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Love thy enemy.

There was a time I didn’t like Jesus.  Not that I ever thought he was a bad guy.  I would have probably wanted to be Jesus’ friend if I was around that time.  I just didn’t really believe in the whole holy trinity and that he was the son of God.  Or God himself in human form.  I was still in Catholic school, I was still a little kid and I knew that he was a prophet.  Just that.  A big “just”. Instead of seeing the complexities around Jesus I just didn’t like him.  Remember I was a kid.

Then I met Buddha.  Then I met the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh).  Then I realized I could actually like Jesus.

I have been remembering Jesus.  The stories I liked about him.  Ways that I could be like him.  I remembered him saying at one point in time to love thy enemy.  Love thy enemy.  I don’t have any enemies.  When I was a kid there were people I hated.  With good reason but I don’t hate anyone anymore.  I don’t have any enemies.  Maybe there are people that just don’t like me but I don’t think they are my enemy.

When I was reading the Teachings on Love by Thich Nhat Hanh I remember having to meditate on loving my enemy.  The enemies that I don’t have.  But then I remembered…

the man who abused me-an enemy

George W Bush-an enemy

an ex girlfriend-an enemy

and I tried to meditate on love for them and this was truly hard.  This was hard because I had to see them as complex human beings who were hurt themselves and needed forgiveness and love so their lives would be better.  Did I say this was hard?

Somehow it has gotten easier.  I can’t tell you how that somehow happened.  It was gradual.  It didn’t just become an epiphany.  It happened in between healing and freak outs.  I started to believe in the truest form of love.   I started to believe that love can change anything.  I started to believe in love.

I pray.  I pray everyday.  Sometimes it takes me awhile to start praying.  Sometimes it takes me awhile to let myself have that moment to be open and free.  When I do I feel new.  When I do I feel like myself.  When I do I see that I am connected to every molecule in the universe.  Every person.  Every plant.  Every rock.

I prayed in San Francisco on Friday for Gaza.  I prayed for the children.  I prayed for those who have been injured.  Those who lost lives.  Those whose hearts beat so fast not knowing what will happen next.  I prayed for people to be wrapped around in God’s comfort during this time.   My heart feels achy.  I am not alone.  I prayed. My picture was taken.  I wondered if my prayers were captured and sent all over the world with one click. 

My sister saw the picture and told me she thought of me when she went to church.  Thought of me when the pastor was talking about love.  Love thy enemy.  Love everyone.  Love even the man who killed Oscar Grant.  Love him because he needs prayers, too.  And I told her yes, I pray for the Israeli government everyday.  I pray that God will give them so much light that they will see that killing is not the answer.  I pray that God will guide them so they will stop the shootings, stop the bombs, stop the terror.  I pray that they will be strong enough to just stop everything, to let go of their egos, to truly do God’s work.  I pray for them.  Everyone needs prayers.  I pray for all world leaders to step up and stop being silent.  I pray that they treat each other with loving kindness and see all the discrepancies in the world.  I pray that they lead with their hearts and not with their egos.  I pray for them because I believe in the power of change and maybe if they feel my prayers something will shift.  I pray.

Years later I realized what Jesus meant by loving thy neighbor.  I realized and now I can really like him.  I understand him in ways the bible could not relay to me.  I understand what he meant about love.  I got work to do.  So I pray.

the end.