My Story

By Laila Yaghi, mother of Ziyad Yaghi

Every time I approach my computer to write, I become frozen and run away from facing my fears and my reality. I feel like running for eternity and not turning back!

People often tell me that “There are a lot of people who are worse off than you,” but that does not lull my pain or minimize it!

Yes, I don’t show my feelings a lot. I am the type that just stays quiet and breathes in pain. I rarely shed any tears, but when I do I feel the toxicity of them flowing back in me internally through my system. This chemical that is flown inwardly damages my entire being severely to the point it cripples my entire physique.

My days, minutes, seconds are laden with grief. I wake up so groggy from a night full of dreams. In my reoccurring dreams, I am trying to rescue my son from something or I am looking for him. The dream seems like it lasts for hours! The strange thing about my dream is that I know I am dreaming and in my dream I am so scared that I am going to wake up before I rescue my son. So I wake up very tired. I sit on my couch sipping cup after cup of coffee trying to exhale the grief and start a new day.

Then the days repeat themselves. I come home from work exhausted as if I had worked 24 hours with no sleep. I come and sit again on the couch like a statue not moving for hours. I then realize that I have been in that same position for hours and that I have not accomplished anything useful that day. I get mad at myself for not spending my day doing something useful and that I wasted my day doing nothing.

I thought that when I went to see my son, Ziyad, that things would be different. Of course anxiety kicks in weeks before I travel. I hope that he won’t see me depressed. I practice while looking at myself in the mirror to smile, to laugh so my face muscles will loosen up a little

I count the seconds and hope the days will go faster so I can see his beautiful face. That I will be able to touch him for once in years. I look at the calendar every day.

It is time to go now. I am in the airport thinking nonstop. In the plane now I’m praying nonstop that the visit will go smoothly and that I will look a little upbeat. I see him, I fight so hard to hold back tears but they betray me and they flow down. I feel terrible that I am causing him pain over the pain that he’s already enduring. I see his face and engulf it in my hands. I reach up to him and kiss him on his cheek and hug him. I really don’t want to let go. I want to stay hugging him but reality sinks in. I am being watched by a bunch of guards. He sits down and I sit down. I am at a loss for words. I need to keep staring at him. My motherly instincts are holding back. My mind is talking to myself, “you lost a lot of weight”.  He smells good, but looks a little pale. He squints a lot because his eyesight has significantly worsened. because he has been in solitary for so long; in fact he can barely see anything more than three feet away.

My heart was pounding so fast. I was so stricken with grief because his beautiful, big, green eyes were now weak. I smiled at him and he smiled back. I was happy to see him and I wished I could just take him back with me home. The thought that I couldn’t, made me bleed from inside. After the visit, I felt that I was turning my back on him while leaving and this reminded me how people turn their backs on the dead. Thank God my son is alive but thoughts rush through my mind, “Would I be alive when his term of 31 years is up?”

I talked to myself while I was in the motel room. I tried to convince myself that he is not doing that bad. I tell myself that I need to start taking care of myself so I can become healthier for him. But when I came back from this visit I sank deeper into depression. Depression cripples the person’s soul, mind and body!

I remember his big, green eyes shadowed with sadness. I feel he is still asking the same question he asked before, “Why am I in prison?” Except that now he is older and wiser so he holds the question in. I have no answer for that except that America will always be a country that preys on the weak. It will always oppress people and hurt people to the core! It will rip families apart, cause depression and sadness to anyone it chooses. It makes money off of people’s tears, off of mass incarceration so the wealthy will become wealthier. It lives off of people’s misery. It is a first world country in torture, in mass incarceration and betrayal of its own citizens!

I pray that America will become a better country. I pray that my son and all the people who are in his situation will be out soon. I pray that love will overcome greed!


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