Very special post today from Taylor for her birthday. It’s heartfelt and genuine, exactly as we have come to expect from her.
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It may be my birthday, but it is you I am thinking of this morning, of your little ones who aren’t so little anymore. They love you.; this much is clear. And they miss you; this is even clearer.
Have you eaten today? Or are you on yet another hunger strike in response to your mistreatment?
Have you had the chance to speak with Ensaf? With your children? Or have the authorities denied you that, too?
Have you screamed your lungs out as you described in your book or are you too weak, too ill, too broken, to do so?
How I wish I was there for you. How I wish I was there to tell you everything will be okay, that you will be okay. But this is never to be. I can only write and pray that my concern, my admiration, my love, reaches you. May you rest easy tonight. May you know you’ve been thought about when you wake up in the morning.
Love and prayers,
Taylor Anne Vigil
Today is my birthday. I say this not to gain praise or attention. I’ve never liked being the center of attention and I don’t intend to start now. What I desire is focusing attention on others.
Since I turned 18 I’ve dedicated my birthday to someone special. At 18 it was Michael Jackson. At 22 it was David Hyde Pierce. Now, at 25, it will be Raif Badawi who gets my spotlight.
Raif, who has spent nine birthdays without his family. Raif, who has lost the pleasure of watching his little ones grow up. Raif, who suffers every single day.
Raif, whose life is in ruins, because of Saudi Arabia’s outrageous laws.
Over the past few months, I’ve come to admire Raif. Not only do I admire him for his humanitarian and idealistic stand, but I have come to admire him as a family member, perhaps even a brother. He has made me a better writer and a better person as well. Over the months since I’ve known of Raif, I’ve striven to become like him: Fearless.
I’ve become braver, less ignorant, more committed because of him.
Raif and I are not related by blood. We don’t even speak the same language. Despite all of this, I see him as my brother. Despite this I don’t wish to meet him. I don’t long to have a conversation with him when he is released, about his time in prison, about the book I am writing for him. I don’t wish to give him a hug or greet him as one would greet a celebrity. All I want is for him to be okay.
And so, I conclude this post by saying this: I don’t want to be thought of on my birthday. I do not wish to be showered with gifts nor do I wish to be sung praises. All I want for my day is for you to think of someone else.
Think of those who are suffering.
Think of those who, like Raif, aren’t able to celebrate their birthdays with the people they love.
Think of those who are trapped in refugee camps, who are starving and cold.
Think of all the little ones who have died in the arms of their weeping mothers and pray for the ones still breathing.
Think of Raif and his family.
Do this in honor of me.