By ISMAIL ABU HAYYEH, Guest Writer

It just kept flashing back to my brain, and I couldn’t sleep. 24/7, my eyes were open. I would go to the sheikh. He would read Qur’an and pray for me. I would see a doctor to give me medication to sleep. I wouldn’t stay at my house, I’d just go out. I’d go out of the city and just chill by myself. I kept going to his grave. I’d stay there for hours, not just an hour or two. I was just talking to him like he was talking to me, like I was with him. After I’d leave, I’d go to his house and stay with his mom and dad, keep them company, and I would tell them to think positive.

I told my mom that same month that if I die a martyr, not to be mad. I can’t keep thinking about this. I was thinking that I was too young, that I couldn’t do it anymore. My dad kept telling me, “I know you’re thinking of leaving us, I know you, like okay you’re gonna go, you’re gonna get killed, or do something to get yourself killed,” and I was. In that moment, I was thinking of doing something or getting myself killed . . . it was one of those moments.

I moved to America in 2014. I was a sophomore. We moved to Bridgeview because it has one of the largest mosques in America. There’s a huge Arab community here. It reminds me of home. Everyone here is so close and everybody knows everybody.

In a way, I’m happy that we moved here. It took me away from all of the violence between us and the Israelis. It’s peaceful. Stagg is like a shelter; it’s safe. I don’t have to worry about losing my life or my family losing theirs. I don’t have to worry about our safety, or if we’re going to be attacked or harassed. That doesn’t happen here. I know it won’t. This is good.

Every day, even at school, I’m thinking about Mohammed. I’m thinking about that day. I’m thinking about how he died. It haunts me. No matter where I go, what I do, I always think about how I lost my brother.  

I miss Palestine. I miss playing soccer in the streets, I miss the farm I lived on, and I miss Mohammed.

I could have saved him, and it was my fault for not saving him. I could have done better, and I just keep feeling bad that I didn’t try my best. I keep thinking I didn’t try my best. I know that I didn’t try my best.

If I could switch places with Mohammed, I would. I would do it in a heartbeat. I risked my life trying to save him, and if Mohammed was in my place, I know he’d do the same.

There is some part of me that regrets being a paramedic because I signed up to help people, not to watch my friend die and watch my whole world collapse.

Even now, that day still haunts me. Every time I think about it, I can’t sleep, and my mind circles back to the last thing he told me:

‘Are you gonna save my life if I get shot?

‘Yeah.

‘You better give me some of your blood if I lose any.