In 2005 I wrote a book titled A Path Between Two Mothers – the story of our daughter Abuk and how she survived slavery, civil war, and the death of her mother during some terrible years in Sudan. It was just meant for her personal memories and I never intended it to go any farther.
Then some gifted musicians got together and decided to turn it into a musical. I was surprised and delighted. Last night was the first of three performances of Abuk: The Musical and I found myself overcome. Abuk (11 years old) had done a couple of media interviews in advance, but even she was fully captured by the story.
I remember when she first encountered her identical twin sister on a dirt airstrip in south Sudan. They had been separated at four months of age when their mother was shot and each believed the other was dead. Seeing one another for the first time, they both burst into tears – not because they recognized one another but because what are the chances that you would fly half a world away and find someone identical to yourself?
And now here she was watching a moving production of her life. No wonder she felt somewhat overwhelmed, so enraptured and hesitant at the same time. Her life in Sudan had been brutal. In Canada it has been wonderful. In between stands a gamut of emotions that no young girl should ever have to face … and endure. But this is Abuk – wonderful, radiant, strong, shy, and above all, a remarkable overcomer who in her very survival placed life in perspective for all of us.
But she is not alone in her conflicted emotions. Her mother and I felt all of the hardship of that year trying to find her in the civil war come flooding back to us. It was an exhausting journey that eventually saw us involved in our own child’s survival on the very threshold of impossibility. Thanks to Jane’s determination we all prevailed, Abuk above all. These are the journeys of the human heart, often at the extreme. I stood spent at the very spectacle of it last night – a player in a drama more moving and hopeful than any fictional movie. This is my life. It’s my daughter. It’s my dauntless wife. I am enriched as a man surrounded by intrepid women. How did I ever get to be so fortunate? I thank God for this gift every day of my life. It’s true.