Yesterday I felt the weight of the continued unjust imprisonment of Josh and Shane more acutely than ever before. I was thinking about how grateful I am for having Josh in my life. I feel so incredibly fortunate to have had so much precious time living with Josh. He was fully present with me, fully there for me, on so many levels, on our journey together. From being there to carry whatever I asked of him to being there to carry the weight of my emotional struggles. He lightened my load. Thinking about his presence makes his absence feel even more profound. And I wish I could lighten his load.
My greatest source of strength is the synchronicity I have continued to feel with him, and our shared IHP community, throughout our separation. The synchronicity that has now expanded to include his brother Alex, recently freed Sarah, his friend and prison-mate Shane, other former and current political prisoners, and our continuously growing community of supporters. Despite the geographical distance between us, there are so many times when Alex senses what I feel and responds before I can even communicate in words, so many times when he feels exactly what I feel. I couldn’t get through this without him.
Nor could I get through it without the incredible family, friends and supporters of Sarah, Shane and Josh who have come together in a strong web of support that carries me through the quagmire. Then there are the former political prisoners - Eric Volz, Roxana Saberi, Laura Ling – who know just what to say and exactly when. And other current political prisoners who I feel connected with more deeply than I thought possible. As an Iranian colleague so eloquently expressed in describing Iranian people’s perspective of Sarah, Shane and Josh, “Their story is our story.”
So perhaps I shouldn’t be surprised by the synchronicity between Sarah, Shane and Josh and all of us. From the start of our campaign to free them, I could feel Sarah, Shane and Josh with me as I directed campaign social media and organized global action. Keeping the campaign true to them, even without being able to have their direct input, was critical to me. I worked at feeling connected to them despite not being able to communicate with them in person, by phone, by letter or online. I built our twitter support base by spending time embodying each of Sarah, Shane and Josh and following and reaching out to people and organizations I was sure they would each support if they could. Safe World for Women was a key organization I was certain Sarah would support, and I hoped they in turn would connect with and support her. They felt such a strong connection to Sarah that they have fought for her freedom and that of Shane and Josh with compassion and energy beyond my wildest dreams. Hearing that they recently spoke to Sarah directly filled my heart with the joy of a circle of synchronicity complete.
Last week I met Sarah for the first time. I was preoccupied for days beforehand, sensing the power of meeting when our connection felt so strong throughout her imprisonment. A connection I felt because of how much we have in common in our personal and professional lives, how much I felt she was like me. And a connection borne from 14 months of fighting for her freedom, fighting for her life. Powerful is not strong enough a word to describe our meeting. She greeted me as if she knew that I would be amazed to see her in the flesh. And I was. Stunned. I had to squeeze her arms multiple times just to assure myself that she really was there right in front of me. That she really was free. After such an incredibly long, hard fight, it’s still hard to believe. At the same time, being faced with the preciousness of Sarah’s life and spirit that we freed fills me with gratitude beyond belief and reinforces the significance and necessity of our ongoing fight for Shane and Josh.
Once I absorbed that Sarah really was there with me, we started talking and didn't stop for hours. We kept interrupting each other because the feelings we were sharing were resonating so deeply. She confirmed for me what I have been sure of all along - we have been connected despite the many barriers Iranian authorities have tried to put between us. There are so many parallels between the experiences and feelings of Sarah, Shane and Josh on the 'other side' of those seemingly insurmountable walls and ours on 'this side'. There are so many examples of us knowing what they are feeling and vice versa, so many examples of us communicating across the abyss. We are two rivers of life, with intertwined tributaries, flowing alongside each other. Our rivers will meet and converge into the crashing waves of an ocean of collective emotion when Shane and Josh are freed.