As the serenity of Ramadan with its concomitant introspection and self-reflection set in and as grief rears its head with the rapidly approaching second anniversary of my father’s passing, I find myself overwhelmed with gratitude for the ability to see how God’s plan is ultimately what is best and for realizing how shortsighted we humans truly are.
In June of 2019, I was told by my previous institution, the one that brought me to Northeast Indiana 8 years earlier as a founding member of its pharmacy program, that my annual contract will not be renewed the following year. The program that I loved, poured so much of who I am into, and whose name in the area became synonymous with mine, was to no longer be a part of me.
It was devastating
I updated my CV and contacted everyone I knew in the city of Fort Wayne, the place where I struck roots and my family called home. My work in the community had gotten me some name recognition, institution, city and state wide leadership awards, and a sense that my skill set is valued. I talked to everyone, from CEOs to the mayor, but not a single opportunity opened up.
I got nothing
So I discussed with my wife the fact that I have to broaden my search and we both decided that we should limit it to the Midwest. We both have family who live within a 4-hour drive in Michigan and it’s been great for our kids to grow up near them.
I applied to institutions with job descriptions that felt tailor made for me and to some where I can see my skill set being be an asset.
I had my phone screenings and my zoom interviews but no offers.
It was crushing
May of 2020 came around, COVID has now become part of our lives, my contract was up in a month and I still had nothing. So I fell back on my pharmacy degree and went back to working as a community pharmacist, something I hadn’t done in 10 years. I covered many pharmacies in the region as a travelling pharmacist and when the COVID vaccines were made available I led vaccination teams in various nursing homes and long term care facilities. Although I cherished my role as a pharmacist, academia is my true calling and so I kept looking and kept applying.
By October 2020 I had submitted 22 applications, received zero offers and had 1 application pending for a “there is no way they will consider me for this” type of position. I was losing hope. I was sad, couldn't understand why this was happening to me and was on the verge of depression. However I was at the same time thankful that I have a job and can still provide for my family.
I had submitted that one pending application on September 30th out of sheer desperation. When December rolled around and I hadn’t heard from them, I was certain that I had just wasted a search committee’s time. Then in early February 2021 I got a call from the chair of the search committee asking if I’m still interested. I was shocked by the fact that the search was still ongoing and that I was being considered. She explained that they had sent emails to candidates earlier but when no one responded they investigated the matter and realized that there were delivery issues with the set of emails they had sent during that period. My email was amongst them and she was hoping that I was still interested in a phone interview. I was definitely interested but did not keep my hope up. I was sure I will not make it past the initial screening. The phone screen took place in mid-February and was followed by a full day zoom interview a couple of weeks later. Mid-March I was made a verbal offer and invited to campus for a half day of final formalities and an in person offer.
Friday April 16th I was made an official offer and given the weekend to think it over.
Saturday April 17th I called my father in the morning to get his blessing. The position was in Connecticut, far away from Michigan where he lived with my mom.
Monday April 22nd, having received my father’s blessing I called and accepted the offer
Wednesday April 21st in the late evening my father was admitted to the hospital with a brain aneurysm.
Thursday April 22nd I was by his bedside.
Friday April 23rd I was by his bedside as he took his last breath.
All the rejections that I had were leading me to that moment.
I was there in 2019 when he had to have a lower back surgery.
Since then I was there every other weekend to relieve my sister and my brother who lived nearby and did all the heavy lifting of caring for him and my mother whose Alzheimer’s was getting progressively worse.
I was there in June of 2020 when his health took a turn to the worse and I drove him to the hospital, paralyzed by the fear that they may take him in but turn me back due to COVID restrictions.
I was there when the result of that visit was open heart surgery. A surgery that was followed by two months of hellish rehab during a hellish time.
I was there when he came home with a bedsore you can stick a finger in, and was so weak he was bedridden.
I was there praying by his bedside as he was taking his last breaths.
I was there because of all the rejections that were nothing but lessons in patience,
lessons in doing all you can to plan but also relying upon The One who has the best of plans,
lessons in taking a moment to step back to try and see the full picture,
to appreciate God’s wisdom,
and to say Alhamdullilah
May God grant us the wisdom to see beyond our shortsightedness and the ability to see His light through the darkness of our times
Palestinian, Muslim, American, Husband, Father, Academic, Pharmacist, Coffee Addict, Nutella phene, Pseudo writer, Soccer player, former Canadian, Community servant, Pinch hitter imam, interfaith ninja, Intellectual vigilante, and the undisputed KING of snark