It was five days from my birthday. My heart and mind were with you, and I was having trouble sleeping. There was nothing I could do, nothing I could offer. I clicked on the video, knowing I would regret it, but needing to hammer this truth home, to offer up my peace of mind as a sacrifice. It was nothing like a fair exchange for the price you paid.
We only learned about you in bits and pieces, fragments, days after your death. It was a wildfire in my brain, obliterating all reason. It roared behind every thought, every second: the whole world was watching when you were shot, when you lay on the ground, face uncovered to the sky, blood pouring out from behind the hands of the helpful. The whole world was watching, and nothing was done. The whole world was watching, and I could not explain to anyone the fury blazing in my heart.
Here, it is not the same. We are not under the same burdens, but we are still being silenced. I see the raw energy of my people and I am stalled. Every day I feel it building, the knowledge that we are paying the price of indifference, the fury and resolve. I am afraid that we will have our own martyrs, and my heart is breaking.
I will go into the camps, and I will be there for you. I will march in your memory as I have before, and I dream that it will have more of an effect. I will carry a picture of you and pray that this is the beginning of a true and lasting change. I will pray that you do not look down in contempt on a world that appears, superficially, to be the home of a free people. I will pray that there are no martyrs like you in our midst, and that the appearance of our freedom will remain intact.
These are the nights that I whisper, "the whole world is watching," and remember the lost, and pray that I am not lying to myself. This is not Iran, and these are not your people, but please know that you are remembered, and your voice is not silenced. My voice is small, but I raise it for you, despite my terror. I will not be a coward anymore.
I have stayed out of this conflict for too long, quietly supporting it from the sidelines but never contributing. Now I occupy for the people who inspired these protests. The Iranians, who still hold my heart. The Egyptians, whose success encourages us to persevere. But mostly, I occupy for Neda Agha-Soltan, whose dying face still haunts my dreams and whose memory commands me to fight for the America in which I long to believe.
"Neda, don't be afraid. Neda, stay with me."