A friend and university colleague passed away on Friday the 13th. It’s not the date I’m talking about here.

A series of all those spectacular people who are suddenly lifted off the cross of life.  I envy them.

5 years ago, it started off with a sweet yong woman, barely thirty…

Maya Ghanoum, victim of Cancer and her own sensitivity. A beautiful being that touched the soul of any human being she encountered once. One of those faces you can’t forget. A smart woman who ironically volunteered in writing  for a cancer center, who wrote children’s books.  One with intellect, taste and above all a haunting kindness. A rare one. Maya’s death was the biggest shock in my life. So that’s how death looks like?

My mother was ill when Maya left this world.

And I could see her disease taking over her bit by bit. The worse that could happen to someone you love, until she could barely breathe. And that’s not what hurts. What kills me is remembering her smile despite the  pain, the lack of breath and all the machines that are helping her survive. My mother who never knew what selfishness could be like. And she left before I ever get the chance to thank her. I’ve never seen someone as giving, generous, stoic, funny, humble…you name it. I’ve never seen someone who never , ever complained about anything despite the worse conditions she encountered all through her life, even at her death bed. And she left this world, the same day Maya’s sister was getting married. What a coincidence. Nadja is her name, the name of my future daughter hopefully and that of my coming film.  I miss her songs in the morning, and I could swear I could still hear her sing.

Then , 11 days after Mom’s death. Another great person, my boss, my idol.

The man who made me want to go to work when I hated it at the time. The man who never judged or hurt anyone. The man with a contagious smile,  with those comforting eyes that make you want to reveal your life to him. The man who managed to look at the bright side of any situation and see the best in any  human being, no matter how despicable he/she could be. He knew who tried to  hurt him, and when I asked him once why he never reacted he said: “if you face evil with good, who knows…maybe this person will change one day”. But  he’s gone, just like that. A fatal heart attack left us no choice. He was, by far, the purest man I met. Wassem is his name. A name to remember.

And then , the lovely lovely Hussam.

This young 32 year old man,  bursting with intelligence and talent. This man who at 21 wrote his first book, was about to publish his second. The youngest intellectual I know and the kindest person you can meet. Despite his outstanding intelligence, he had a way to make you feel important. The more he learnt , the  more humble he became. And he has the funniest and wittiest sense of humour. Hussam who could suddenly shock you with the most innocent of questions. And then again, as if heavens are thirsty for more , a heart attack took him away. I went back to his emails, and he wrote me once regarding a job he had 2 years ago “I don’t know what the girls think of me here, maybe they think I am an alien or something. I am used to it by now”.

He did feel different at all times. I bumped into him a week before his death and he was so unhappy. He told me he was tired from work with very low pay. We spoke about him, me, but he was too tired. He looked more pessimistic than I ever saw him; he smiled and joked less. His eyes had lost their sparkle. What a loss. Few days before his death, I heard his landlord has thrown away his stuff outside to rent the room for someone who paid more and that he left work and went back to visit his ill mother in Jordan and died there, at the hospital. Could it be that his sensitive heart couldn’t take it anymore?

Yes that is My Lebanon. Lebanon who gave nothing but illness to my egyptian mother. Mom always told me, “What a difficult country Lebanon is for strangers”.

Lebanon who forced Wasseem, the lebanese, to look for chances outside the borders of his land. Because Lebanon wastes its resources on those who don’t deserve it.

Lebanon, who mistreated Hussam. This palestinian jordanian young man. As if being palestinian was not enough. Hussam who told me once in his emails ” I miss the freedom of Beirut”. Yes Hussam, we give you freedom and make you pay with your life. His father refuses to talk to any of his friends from Lebanon saying “Beirut killed my son”. His mother doesn’t know her beautiful son is gone, her MS is advanced and the news might kill her. They told her he’s back to his beloved Beirut for some urgent work.

My Lebanon is not kind to those who deserve it. You know what…I don’t think they care right now. They went to where they’re better treated, loved and appreciated. I believe in the justice system of this universe and may they be resting in peace.

Oh lovely people out there, on the other side of the river. We cherish your memory, your smile and your sacrifices in this cruel cruel world. You taught us that nothing remains from our lives…except the memory of us. And it better be a good one.

  1. rouba

    I am so sorry for your loss. So sorry for our loss. I’ve been meaning to write since this tragedy and I couldn’t. You know I had already written plenty on other loved ones who left us too soon. And this time, I just couldn’t bear another farewell letter.
    Your is beautiful Reem. I hope you never have to write any other…
    Love you,


  2. meemzo

    I read your moving thoughts on them. How grand was it to even mention those u didn’t meet. That’s life, we have to take it as it is and go on. And I really hope that NONE of us needs to write a similar post again! Love u sis


  3. Niam

    Reemos, you said it. This is the river of life. We come, we go. They come, they go. And, yes habibi, we better be putting smiles on some faces and making happy memories of ourselves and with those we care about.

    We are lucky to know these beautiful souls. And we are lucky they are willing to teach us such lessons that can never be taught otherwise 🙂

    I love you x


  4. Ali Kobeissi

    Hello Reema,

    This page of yours is so deep and so touching.

    I was really shocked and felt so sad when I saw my dear friend Wassem’s picture and I read that he passed away,

    We went to school together and we were always in touch and planning to meet. But now I feel sad and depressed little bit since I have not seen my dearest friend Wassem and I was never able to tell him good bye.

    Wassem you will always be in my thoughts. May God bless your soul and I am sure you are in a better place now. You are a person of morals, love of people and full of positive energy.

    May God bless your soul.



  5. grace rinno

    I wonder what is Lebanon’s secret or maybe secrets. All those people who have lived here or still are, share a passionate love for this land. Yes, you do pay dearly for this love but Im not sure its the land that causes ur pain. Its rather the selfishness of the leaders and the one track minds of the majority of the Lebanese people who almost always blindly follow their leaders. Such a great loss of beautiful minds of beautiful people! I so relate to Hussam, God rest his soul, being in the same dilema…. I so relate to ur feelings about ur late mom and Maya, Allah yer7amon…. I am saddened by the loss of Wassim, who was my classmate for many years… Till now many of his school friend, who have learned of his too early departure, still can’t believe he is physically gone… Such an admirable person inside out… Lebanon, beauty, ugliness, love, pain… A great loss of great people, A great loss of a great land…


    1. Meemzo

      Thank you Grace for your comment, I agree with everything you said 100%, here we are miles away from home bearing the bitterness of being expats while our leaders are totally careless.


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