By: Michelle Hashem
I was expecting it, but I still froze when he said it. His face was bleak and tired, gripping the armrest of his couch like he would have crumbled into pieces if he let go.
“He passed two weeks ago,” my Dad said, looking down. I didn’t know what to say, so I nodded. He got up, legs shaking, and walked away.
I didn’t know what grief was. I didn’t know what it felt like, or what to do with myself when it was 3 AM and the concept of death bounced around my brain, never losing speed until I took a melatonin pill and passed out until 4 PM the next day.
I didn’t conceptualize this as grief. I thought grief was randomly breaking down in tears. For me, it was an introduction to reality.
The last time I saw him, it was a month after he fell down the stairs of the Northern-most Maronite Catholic church in Beirut, the border of the Christian neighborhood diffusing into what looked like a different country of the hijabi women and dark-bearded men of Lebanon.
Under Allah’s watch, he was paralyzed for the rest of his short life. When I saw him, defeated in his wheelchair, his wife spooning babaganoush on crispy white pita bread into his mouth, I couldn’t look at him. It was impossible to me that this was even real. The guilt plagued me. And this time, I couldn’t fix it. No one blamed me but myself, and I didn’t know what to do.
So, I faced it in a different way. I am still facing it every day. Half my family is under sanction and the other half had their beloved city explode into ash. I face the fact that everyone is on the brink of death by coming to terms with it maturely rather than burying my anxiety in unhealthy coping mechanisms. And I hope one day, facing it will get a little easier.