We didn’t live in Jounieh; we lived somewhere else for only one year.
I was a religious freak.
I lived in a very self-centered world where no one really existed.
We had neighbors.
I was for the first time in my life being noticed in school (only 23 class-mates)
Of all our neighbors one family was remarkable.
They were a nice family, a mom a dad and 2 adorable kids (7 and 4). The dad was a school math teacher. The whole family was nice and friendly. But there were a tiny problem in this utopia. The parents were cousins, and at the time they got married, the government didn’t impose on future couples to go through any tests to detect any potential genetic tare. And they had a genetic tare. As a result, their children had a genetic defect in their immune system; they had little or no immunity.
They had ulcers in their mouths.
They coughed all the time.
They threw up everything they ate and they had to eat some more to compensate the food they threw up.
At one occasion my brother was playing with them and he made the boy laugh so hard the kid almost suffocated with his coughs… My brother learned his lesson: They are kids but they can only handle moderate amounts of laughter.
One day their parent’s managed to take them to the USA. The boy had a more fragile health and there were hope of a bone marrow transplant from his dad, but there were not enough compatibility and the process was aborted. Meanwhile they got introduced to a method applied in the USA, transplanting anti-bodies, it seemed to work miracles on the children. But the treatment is not available in Lebanon so they had to import the serum from the US when they came back to Lebanon. The cost was huge but that didn’t worry them. One day the external tube (in which the antibody was injected) exploded and there were no way of putting another one in Lebanon.
I remember hearing that their immune system will improve with time. I remember thinking about how they will one day look at their difficult childhood, smile and say:
“Well, one way or the other we survived”
I also remember their cousin; she looked a lot like them but with a perfectly healthy immune system. I always looked at her and thought to myself “this is how they were supposed to look like”. She was so sweet.
A few years back, the parent’s did a colossal job trying to raise money for an operation for the boy; they never managed to raise the whole sum cause the kid died, of pulmonary infection. He must’ve been 10 years old or something.
Two days ago my mom told me the girl died too, her name was Layal and she was too young to die. I guess this is where you finally realize that Layal won’t get better and that all that those hopes were false ones. And Layal will never look back at her childhood and smile. This is where the story ends and probably the suffering too. They say far from the eye, far from the heart. I haven’t seen Layal in the last 10 years and when I think of her death I can’t really cry about it. In fact when I heard of her death I was silent. It’s like losing an old relative, you know you will miss her/him but you can’t help to feel that maybe this is how it is supposed to happen… we are all invited to die someday, right? Well NO, this isn’t right! She’s not an old relative… she’s a young woman! She’s a teenager; her death shouldn’t be the normal course of events that you accept with a little bitterness.
Shit, she just died and that was probably not such a bad thing, and they say we’re exaggerating when we say life’s empty. Yes I know tragedies like this happen everyday and even worse things happen to some… But that only proves my point of view: