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Aboudi's Story

We were just talking about hope.

Our minds suddenly get stuck in that wheel of thoughts where we question why we always refer to hope when something bad happens. We think we can pull on a string and tug back to the moment when everything was okay.

Maybe if we can do that, we don't have to face what happened to us. To our 3 injured patients at the center. To our 300 patients. To all of us. Maybe, we don’t have to face the fact that hope was wiped out of the sky in a second.

The thing is, we were just talking about hope. Just now.

2 weeks have passed and our hearts are still heavy. Maybe, talking and sharing stories makes it easier. Maybe, if we tell the old stories, the new one doesn’t have to be real. We were all sitting down the past few days to tell some stories. Here's one:

Aboudi was sleeping soundly in his hospital bed. His mom was sitting in her chair across the room. Aboudi was diagnosed at the age of 7 months, he got well and then relapsed. Aboudi has been treating his retinoblastoma (cancer of the eye) at the center for sixteen months now. To him this is a safe haven, and a happy place. To his mom, the center is a place where she doesn’t have to worry about anything. Not even COVID-19. “The center takes care of everything, always."

The first explosion went off. Aboudi woke up and started screaming.
Aboudi's mom ran towards him to comfort him and assure him that there's nothing wrong. She hugged him and with her maternal instinct covered him with her body, giving her back to the window. Boom!! The second blast went off. The sound was deafening. Glass shattered everywhere and the whole window slammed on her back. The electricity was cut off. Mama took out the IV machine from the wall socket, carried Aboudi on her left arm, dragged the IV with her right hand and ran out of the room. On her way out, she felt that she couldn't hold her 3 year old son anymore. Strange. To her he was so light and she always carried him around because he loves it. Suddenly, all the pain came to her at once. She fell to her knees, saw lots of blood around her, and passed out. Aboudi was so afraid he started screaming for help. His cry for help didn’t stop even after the nurses came into the room.

Few hours pass by and Mama wakes up in a hospital bed.
- Where's Aboudi? Where am I?
- Aboudi is asleep. He is safe. You saved his life. Your hug saved his life. You have a fracture in your back and many many cuts that required operations and stitches. You will be alright.

Mama started to cry.

This is what devastates us! It is the possibility of loosing our kids and their feeling of safety at any given moment. This hit us all in places we thought were the safest and most peaceful.

You cannot tell the story of Lebanon, without fear and hope. You cannot tell the story of Beirut without losses, destruction, and rebirth. You cannot tell the story of Beirut without CCCL. So many of our kids cannot tell the story of their own lives, without CCCL.

We were just talking about hope. We were just talking about the purity and innocence in our kids' hearts.

This is so unfair and so unreal.
Watching all those people sad and wounded gives us a glimpse of how enormous the task ahead of us all is: figuring out a way to honor Beirut and the people who lost their lives, and then go on to make life feel like it matters again. We don't know how to get there. But we know we have to, because Beirut loves life so much, we are not going to let her down.