January 30, 2016

Where Will We End Up?

The Corniche in Beirut. A policeman standing by the rail.
 A sober post today. A little morbid for your taste, maybe. If it gets too real for you, just look at the pictures. They're not related to the writing, but show Beirut, last Thursday afternoon.

 C. died last week. She had been sick for quite some time now, slowly deteriorating, each day a little bit more. Everyone saw her steady demise, from a once funny and vibrant woman, a little rough on the edges, but warm and compassionate on the inside, to a frail little bird, oblivious to the world around her.
Runners on the Coniche (snow is visible way in the back)
It was clear to all, except her husband. With incredible dedication he took care of her, always believing that she would get better, that it was an illness that was curable, and that he was going to visit (yet) another doctor who knew what was wrong with her, because the previous one(s) were useless and incompetent. Next year she’d be back on her feet again, and did I think she would be able to go with him to Paris this Easter?  He resisted pushing her around in a wheel chair, because “once you get into a wheel chair, you never get out again.”Instead, he carried around. She could not have weighed more than 45 kilos in the end. Love is blind.
The other side of the Bay of Beirut, with Dbayeh on the other side
In the beginning he faithfully brought her to all the Dutch events; the embassy celebrations, Queen’s Day and Sinterklaas. Until she stopped responding to that as well.
And so last week we got the message. Her nervous system had finally – wickedly and excruciatingly slow, but mercifully - abandoned her.
C. was like me; a Dutch woman married to a Lebanese. There are so many of us here.  She was on of the first wavers; a group of Dutch ladies that married their husbands well before the civil war, and still remember the golden days. They’re pretty special, because they stuck it out, regardless of all the violence. There’s not many of those left, maybe 5 or 6. I am one of the ‘second wavers’; we ended up in Lebanon during the civil war. ‘Third wavers’ came after the year 2000, when the civil war was over and done with, normality had sort of returned, and the impression was that things could only get better. Ignorance is bliss. 
Bike lane
She’s the 3rd compatriot that died in country, all ‘first wavers’.
Another first waver, some years ago, had opted for a cremation, something that is not very common in Lebanon, as religious laws stipulate you shall be buried according to your religion. And none of the 18 religious communities allows cremation. You need to slash your way through bureaucracy here while you’re well alive, otherwise it is a burial for you, whether you like it or not.
C. was buried. On foreign soil. It gets you thinking. “So what will the end look like for us?”
The fishermen had taken the boats on shore because of the storm
 The end is inevitable, it’s just about the only certainty you have in life. But where will you end? This may not be something you – as a Lebanese living in Lebanon - ever think about, if you. Or a Dutch in Holland. Or an American in the US.  You are home, and home you will stay. But if you’re a foreigner, it’s something you sometimes wonder about.  
Because as I got the call from C, I was wondering. What about us? What about all those foreign ladies in town. How do they see their end? And where will they be buried?
Well, enough sober thoughts. I intend to live to a 100 years, just like my dad.


janet said...

I am a German married to a Lebanese and living in Lebanon..this thought crosses my mind quite often. I don't see myself hurried in Jezzine and he doesn't see himself on a graveyard in the German province...

Anonymous said...

I am starting to think about that a bit, where will I end up !! California? Japan? Berlin? why not at more than one place?

Anonymous said...

Hello everyone! This was on DW TV German World TV about Lebanon.


Anonymous said...

I wonder if burial-at-sea is an option? How about do it like musical chairs? When the music stops and there are no more seats left, that's where you stay...unless you were in some random place for a visit...in which case you should be returned to your country...and there you are back to the original question! Life is complicated and death moreso.