Wednesday, October 5, 2016


Folding the day’s worries until they dissolves into night’s mysteries
And for a moment everything
Stands still
For a moment the only thought is

“This is beautiful”

Whether oceanside
Mountain high
Or in the thick of city life
It’s a marvel
Without knowing why you are in awe
It has the power to keep you locked in the NOW
And sometimes that’s all that really makes sense

Sometimes “in the moment” is all that really matters. 

Sunday, September 25, 2016


I am not sure what’s braver, to be strong in the face of heartbreak or to be weak in the midst of love?

I have experienced the former; currently I am in the latter.

I realized how perfectly okay I was with being single when a friend of mine belted out loudly while I was delivering a speech at another friend’s engagement “SHE’S SINGLE!” The fact that it also happened to be around my ex’s family, friends and his wife, really made no difference to me; yes I am single, but I didn’t cringe in defeat, I embraced it like a victory- I am single but I am happy.

Then it hit me: After being single for a while, being in love is an act of bravery.

I don’t say this out of self-wallowing, I say it out of self-realization that I have become so comfortable in my single ways that anything that rocks this boat, I just want to throw overboard- or at least steer the boat to calmer waters and at my own pace.

I have become selectively available and blissfully introverted. I manage to write things off swiftly, and turn the page quickly… I don’t let things anchor me down, and I have no addiction to my phone- and in our day and age that’s a telling sign.

But... and here is the honest truth: I love love… and I know at the right time I will allow the boat to be rocked, I will be traveling with phone battery juicers and I will be writing about how wonderful life is when “he’s” around-  and I will be the “braveheart” in the midst of love once again.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Goodbye Jean

Our family was supposed to come together this summer to celebrate my cousin Naji’s wedding in Greece…  But life, in its capricious ways, had other plans.

We met instead in Lebanon to bury his father last weekend.

When I got the phone call telling me that my khalto Dolly’s husband, Jean, had passed away it was like it had fallen on deaf ears.

“What? No… he is fine he isn’t ill, he doesn’t suffer from any terminal diseases…”

“Celine, it’s a heart attack,” came the voice of my brother through the phone. He sounded as dumbfounded as I was.

A tear couldn’t escape my eyes- it was like all my energy was being used up to try and make sense of this sudden death.  He’s only 57… His son is getting married. His grandson is just a little kid. My aunt doesn’t know how to breathe without him. He can’t be dead. Those thoughts kept repeating, over and over as flashbacks to the last time I saw him came rushing back.

“Beeseh, sushi dinner is on you,” he said as he sipped on his arak.

“Done deal, I promise Jean next time I am in Beirut.”

There never will be a next time.

Even on the plane to Beirut my senses were numb… Those same chains of thought kept whirling around like a violent tornado.

Fifty-seven. Son getting married. My aunt can’t breathe without him. His grandson is just a kid.

My aunt Dolly and Jean were lovebirds… They did everything together, my aunt doesn’t even sip her morning coffee without him- they lived a simple and humble life, and built a beautiful little family in Aleppo. 

As a husband he made my aunt feel like a real queen and his compassion was only surpassed by his sense of humor.

As a father he raised two brave boys, Rami and Naji, instilling them with strength, courage and humility.  

The moment the car pulled up on the street where Dolly and her family live my nerves shot electric pulses, paralyzing my entire body. I wasn’t ready.

Sixty seconds later, my nerves surrendered as the weight of my aunt slumped on my shoulder – she was shattered, and nothing could repair her.

When my mom hugged her sister I didn’t know who to comfort, a sister who was worried about the state of her older sibling, or a wife whose other half lays cold in a hospital bed.

Rami, his eldest son, was on the brink of complete breakdown. When I hugged him close I could feel the anger radiating from his body- he pulled me away and I could barely see his eyes and every vein in his face stuck out like a rugged road on a mountainous terrain.

When the family fled Aleppo in 2012 after strife broke out in its streets, Rami, with his wife Carla and new born baby boy Jean, lived together with his parents under a single roof in Lebanon.  Eventually Dolly and Jean moved next door and the two men had to figure a way to support the family- but it was never easy.

My uncle, Bishop Joseph, who flew in from Athens, was our North Star; his words tried to calm the tempest of sobs that enveloped the house. 

“He is at peace now… and you know that he didn’t suffer even in his last moments on Earth… know he is in good Hands, he is in God’s hands…”

But I know he was masking his own heartbreak.

Jean and my uncle were very close- they used to always joke around together and Jean was the fix-it man, anything that needed repairing or mending whether at my Teta’s house or the church he would fix it.

The entire family was there. I met my cousin’s fiancé for the first time- I was supposed to meet her in a bride’s glow; instead I saw her gripping Naji’s arms, in red bloodshot eyes. This must have been all too shocking and confusing for her… as it was for everyone else.

“Jean is gone…” is all I kept hearing my aunt say, “Beeseh, Jean is gone.”

When we were kids spending summers in Aleppo at my grandparent’s house, Jean was like my bodyguard against the bully-boy trio, Salim, Rami and Naji.

“Beeseh tell me which one of them is bothering you and I will kick their little behinds!”

But this man had the kindest eyes and sweetest smile, so it was hard to even take his threats with an ounce of fright.


The funeral was on Friday May 19.

White roses adorned the alter, encircling the wooden casket mounted on a tabletop.  Each arrangement carried a message from different members of his family.

“Habibi Jido, your little grandson Jano”

“To my loving father, your son Rami”

“To my darling husband, your loving wife Dolly”

Jean’s brother, the Bishop of the Roman Catholic Church, delivered the funeral mass, along with my uncle and twelve other priests. There he was, Father Najib, a strong beacon of faith and courage praying for the salvation of his baby brother’s soul while the corpse lay a meter away from him. 

How do they find strength in the toughest of moments? Faith and belief works in miraculous ways.

I felt Jean’s presence in the stone-walled church while the mass was being held- placing a comforting hand on his sons’ shoulders as their heads bowed down, fighting back tears as their uncle stood at the alter delivering a speech, “He raised two boys, with Christian values…”

For a moment I closed my eyes and was transported back to Syria- sitting in the back of the antique black Mercedes Benz with my cousins and Jean driving through the streets of Aleppo. I realized just how much I have taken for granted, those streets, and now Jean, I would never see again.

The shrieking sound of my aunt pierced through the hymns and snapped me back to the present. They had taken off the lid of the casket, and my aunt rushed to hold her husband’s hand, touching his cold skin, unrelentingly pleading,

“WAKE UP!! Please wake up Jean, wake up!”

I hadn’t noticed just how filled the church was until we followed the casket out into the monastery’s garden. The number of priests, nuns, politicians, and friends that came to pay their respect and offer their condolences must have been in the hundreds. He was clearly a loved man.

We said our final prayers, and buried him beneath the church.  I held tightly onto my Teta’s arms, helping her climb up a set stairs, and between sobs she said,

“You know I lost a daughter when she was only an infant…. And you know your Jido died eleven years ago, but they fell ill and so death saved them from more pain…but Jean wasn’t ill and he wasn’t suffering from anything, but now my daughter will suffer from pain of such a sudden loss and I don’t know how to help her.”

I couldn’t even offer her a single word of comfort.


“People are put on this planet to deliver a message, and once it has been delivered that’s it - their ephemeral life is done and eternal life with God begins,” said one of the priests. His name is Father Jean, and he was one of my aunt’s husband’s closest friends.

That somehow gave me comfort; it gave this “meaningless death” more purpose. So may be this was it- taking his family this far and hoping they are strong enough to figure the rest out on their own…

But my Aunt doesn’t even drink her morning coffee without him; she will never be ready for his loss… whether it happened last Wednesday or it happens hundreds of Wednesday’s later she will never be ready.

“Why couldn’t he wait till our son’s wedding?” she would ask in weeping desperation.

Between every breakdown a memory would sedate Dolly, sometimes she would vocalize it as her words, like a brush, painted a picture of just how tender and compassionate her husband was. She wasn’t angry at the world, she wasn’t angry at what happened… she just missed him so deeply.

“Even when I had the flu and was bed ridden for ten days he would sit by my side, peeling me an orange, making me tea…” she would say with a smile as if he was right there next to her.

Other times she would just drift into her own world and tears would cascade silently like morning due from a blossoming rose.

May be died heartbroken over everything he lost in Syria’s fire: his home, his business, his memories.

We will never know… all we know is that he is gone and life has to go on… and all I can do is hope my aunt and cousins find strength to deal with the loss.

Goodbye Jean, God rest your amazing soul.

Monday, May 16, 2016


She floats, carried by the soft breeze of a summer's day
Passing on whispers that he sent last winter 
Every little lion's tooth dances like a ballerina's ribbon 
Twirls and lifts off 

She brushes against his cheek 
Like a soft kiss of a past lover
And for a moment his mind wonders 
To her soft lips 

She's not a beautiful rose 
Nor a plant with roots 
She dances to the pulses of Mother Nature's breaths
She has no home, or final resting place

a Dandelion 

Wednesday, April 27, 2016


“You know we don’t see color… it’s white light being reflected and absorbed.”

“Yes I know… I passed physics…”

At times he loved how random her thoughts were, but others could't figure them out.

“Well my white light is reflected by you…”

Her eyes caught his for a brisk moment, before they tore away and looked back outside the window.


He had no idea how to say that’s how he felt too. “So I am your rainbow,” was the only words he could blurt.

“Sometimes you’re the absolute dark.”

Thursday, October 29, 2015

It's been a while old friend

It's been a while my friend since I last sat down and wrote to you
How have you been? 
Is this too generic a way to start a conversation with someone I bared my soul to?

I know it's been a while since I scratched at your door needing to just blurt everything out
It's been a while since my words flowed without being edited, amended or stripped down to its raw form.
But you see, old friend, I have been caught up in life... 
I have moved to a new place since we last spoke, and yes it's been going well.
It's hectic at times, lonely at others, and then in those pockets of reflections I feel an overwhelming sense of accomplishment...

You see my dear, I have put aside everything we used to talk about to pave way for what I worked hard for... I talk now of opportunity costs, rather than moments lost. 
I know that one day I will turn to you in need of your soothing touch... 

But for now just dropping by to say hello... I promise to stay in touch and never let you go.

The Cee

My photo
Writing is a vehicle of expression, not impression.