Once Upon a Time Near Damascus....

... this is what happened. This is a difficult story about an ordinary, courageous man who lived against tremendous odds in a place you have probably never seen.  It is a story that will break your heart as it is still breaking mine.

On January 30, 2012, we awoke to the terrible news that our niece's father had been assassinated in Syria. A gentle man dedicated to bringing babies safely into this world, the doctor probably should have left Homs sometime in the ten months prior as the instability and danger in Syria developed. But even with the urging of his family to get out before the civil unrest escalated, he remained there, because his patients needed him. 

He had been secretly visiting homes of the wounded to treat them in safely.. and he had been helping treat others at the local Red Crescent Hospital, even when other doctors had stopped because of the danger...but on this morning something was different. He received a call to come immediately to the hospital for an emergency, so he went downstairs to his car to drive to the hospital. There he was met by three gunmen who shot him at close range. The shots were heard by his wife and son in the apartment, and his son ran downstairs to find his father had been murdered by the Assad regime, simply for being a doctor

The story began in far happier times when our nephew, studying Middle Eastern culture and languages, spent a few years post-Yale living and learning in Damascus, the cradle of civilization. While there, in arguably one of the word's most romantic cities, he met the love of his life in the beautiful and brilliant young linguist and art professor. A fairy-tale wedding (two actually... one in Homs and one in New York) followed soon after. We spent several wonderful days together as a family in New York, and we loved this gentle doctor's kindness. We loved his beautiful Ukranian wife with her artistic sensibilities and soulful gaze, and were so happy to welcome them into our large, extended family. 

The grief and shock of his death is still palpable, too tender to even talk about. His widow and son were quickly brought to safety here, but must go on living without him. The rupture and loss in their lives is inconceivable to most of us. In the middle of all the busy-ness that our lives have become, a day does not go by that I don't think about what it must be like for his widow to wake up to the sunshine only to  remember suddenly what has happened. 

I am looking into my artistic soul to find ways to connect with his widow and to try to do what I can to  help her. She is a wonderfully talented seamstress; I am an interior designer who loves (covets and hoards?) fabrics of all kinds. She has a sewing machine and I want to work with her to create wonderful pillows out of my stash of antique, vintage and wonderful fabrics. I envision pieced-together pillow covers with trims that tie together the disparate fabrics, much like the life she will have to create for herself in this new land. 

So this is where my spirit has been for these last nine months. I met with a very good friend Saturday who is also a blogger and who is a very wise soul. She urged me to write about this for my blog. I was very hesitant to do so because my blog has always been a "place for people to get away from the everydayness of life and take a little vacation" and about the joy in beautiful things and journeys, but she assures me that it is exactly the thing I need to do. 

The world became a far darker place for my family and although I know there is light to which we should all turn, I also know that it takes time. I just wanted you to know what we've been going through.

I ask you my dear readers for your patience as I find my way back, but I especially ask for your prayers for those of my family who are closest to the kind doctor... his wife, his son, his daughter, his son-in-law... that they can find  some peace in their souls for their searing loss. And that the ongoing nightmare in Syria comes to an end soon. 

Old black and white images are from the Library of Congress;
I selected them because they show Damascus in happier times...

the few decades after the turn of the last century 

before the French Mandate began in 1920. 
I think they evoke a sense of innocence and simplicity which is
being lost every day now in Syria. 

thanks for visiting... Kit

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