Saturday, July 22, 2006

But I haven't seen the cedars yet

Below is an email conversation I have had with a Lebanese reader of my blog who left Lebanon 30 years ago.

Having lived away from Lebanon myself for the early part of my life, I totally relate to the feelings she expresses.

I think her words can be an inspiration to us all. I post our conversation here:

hi ramzi:
I have been in the united states for 30 years. every year i think about going to visit Lebanon. but always something happens. this year my 18 year old daughter who was born in the USA graduated from high school and I had promised her 3 years ago that I will take her to Lebanon for a visit. but circumstances were that she had to go with my 20 year old son alone.
and now she cries that she does not want to leave even though she is scheduled to evacuate tomorrow on 7-20-2006. she keeps telling me but mom I did not see the cedars yet! and that tears my heart up.
(the reader)

Hey (the reader),

That story made me hang my head in sadness. But also in shame. In shame because we the Lebanese have failed Lebanon and failed your daughter. I too was like your daughter, at love with a country I have seen very little of. And when I returned after the war, I was on a constant quest to see, hear, smell Lebanon. To make up for years I could never have had anyway because of the war but still felt I owed.

And now, I have lived here enough to see what I observed rebuilt slowly and day by day destroyed in a single blow. I remember every construction site, every road diversion, every ditch. I remember taking a ride on every one of those bridges when they were fist built. And the innocent children killed were not even born when I first came here.

So, what can I say to you? nothing other than to let Lebanon always be in her heart and in her imagination. Let her fall in love with a Lebanon that neither exists nor could ever exist because it is too perfect for this world. And then let her return here when things are calmer, and let her search for that Lebanon in this Lebanon. She will not find it, but she will fall in love with the next best thing.


P.S. Do you mind if I post this email to my blog? I'd keep out your name and address.

hi ramzi
No i don't mind if you post it and i don't mind putting my name. one recent update: Anthony and Angela stood today in line ( sort of a line if you know what I mean) at the evacuation site for 9 and half hours. after being screened they were given a paper and told to come back tomorrow. so at this moment they are on their way back to my cousin's house in achrafiye.
(the reader)

hi again ramzi
I love the way you talk about Lebanon, ("it is too perfect for this world"). you know it reminded me of something i told my brother yesterday on the phone, I said to him: "I think Lebanon is the fountain of love for the world and where you feel Love, you feel closer to God. That is why the devil is set to destroy it at all cost. when i was still there in 1976-77 I remember feeling that way, even among the bombs and destruction." at this point my brother was silent and then he said you know that makes sense now. the lebanese people feel that Love and they are so determined never to lose hope and I never will either. Once we lose hope and faith then Lebanon will surely perish.
(the reader)
PS: By the way my daughter felt that Love, and I am so thankful.


Blogger overandout said...

Ramzi, these emails mirror the feelings of so many Lebanese and especially expats like me. You made me cry, but then again I am crying over any story related to Lebanon these days. You know what, after reading this post I can only think of one thing: I've never visited Baalbek. I've always tried to make plans to go there but the road trip was too exhausting for me. But now I know that the next time I'm in Lebanon, which will hopefully be as soon as the bombings stop, I will take that trip. I guess we can't take anything for granted, not when you're Lebanese.

8:17 PM, July 22, 2006  
Anonymous Maya said...

"..a Lebanon that neither exists nor could ever exist because it is too perfect for this world. "

Ramzi, thank you so much for these words.

11:59 PM, July 22, 2006  
Blogger inmotion said...

I only found myself in Lebanon after being away for 10 years.

I felt it all as you both said.

I wish I could do more.

I wish I had another chance to be a part of Lebanon. I was just there for in June and I came back and posted about my wonderful trip.

Here I am and I'm wishing the dream wasn't being taken away.

I do believe Lebanon will live on because of the love.

Thanks Ramzi for posting the woman's beautiful email and for sharing it with us.

9:11 PM, July 25, 2006  

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