Written by Myrna Mezher Helou
My grandparents, Dr. Youssef Mezher and Asma Hobeika lived in this house since 1934, when they came back from Sudan. My grandfather was one of the surgeons of the British army back when he lived in Sudan.
My mother, Maggy Georges Jureidiny (married to Fouad Youssef Mezher) was born in 1934. She lived in this house ever since she got married in June 1956. I also lived there since February 1963 until I got married in October 1991.
On the 4th of August, my mother was sitting with her back turned to the kitchen wall, when the porcelain tiles were ripped off by the blast and crashed down on her.
She left her home on the 5th of August to the hospital, and never came back to Gemayzé. My mother had avoided speaking to anyone since leaving her house in Gemayzé.
When she came to our house in Baabda, she used to wear her black sunglasses everyday, and stay alone on the balcony crying. I suspected that she wanted to end her life by not taking her medication. She died from an aneurysm on the February 15 of 2021.
Since the death of my mother, I have been constantly haunted by the images of our destroyed house after the explosion. I remember my mother in the middle of the living room screaming in pain at the sight of her devastated house, knowing that she should move away forever. I really wanted her to spend her last days quietly in her home.
She lost everything she cherished after the brutal blast, that blew her house as well as her memories. She totally lost her markers and died from sadness 6 months later, on the 15th of February 2021.
Before her death, my husband Dr. Henri Carmello Hélou and myself, with the help first of the “BLUE SHIELDS” NGO and the “BEB W CHEBBEK” NGO, we fixed the exterior doors and windows of the house, that were all blown out by the explosion.
We were also trying to find more funding from Arc En Ciel and the Lebanese Red Cross to help fix the internal walls and doors of my mother’s dwellings so she could come back back to her home. Unfortunately, she did not want to live anymore after such a trauma.
Looking today at the houses within the perimeters bordering the port of Beirut, the houses that were destroyed on August 4, and which were, later on, superbly restored, no one could ever imagine the trauma of the people who lived there, nor feel their suffering at that time, or appreciate the yearning. They had to live with it and accept the fact that they are leaving their homes forever.
I tried for a long time to get used to the idea that the house no longer belongs to us. That my mother no longer lives there. I’ve tried to walk around the neighborhood a few times to get used to the idea that now new tenants are doing a fantastic job, except I can’t help it. The only thought that comforts me is when I close my eyes and see myself with my parents. Remembering all the cherished memories in our house before the explosion in August 4.