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My name is Shaimaa and I have lost my family in a matter of seconds

My name is Shaimaa and I have lost my family in a matter of seconds

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Saturday 17 September 202212:58 pm
إقرأ باللغة العربية:

أنا شيماء العيسوي... فقدت عائلتي كلّها في لحظة واحدة

To the soul of my dear family

Her brain has tricked her for years, for a very long period of time since she reached the age of 25. Shaimaa lost everything, literally everything. She has lost to the extent that she is no longer able to calculate her losses.

When it comes to her actual age, Shaimaa considers herself really young but is very intellectually mature with the wisdom of people in their forties, the energy of those in their thirties, as excited as a 20-year-old, and with the heart of a child. She has never reached an impasse, for “Shaimaa is capable of anything”… Since her childhood, her mother has told her so almost daily until she believed her, and until these words have become her reality. However, neither Shaimaa nor her mother knew that all of that has happened to train and prepare her to the big situation in which she will lose everything in a matter of seconds.

My name is Shaimaa Al-Issaoui and I have lost everything in a matter of seconds

I do not remember much. All I remember is a tennis competition with my brother and his colleagues, a cold drink, going home quickly, a very sweet conversation with my brother, one that was full of tenderness, security and comfort that he always provides, a deep sleep, a heavy door-knocking, and people shouting and screaming: “Wake up! The house is crumbling on us.” It was a mix of confusion, fear, terror, fast decisions, unbalanced movements, foggy vision caused by anti-allergy drugs and faces I know but cannot distinguish due to darkness, dizziness and horror.

I remember the face of my dearest brother especially, his head gesture and voice saying: “Shoushou run! We will follow you.” My brain was doing its best by rapidly calculating the things we need and precisely locating them whereas my body was accurately responding to the brain’s commands and collecting everything. By doing so I was hoping we will be the first ones to arrive to the front door and I was avoiding being an obstacle or a reason of the death of any of my dear family members. My brain and body were in complete harmony under the guidance of the survival instinct that was activated to bring out the best in us.

And just like that, Shaimaa lost all her family as their home collapsed on their heads, no warnings no nothing, just another collapsed building destroying a whole family.

I rapidly leaped the stairs of five long stories in a very short period of time. I had no sooner reached the building entrance than a huge piece of rubble fell in front of me. I escaped and barely survived. I got out of the building, and another piece of rubble of a similar size followed me. I was received by my neighbors who tried to reassure me. I was meters away from the entrance at most, vigilantly observing it. My brain was counting every second that passes assuring me that my family will appear safe in a second. At least my brother would be among the first ones to escape due to his young age and fitness compared to the rest. One of them will definitely escape right now, because they will not leave me alone at dawn in the streets, among all these strangers, half naked. The thirty seconds that followed felt like an eternity. Suddenly, the building collapsed like an iceberg that was directly hit by the sun. On the spur of a moment, the building melted before my eyes, and the dust filled the air as it filled my throat, lungs, eyes, hair and clothes.  My cat, which I brought with me, ran away, and the last hope of seeing my family again has dissipated. The building crumbled and fell before my eyes, and so did my whole life.

There have been many theories and explanations to what happened, a lot of sympathy, pity, weeping and wailing followed by the morgue, screams, and a funeral. I was then taken to my grandfather’s house where I was told by everyone that this is my new home. I was confused, and I was urgently asking everyone who looks at me: “What is this?” My mind could process anything but the fact that I had lost everything. A new Shaimaa was born: One that is brilliant and quick-witted, a new girl that makes the right calls. However, she was unable to process the idea of losing everything.

My name is Shaimaa and I am furious

In the beginning of the second chapter of his book “A Grief Observed”, C. S. Lewis denounces the self-expressions he had written in the first chapter of the same book – revealing a time difference between the two chapters – about his sadness because of his wife’s death, ignoring her suffering and the relief she felt by dying.  I wondered: is death considered painful for the deceased or for those around him?

My dear mother had suffered from rheumatoid arthritis for almost 12 years. Since the beginning of her illness, she has experienced constant heavy ache in the morning and swelling and has screamed of pain every night. Should I then change my mind concerning her death? A big no. I want my mother by my side, even if she was a scuttle of bones. She will always be the one I long for, crying, screaming and repeating: “I want my mom”, just as I called her after the building had collapsed. Despite everything, I kind of feel consoled by the fact that she somehow got some rest after her long journey of excruciating pain. I even feel consoled for the loss of my father, for he had long lived and had gotten enough of the life pleasures he experienced. He had gotten one fruit of each tree in the garden of life and he was just waiting for the end, as he used to say.

My true stumbling block was my beloved brother, my guardian angel, the source of my safety and bliss in life. My brave brother had lived for his family more than he had lived for himself. He kept repeating: “One lives to assure better life conditions for his family” until he died in a dramatic but brave way that resembles the characteristics he had. He would have been satisfied by this end. As for me, I refuse to put end to this story. I feel angry at fate for depriving this angel of life so early. I feel angry, because he had experienced nothing. I feel angry, because he did not have the daughter he wished would look like me. I am furious, for he was taken away from me!

I am Shaimaa Al-Issaoui and I have two personalities: before and after the loss

Writing this whole part has taken me few hours from a night that is similar to those nights full of nervous breakdowns. However, it literally took me weeks to figure the title out. In fact, describing the change you go through after the death of a loved one –what about losing your whole family- is hard to put into words. You feel that your world has turned upside down and you constantly fear everything.

Shaimaa feels constantly scared. Her therapist tells her that her brain has adapted to a "survival mode", handling things the same way it did when she was running away from her home. Her brain handles problems and threats the same way her legs did when she was running quickly but intelligently. Despite it all and the fact that Shaimaa completely knows that she is safe now, she is always accompanied by fear, simply because those in whom she was taking refuge from life, its cruelty and its constant harm have disappeared in one moment, and that she must face everything, all by herself.

In fact, there was just one type of fear that Shaimaa had not experienced. It was the fear of loss. She used to be terrified of losing to the extent that she had never thought that she would one day lose her beloved brother. She had never had that idea, not even for a second. She used to seek refuge from the accursed Satan. This higher level of denial is accompanied with bigger fear. Today, Shaimaa fears nothing, for she is sure that there is nothing more she can loses. Therefore, there is no need to be scared. That fear has created a new person out of her, one that is brave, tough, stubborn, wise, a lonely monster who constantly feels incomplete.

My name is Shaimaa Al-Issaoui and I have really nothing to say

This article has exceeded the number of words allowed, and I had to redact big parts of it. Despite that I do not know what I should say? Why should I say it? Have I succeeded in writing it? All of these are questions whose answers are so hard to find, especially for someone who suffers from PTSD, who is on psychiatric medications that seem useless. However, sharing a small part of my story feels relieving. It's the urge to shout, "I'm here, and it is really hurting." 

*The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect Raseef22

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