How Did It Get So Late So Soon?

“How did it get so late so soon?” Dr. Seuss


At some point in our lives we have all had a rough time. Some more than others. I grew up listening to my parents’ and grandparents’ stories. Their stories were not like anyone else’s stories of happiness and childhood dreams.

It’s true that I was born and raised in Lebanon. But my grandparents came to Lebanon as refugees. Together with all the residents of Musa Dagh, now belonging to Turkey, they were forced to leave everything behind. With the help of the French they landed in this place called Ainjar where in the beginning tents were set up for them. None of them knew or spoke the language (Arabic) of the new country. My dad was ten years old and my mom was almost eight.

So I grew up listening to my grandmother and grandfather telling me stories of their homeland, of what they had there, of what they had to leave and what they had to go through during those first years in Lebanon in order to survive. I listened to their stories of loss and survival and it seemed to me that even after they settled down in this new country they were still living in another time and another place.

Later on when I became a teenager the civil war started in Lebanon. In the beginning no one knew what was happening or how long it would last. But when it dragged on and on and with time it became impossible to go on living in those horrible conditions, I got married and moved to Dubai with my husband. I used to long for the friends and family I lost and the people and the things I left behind. Even though I was living in a better place and in better conditions, I was angry and sad and I wished that it never happened. In the words of J.R.R. Tolkien:

“I wish it need not have happened in my time,” said Frodo.
“So do I,” said Gandalf, “and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.” 

I lived in Dubai, I had a family, a job, and a home to come to. But I had no connection with the place. It was as if I was in the transit lounge of an airport, waiting for the next plane out. And when finally I found my home, I lost my significant other. So all these times, all these years, I was busy working and preparing for a future and never anticipating, not even once, that there could be no such thing as a future. Rose Kennedy wrote:

“It has been said, ‘time heals all wounds.’ I do not agree. The wounds remain. In time, the mind, protecting its sanity, covers them with scar tissue and the pain lessens. But it is never gone.” 

Time does not heal any wounds. On the contrary it creates more wounds so in your dealing with your new pain you sort of put the old ones aside for a while, and there comes a time in your life when:

“The world gets quiet and the only thing left is your own heart. So you’d better learn the sound of it. Otherwise you’ll never understand what it’s saying.” Sarah Dessen


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8 Responses to How Did It Get So Late So Soon?

  1. A very open and moving piece. Some of us lose our home through no fault of our own, some because it is the ‘right’ choice and others because ‘home’ is a person and they leave. I will be pondering this for quite some time.

  2. adelnehmeh says:

    You hit the right nerve there.
    I have been following you blog for while now and have been going through similar stuff.
    I too am born to an Armenian mother whose grandparents left everything behind them in Armenia and settled in Anjar.
    I too left Lebanon in search for a bigger world and am still abroad for the temptation of a better future and employment.

    Here is the question: What makes it so hard for you to go back to Lebanon where your heart belongs and longs for? In you previous post ‘ Was it worth it?’ you made a clear point.

    If the money, security and employment are not worth it, why not return to where the heart heals and strives?

    I am trying to answer those questions myself…

    • chichikir says:

      You know why I can’t go back? Because every time I visit I feel like an outsider. I don’t feel a connection with the people in the sense that I have lived outside for so long and faced different challenges and worries every day. Maybe I shouldn’t have moved at all…. 😦

      • adelnehmeh says:

        I face that dilemma every day, and with every day that passes while I am abroad I feel more guilty.

        I have only been living abroad for 3 years, and the first 2 years I made sure to visit every year, as I could not afford more and I live in USA.

        Last time, exactly a year ago, when I visited, I felt like an outsider and this is why I started my blog and you can read the “Why this Blog” and understand where I am coming from.

        I want to go back but I know that the longer I spend abroad, the harder it will become. So am I doing myself a favor by staying abroad?

        On the other hand, the situation is so bad right now that going back would be like taking a step in utter darkness, while blindfolded and someone telling me that there are mines along the way.

        I also question whether I should have left. Leaving your country in one of those things that are irreversible.

      • chichikir says:

        Adel I read your blogs as I have read “Why this Blog” and it has crossed my mind more than once to ask about your mother, who you say is from Ainjar too. When we left Lebanon in 1984, we left on a one year contract but the situation didn’t encourage us to go back. Year after year we hoped to return until in 2005 when we put an end to that dream making the future of our children a priority. I wish I can help you with that, but think about it this way: that you have a chance to dream big and achieve and why not live your life with some dignity and respect. Wish you all the best

      • adelnehmeh says:

        This is how we all end up abroad in the first place. WE want a better chance, to go beyond the 10,452 and see what opportunities await. We convince ourselves that it is only temporary, but once you swim in the ocean, it is hard to settle for the lake again.

        There is no answer, there is no right or wrong. What works for you might not work for me or someone else. We all have our priorities, our plans and our aspirations.

        I daily ask myself and evaluate why should I go back when the future looks so bright for me abroad. I do not wish to settle where I am right now, but the world is so big so it does not have to be here or there, it could be anywhere.

        to tell you the truth, I am an only child and it is hard for me to simply admit to the schism between me and the two angels that dedicated their lives and sacrificed everything to provide me with a decent future. I hold that as a top priority in my life, to be there next to them when they need me. As a human, I also value our responsibility to make a difference and try to leave the world a better place. This is why I feel I would rather say I tried to do something instead of surrendering and saying, nothing could have been done.

        who knows, I am still a young single man. things could change so quickly….

      • chichikir says:

        Adel You have every right to live a dignified life. Why not try to make the most of what you have. Once you are out, even if you go back you’ll feel like an outsider. Maybe we should not have left in the first place. Who knows? As you said, you’re young and you have dreams and ambitions, work on making them come true. I wish you all the best always 🙂

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