On 4 August 2020, late in the afternoon, Tania Daou had an appointment with her dermatologist at St. George Hospital. Her husband, Jean-Frederic Alam, drove her to the hospital. They had made a pact that every time one of them had a doctor’s appointment, they’d go together.

At 18:00, when they had just finished the consultation, they received a message on the family WhatsApp group from their oldest son Cedric, who was telling them about fireworks at Beirut Port. He was at home in Baabda with his brother Yann. A few minutes later, he sent another message in French: “Do you love me?” His father replied, “Atomically”.

At 18:07, a double explosion shakes their home. Cedric grabs his phone and calls his father. No one answers. He tries a few more times. Tania picks up the phone screaming, “Your father is not breathing anymore! Get us help… no one is helping us here”. Cedric and Yann call their family doctors, relatives, the police, the Red Cross – anyone who can help their parents.

Ten minutes later, they receive a message on the family group from their father saying, “Everything is fine, everything is fine. We are coming home”. The two brothers are confused but relieved. They call their mother. Tania answers and says, “No one is helping us. It is over. He hasn’t been breathing for a while. He is covered in blood. Keep trying to get help, but I think it is over… light a candle”.

Tanya and her husband Freddy were getting ready to leave the doctor’s clinic when they heard the first explosion. Freddy grabbed his phone and sent a message to the family group telling them everything was okay and that they were heading home. As he pressed “Send”, Tanya saw the window changing shape. She heard a suction followed by a terrifying sound. The next thing she knew was that she was on the floor. The doctor lay under the table. They were both covered in blood. Beside her, Freddy was not moving. It was only after ten minutes that Freddy’s last message reached his sons. The internet connections had cut off.

Tanya stayed beside her husband until a family doctor arrived. He checked Freddy’s pulse; there was none. He was dead.

Freddy used to send messages to Tanya all the time asking, “Did I tell you that I loved you today?” He was his children’s best friend.

“He was loved. It is as if he was a shooting star. He gave us so much love for so many years, and then he left”, Tanya says.

A minute of mourning for the victims of the Beirut Port explosion.

04 . 08 . 2020    18 : 08

04 . 08 . 2020 18 : 08