On August 4, 2020, at 15:00, Shoushan Bezdjian entered the bedroom of her daughter Jessica to wake her up. Jessica, a nurse at the St George Hospital, had come home from her night shift that morning at around 8:00 and gone directly to sleep. She left her bed, showered, ate, and sat on the balcony waiting for her sister, Rosaline, who had taken her car to work that morning. 

At 17:30, Rosaline arrived home and Jessica left for work. Half an hour later, she sent a message to her mother; she had arrived at the hospital. 

At 18:07, Jessica sends her mother another message: an angel emoji. Seconds later, a deafening double explosion shakes the city. 

At their apartment in Mezher, 10 kilometers north of Beirut, Shoushan’s heart skips a beat. She screams the name of her husband, Georges, who is standing meters away. “Jessy is hurt,” she says. She grabs her phone and tries to call Jessica several times in vain. 

Georges and Rosaline rush out of the house and drive to the hospital, leaving Shoushan at home. She calls a friend of Jessica whose house is near the hospital. She asks him to go to the hospital and check on her daughter, who is not answering her phone

Feeling helpless,  Shoushan decides to follow Georges and Rosaline. Her neighbor offers to drive her. They reach Bourj Hammoud to find the roads blocked. She jumps out of the car, stops a moped on the street, and begs the rider to give her a ride. He drops her near the hospital and walks through destruction for a few minutes before reaching the hospital. She walks around searching for her daughter until she finds Georges and Rosaline in the emergency room, sitting on the floor. Jessica lies still beside them. She looks like a “sleeping angel”.

Earlier that evening, Jessica had walked through the sliding doors at the entrance to St. George Hospital. She usually arrived an hour early to read her patients’ files and put on her uniform. As she took a few steps into the hall, the sliding doors exploded, sending shattered glass into her and others nearby. She was killed instantly.

For months after Jessica’s death, Shoushan kept seeing white butterflies everywhere: at home, on the streets, flying in front of the family’s car every time they drove. On November 7 – Jessica’s birthday – Shoushan, Georges, and Rosaline went to the graveyard. Within minutes, a white butterfly flew by them and landed on Jessica’s grave.

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

04 . 08 . 2020    18 : 08

04 . 08 . 2020 18 : 08