On 4 August 2020, Nabih Tarabay woke up from his afternoon nap. He was alone at home in Dmit, Chouf, 40 kilometers southeast of Beirut. His wife, Lina Abu Hamdan, had left early in the morning to work at St. George Hospital in Beirut, where she had been a maternity-ward nurse since 2017. His three children were each at work. Nabih tidied the house and sat on the couch in the sitting room, waiting for Lina to come home. She usually finished her shift at 19:00 and drove home directly.

At 18:07, Nabih hears the terrifying sound of an explosion. He runs to the kitchen to check the gas canister, thinking it has exploded. He runs out onto the balcony to inspect the apartments belonging to his brothers, who live in the same building. He sees nothing wrong. His phone starts beeping, and he reads and hears messages about a possible assassination in the capital.

He calls Lina multiple times in vain. He sends her a voice message: “For God’s sake, please answer me so I know you are okay”. He starts calling everybody he knows in Beirut. His son Mazen picks up and says he is in Achrafieh heading to his home there. Nabih asks him to go directly to the hospital and check on his mother, who is not answering her phone.

At around 20:00, Nabih receives a call from Mazen: “Mama is dead”. In disbelief, Nabih asks him to activate the camera. On his mobile screen, he sees Lina lying on the floor motionless. His heart sinks. Nabih runs down the stairs to his brother’s apartment, shares the news, and asks to be driven to Beirut.

A couple of hours later, Nabih and his brother arrived at the hospital. Destruction was everywhere. He found his son sitting next to his wife. Mazen, with help from his friends, had carried her down from the maternity ward on the fifth story. Nabih sat on the floor beside them. He hugged and kissed Lina, hoping she would wake up. But she was gone.

Nabih brought Lina back to the village that night and buried her the next day.

Nabih and Lina were married for 34 years. In 1986, after their marriage, they traveled to Abu Dhabi, where they bore and raised their three children. In 2012, after Nabih lost his job, they returned to Lebanon to start from scratch.

“We lived the happiest life”, he said. “I always feel that she is still alive and this is a nightmare. I do not feel she left.”

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

04 . 08 . 2020    18 : 08

04 . 08 . 2020 18 : 08