Pink – A Short Movie by Lebanese High School Students Inspired by This Blog

Little did I know back when I wrote about my mother’s cancer diagnosis in October that it would inspire a couple of Lebanese students from Batroun to turn my post (click here) into a short movie of sorts.

But Rita Assal and Steve Khattar, helped by a few of their friends including my brother, did. Rita Assal and Steve Khattar are senior (terminale) students at St. Joseph School – my old school – in Batroun. They both want to get into movie-making and I wish them the best of luck in their future endeavors.

They will also be hosted on LBC this coming Monday on the show “Helwi el Hayet” (or whatever it’s called nowadays) whose producers were very impressed with their work.

The video itself is not perfect but that doesn’t matter. What matters is the ambition behind it – the fact that with limited equipment and expertise, students who had never learned movie-making before were able to shoot, edit and have voice overs done. I am also flattered that mom’s story was the catalyst that led to this.

I leave you with Pink:

22.

As my friends sat around me singing happy birthday to you on that cold Saturday night which wasn’t even technically my birthday, I felt happy. The rain glistened off the window in front of me, it was cold outside but I felt the warmth of the party that was celebrating me turning 22.

I wish I knew in that moment that some of those friends were not there to stay. I wish I knew in that moment what year awaited me as I blew off those candles and people applauded.

/Trust.

I was standing alone in a crowded room on a cold February night and I was just realizing I knew absolutely no one there even those people whom I thought I knew all too well. And they’re not speaking to me, pretending like they didn’t know me. The fake smiles, the fake truths, the fake nods, the contest of who’s acting like they could care less… I had gotten tired of them all. The amount of insecurity that people had was way too unacceptable for me to handle anymore. And as everyone smiled and hugged each other, I started wondering: what did I do wrong not to be the one being welcomed like this?

It took some time for me to realize that I had done nothing wrong at all. It took some time for me to realize that keeping your guard up is a necessity. Trusting people easily should never be a possibility because the amount of assholes in this world is way too high. I realized I shouldn’t be surprised to have been let down because your expectations out of others towards you are very rarely met. So you do your best because you hope that this would somehow return good upon you. But you expect nothing.

Even people whom you thought would never ever disappoint you end up doing so. And they throw around lame excuses to justify doing so but you would have reached a point where you couldn’t care less anymore.

The theory is easy. The practical aspect of it is still a work in progress.

The saddest part though is that for a while after that I had to fight the urge to pick up the phone and call.

Foreign Home.

Your home away from home where you are foreigner and yet you fit like a glove to your hand. The lack of complexity with people. The lack of the need to be two-faced in order to get ahead. I remember the great people I met all too well. I remember the good times I shared with them. I remember the places I went through. I remember standing in front of that Royal Palace and feeling infinitely happy. I remember sitting under the Eiffel Tower on a warm Paris night. I remember walking through a cemetery where people I could only dream of approaching were laid to rest. I remember being at the place where the world’s major decisions are taken. I remember Porte des Postes. I remember Cormontaigne. I remember the grey August clouds overcast on the city as I saw it from the ICU of the hospital where I had spent most of my time being treated like a colleague. I remember those walks I took just to be alone amid the greatness of the place whose air I breathed. And I remember her with her blond hair and red lips and that rainy night in the streets of Lille.

So Small.

It’s easy to get lost inside your own problems which always seem so big at the time they’re happening. It’s very easy to make them seem like they are the worst thing that could ever happen to a person. It’s very easy to over dramatize them: why me?

But on a Monday, in a waiting room at a hospital in France, I realized how pitiful it is of me to dwell on the friends that were no longer there, on the grades that weren’t that good, on the things that I could’ve done. I saw people trying to convince that twenty year old boy of the need to cling to life as much as possible as his body rejected the heart transplant he had spent the previous year undergoing. And I realized then, as I tried to get him to feel better, that my problems are just so small.

Diagnosed.

She’s not invincible. She’s not going to be here forever. She’s weak. Her own body is killing her. As you look upon the worried face of the woman who gave birth to you, it can’t but kill you inside to see her hurting and to know her thoughts are about the potentiality of her not being there for you anymore. And you go in with her to her surgery because you know that being there for her will make all the difference. And it almost kills you to see her there, a shell of the person that she is, because of the drugs they injected into her veins. But you know it’s all for the best. And your senses perk up when the surgeon is stunned to find the procedure he had thought would be fairly straightforward was not. And your worry increases when you find out that the cancer was not as localized as they thought it was. Then when she wakes up from the anesthesia and the first faint word upon her lips when she sees your face is “habibi,” and despite the severity of it all, your worries in the world subside for just one minute.

Even thought she might lose her hair. And even though she might lose her weight. You’d still do anything for her to be there for you. And it may be selfish but it’s really not because you know that there’s nothing more she’d want as well.

Life/

Despite your guard being up, some people roll Into your life who end up surprising you. And you feel happy about them being there. things end up getting better for you and you remember the good times you spent and you realize that you regret nothing at all. You find the family which you had taken for granted will always be there for you. You meet new family members who were taken away from you by life and and time space and you find more in common with them than you’ve thought possible. You grow, you become more critical, you stand up for what you believe in. You take things in and hope that your life isn’t going to waste.

At least now you know where the 13 in State of Mind comes from. And right now, I’m felling 22 one last time, one last day. And thank God for that. Hello November 13th. Hello year 23.

A Pink October Diagnosis

She was sitting in the doctor’s clinic waiting. Who knew it’d take that long… and who knew anyone could be that nervous. She was transfixed by the tiles in front of her. She never thought she’d be in this situation. It had been three years.

The doctor called her name and she slowly walked the few steps to the door where she knew her life might change in a heartbeat. She sat down with her husband by her side. She grabbed his hand. She had never been this afraid. Not when her brother was killed. Not when she got the news that her father had died, back when she was a new nineteen year old bride.

She remembered that day two weeks prior when her sons nagged her head off to go to a hospital and do a test she was putting off for three years now. She remembered how she nervously received the results that said further examinations need to take place. She remembered how she had booked a biopsy appointment and how afraid she was when she went inside those surgery halls and waited for something she never thought she’d do.

The doctor approached her then and administered an anesthetic. He asked her to look away. But it was too late. She had seen that gun and that needle and they were going to go in there and she was going to suffer like she never did before. The pain was tolerable. The idea of it was horrible. But she survived. What she didn’t know however was that the ten days she was going to go through in order to get the results were going to be worse.

She didn’t eat. She didn’t drink. She didn’t sleep. She’d wake up early on some days and sit in the living room to cry. She didn’t think anyone would know. But her son did because he’s as light a sleeper as she is. She wasn’t convinced that the reassuring words the doctor had given her were genuine. She wasn’t convinced by the pep talks her family was giving her. The only thing that would give her a peaceful state of mind was a piece of paper which held that sentence she longed for: Negative. And she was never happier about the prospect of hearing the word no.

The doctor spoke and she was unwillingly tuning him out. She had known it wasn’t good news when her husband called a couple of hours earlier and shouted at the secretary in order to get through to him after he had seen his wife go to hell and back waiting for the results that they both knew were available, only to see the look upon his face change for a fraction of a second before he regained composure and tell her that they need to go see the doctor. Why would the doctor want to see them if it weren’t bad?

And she cried without wanting to. Tears streamed down her face and she couldn’t stop them. The doctor uttered those two words. “Breast cancer.” And she felt her whole world tumbling around her. Her husband, her three boys, her mother, her sister…. They would all lose her. But then the doctor asked her to regain composure because it wasn’t all bad. The cancer was still in a very early stage and perfectly treatable. The few cells that threatened her life had a treatment course to them that could be easily planned out. She needed to stay strong in order to beat them.

So she decided that being afraid and weak wouldn’t get her anywhere. She decided she wasn’t going anywhere and she was sure as hell not letting a capsule containing a few malignant cells stand in her way.

I’m not sure where my mother would have been if I hadn’t convinced her to do a mammography this year. I’m not sure what would have happened if she had waited one more year. Odds are I wouldn’t have had a mother that wanted to hug me whenever she saw me, despite my efforts not to let her, if that had happened. Odds are I wouldn’t have had a mother constantly worrying about anything and everything every single waking moment of every day. Odds are I wouldn’t have had a mother who loved me unconditionally and never saw anything wrong in me. Odds are I wouldn’t have one of the few people in this world that mean more to me than this world itself.

I will not bore you with science that you will never care about. Knowing that women over the age of 30 have an increased risk of breast cancer especially if they had never had children is irrelevant. People fall through statistical cracks all the time and they’re gone before you know it. You never think that something like this would happen to you until it does. You hear those stories about other families having family members getting these cancer diagnoses but you always have the idea that you live behind a protective capsule that will never be broken by those deadly cells. Until it does. And that’s what I’m sure my mother thought long before she was diagnosed.

The only thing I ask of you is to get your mother and loved ones to see a doctor this time of year. Getting a mammography is an examination which would be uncomfortable for only a few minutes but it may save their lives.

Here’s to our mothers being there and staying next to us – despite their ungodly stubbornness and their resiliency to never take care of themselves the way they’d do of us. But we love them anyway because there’s no one else in the whole world who will love you like your mother does.

Ronan (Lyrics) – Taylor Swift

Ronan is the new Taylor Swift song that was debuted at the “Stand Up For Cancer” event. It is inspired by a blogpost that Maya Thompson, the mother of 4 year old Ronan Thompson, wrote after her son passed away last year after struggling with neuroblastoma.

This is her blog (click here). All proceeds from the sales of this single will go to cancer research so you can get the single off iTunes here.

I remember your barefeet down the hallway,
I remember your little laugh
Race cars on the kitchen floor
plastic dinosaurs
I love you to the moon and back

I remember your blue eyes
looking into mine
like we had our own secret club
I remember you dancing before bedtime
then jumping on me waking me up
I can still feel you hold my hand
little man, and even the moment I knew
you fought it hard like an army guy

Remember I leaned in and whispered to you
come on baby with me, we’re gonna fly away from here
you were my best four years

I remember the drive home when the blind hope turned to crying and screaming why
flowers pile up in the worst way
no one knows what to say about a beautiful boy who died
and it’s about to be Halloween you could be anything you wanted if you were still here
I remember the last day when I kissed your face and whispered in your ear

Come on baby with me, we’re gonna fly away from here
out of this curtained room and this hospital gray will just disappear
come on baby with me, we’re gonna fly away from here
you were my best four years

What if I’m standing in your closet trying to talk to you
What if I kept the hand-me-downs you won’t grow into
And what if I really thought some miracle would see us through
What if the miracle was even getting one moment with you

Come on baby with me, we’re gonna fly away from here
Come on baby with me, we’re gonna fly away from here
You were my best four years

I remember your barefeet down the hallway
I love you to the moon and back.