In Loving Memory

My cousin Josette Cherfane Mezher passed away on Sunday, May 20, 2018, after battling with a very rare form of cancer. Years before, when it first showed its ugly face, she had been treated successfully. But it resurfaced toward the end of her pregnancy in December, and after numerous operations and three months of hospitalization, she breathed her last stifled breath. She was only 33.

I still remember meeting you for the first time, in 1991, on my first conscious trip to Lebanon. I asked you whether you spoke English, but you shook your head, so we quickly fell into Arabic. We wore matching Where's Waldo? T-shirts my mom had gotten us from California. I saw you wield a fork with your right hand, and I was so envious that I trained myself to do the same, even though I am a lefty. To this day, I continue to grasp fork and spoon with my right hand because of you.

We instantly became best friends. You're the first person I exchanged letters with, and you'd write back from across the seas with elaborate illustrations to animate your words. We'd swap frivolous little trinkets that I've held in safekeeping to this day. On summer trips to Lebanon, we'd meet at Teta's house, lock ourselves in one of the bedrooms, and gossip and giggle hysterically for hours.

I will never forget your contagious laughter. I will always remember how impassionedly you loved, especially your nieces and nephews. I keep bursting into tears when I think of your beautiful offspring, three-year-old Charbel and four-month-old Sasha, whom you leave behind, but they will surely perpetuate your joyful spirit and love of life. They are you in the flesh here on this wretched Earth with us.

I'm not proud that our last photos together are a decade old. I'm not proud of how circumstances threw us into different worlds as we grew older. I was overjoyed to reconcile with you three months ago at your house, when you pressed my hand fiercely into yours and looked me endearingly in the eyes. I could see the Holy Spirit awash in you. You were fearless and bold even in the face of tribulation.

Pictured here at my aunt's house some 10 years ago

From left: Josette, me, and her brother Ibrahim with his son Georges

Josette doted on her nephews and nieces

Today and heretofore, I will evoke your memory in my prayers. I implore our Lord to give strength to my aunt -- your mother, my cousins -- your siblings, and your husband Joseph. Watch over us, sweetest angel Josette. And smile down upon us from your Heavenly perch.

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Until we meet again, precious Josette


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