A father is the pillar and backbone of his family. A father cannot be replaced; he is the heart and the leader.
76-year old Chawki Merheb was this and even more to his wife Fidaa, and children pharmacists Mazen and Wael whom he raised to become generous, honorable, and modest men.
Chawki was a religious man. His chief priority was the wellbeing of his family. He was a dedicated business owner, he arrived as early as 6:00 AM to the gas station he owned in Mar Mikhael, and only left at around 10:00 PM.
He refused that his children leave the country, and he always told them that he built a life in Lebanon for them to stay around.
On August 4, he went into his office at 6:00 PM and lit a candle to pray, like he would do every day. A huge blast was heard in Beirut, and he was wounded. The gas station workers rushed to save him, and took him to the hospital in Dawra, aboard a vegetables truck.
Mazen and Wael followed him to the hospital and recognized him from his pants and his gold keychain. He was unconscious; his face was swollen, covered with blood.
An X-Ray showed he was suffering from multiple fractures to the skull, in addition to a brain hemorrhage. At night, he was admitted to the Intensive Care Unit where he stayed for the next 14 days.
Although his doctor told the family that Chawki might stay in a coma for a long period of time, Mazen and Wael still talked to him every day hoping for a response.
On August 8, Mazen asked his dad if he would want to meet his future grandchildren, if he would go with him to ask for a girl’s hand in marriage, if he would dance at his wedding, and two tears fell down Chawki’s cheeks. He opened his eyes and moved his body…
Chawki stayed in the intensive care unit for a whole week. He was suffering from multiple fractures, yet he was following the news on different media channels.
Because of his serious medical condition, and for his own safety due to the rapid spread of covid-19, especially after the explosion on August 4, doctors decided it would be best to discharge him, and he would be back three days later for a CT scan to follow up on his head injuries.
On August 18, Chawki arrived home and had lunch with his family. It wasn’t easy because of his wounded teeth and lips stitches. He went into his room to rest, but came back out complaining of the pain. His son called the doctor who asked them to come to the hospital. While waiting for the ambulance to arrive, Chawki succumbed to the successive strokes in his heart and lungs. He spit out blood and died in his bed with his family around him.
In a garden, you would always pick the most beautiful flower, and in Beirut’s explosion, most beautiful souls of all ages have passed. What comes as a consolation for Chawki’s family is that they deeply believe he is in an incomparable place that God made for those he loves.