Category Archives: Personal

A Fatherless Father’s Day

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fathersday

Tomorrow is Father’s Day in Lebanon but this year Dad won’t be around to celebrate it with us. It’s been a month and we miss him terribly. I miss his morning calls, his laughs, his jokes, his advice, his visits…I miss it all, every bit of it. Not an hour goes by when I don’t think of him, think of calling him to just say hello, just talk like we used to. I cannot see how I will ever get over his sudden passing from us. They say time heals all wounds, but this one may just be too deep.

I read a powerful quote this weekend that pretty much sums up what I’m feeling right now:

Losing your father is much more than a sudden emotional blow. It is the slow crumbling of any solid ground to stand on, a virus that dines on your confidence as you age. It is a perpetual state of wondering whether you can live up to his legacy while feeling like you are burying it in the dirt. You lack access to his institutional knowledge, and so you attempt to move forward praying you are not the black stain on his branch of the family tree.

Every now and then, I ask myself or my brothers: Why Dad? What are we going to do now? What can we possibly do to comfort our mom? How can we accept this new “normal” that was imposed on us against our will?

There are no simple answers to these questions. I know this is the time to step up, be more responsible and try to gain some control on life. I am feeling more determined and driven, but at the same time a part of me feels more vulnerable. Words cannot really explain how one’s spirit attempts to muster strength to keep going when bent by tragic life events. Bent…not broken though, and for that, once again, I have to thank you Dad. You taught me everything I know about life, and today, all your teachings and wise words are like whispers in my ear, helping me cope with your loss.

This year of “firsts” won’t be easy. Our first Father’s day without Dad, my brothers’ birthdays, Brian’s first birthday without his grandpa, our first Christmas, first New Year etc.

Father’s Day ads are everywhere this week, a constant reminder that we are fatherless this year. I was shopping for Brian the other day and saw a bib that said “I <3 Jeddo" but I couldn't get myself to buy it. I probably should have and will do so on Thursday, because I want to celebrate every day with Dad even if he's not physically there. bob1

I will keep doing the things he loves most, and keep his memory alive among us forever. I will try to be as nice, friendly and helpful as he was. I will work even harder to support and shoulder the family, be a stepping stone for all as he was for us. I will be resilient and determined and make him proud every single moment of every day. I will celebrate him through the gifts he gave me throughout the years. I will honor him by following his advice as I make my way in this harsh world. I also hope that maybe I can smile no matter how tough life gets, as a tribute to the always smiling husband, father, family man, friend, colleague and extraordinary human being Dad was.

No one ever fully recovers from a parent’s death. I will be grieving tomorrow but I will also celebrate the father that taught me to smile at life and be strong. Tomorrow is an empty Father’s day for me, but it holds a legacy full of happiness, strength, hard work and and unconditional love. I am my father’s son – forever.

Happy Father’s Day to you all!

Like Father, Like Son

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ach2

A week after clinching The 2016 Young Investigator Award, my brother collected two new awards this week: The Humanitas award for being a good human and another award for being an awesome clinician.

He dedicated the Humanitas award to our beloved father, here’s what he had to say:

It was a great honor today to be selected by the MD Anderson Cancer Center Fellowship Program to receive the Humanitas award…thank you to my cofellows (notably John French for the nomination), faculty and mentors for this selection…this award is based on Cicero’s Humanitas definition as a good human being…I dedicate this award to my father Ibrahim Mitri (Bob) who unexpectedly left us way too soon a few weeks ago…if there ever was anyone who loved and cared about people…anyone whom everyone loved…a truly good human being, that was you Dad…thank you for continuing to lead by example..this one’s for you..

Three awards in less than a month and he’s only getting started. Congrats bro!

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#BlogWaladi: Baby Brian’s First F1 Experience

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YAZ_2245 copy Photo Credits: Akl Yazbeck

Prior to the F1 showrun that took place a couple of weeks ago, The Red Bull F1 team made two stops in the Cedars and Byblos. Since I couldn’t take Brian to the show run given how noisy and crowded it will be, I thought of taking him to Byblos where a private shoot was taking place the day before.

I know he’s too young to understand what an F1 car is, but it might take years before we see an F1 car in Lebanon and he might not got the chance to sit in a real Formula 1 car so I had to grab that opportunity and capture the moment.

sleep Waking up

I headed to Byblos early in the morning, had breakfast with Brian at eBaladi and walked around in the souks while waiting for the Red Bull team to arrive. I had to make sure his clothes stay clean before the shoot but it was an epic fail. He spilled water on himself and on my man2oushe so I had to change his diaper and pants later on in the car. Trust me if there’s anything worse than cleaning bottles, it’s changing diapers in the car lol!

As soon as Red Bull got there, it took them almost an hour to bring down the car and decide on a shooting spot. Once done, I waited for instructions to take pictures with the car since no one was allowed to get anywhere near the car.

byblos

Once we were given the green light, Brian & I got a couple of awesome shots with the car and I was even able to put Brian for a few seconds inside the car. He couldn’t care less of course but I’m sure he will look back one day and appreciate these pictures.

YAZ_2222 copy Photo Credits: Akl Yazbeck

YAZ_2240 copy Photo Credits: Akl Yazbeck

Next on the list is taking Brian and the wife to attend an F1 Grand Prix.

YAZ_2228 copy Photo Credits: Akl Yazbeck

Special thanks to the Red Bull Lebanon team and Red Bull for making that happen!

My Brother, Dr. Zahi Ibrahim Mitri, Awarded The 2016 Young Investigator Award

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conquer

Since I keep sharing news about Lebanese shining abroad, I thought it’s about time I brag about my own brother, Dr. Zahi Mitri who was awarded The 2016 Young Investigator Award by the Conquer Cancer Foundation in the United States. “The Young Investigator Award (YIA) provides funding to promising investigators to encourage and promote quality research in clinical oncology”.

My younger brother has always been the family genius. He was always at the top of his class in school, he was always in the top 5 in his biology years at AUB, he aced all his Medicine tests, ranked top 5 in all his Med years, graduated with honors, won the Pen Rose Award at the American University of Beirut, matched with his first choice (Emory University Hospital) where he completed his residency, then moved to MD Anderson, widely regarded as one of the best cancer hospitals in the United States and the World where he completed his fellowship.

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What I love about my brother is that he makes all these achievements look so easy. He used to go out all the time, party, drink, exercise and then come back home and read 500 pages to prepare for his next exam. Even when abroad, he always has time for family and used to look after all of us. He’s also very modest and doesn’t brag about what he does. Aside from being a doctor, he’s also a loving husband and a proud father.

My brother has always been into research since his AUB medicine years and has chosen a difficult field (oncology) that could help improve the lives of millions of people around the world. The CCF Young Investigator Award is aimed to help promising young investigators and some of the brightest minds in clinical and translational cancer research and I’m proud, even though not surprised, to see my brother on that list.

We are all proud of him. My dad was very proud of him and he’d tell everyone about his achievements 🙂

The Conquer Cancer Foundation (CCF) was founded by the foremost cancer doctors of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) to seek dramatic advances in the prevention, treatment and cures of all types of cancer. CCF works to conquer this disease by funding breakthrough cancer research and sharing cutting-edge knowledge with patients and physicians worldwide, by improving quality of and access to care, and by enhancing quality of life for all who are touched by cancer.

An Interview I Did 16 Years Ago

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old interview

I was looking through my father’s papers when I spotted a picture of myself and a small interview I did with a local newspaper. I am not sure if it’s Annahar but the interview was about the Lebanese baccalaureate.

The answer I gave makes me sound like a nerd lol! They probably misunderstood what I said about not being worried about the Lebanese baccalaureate exams. I had just passed the French baccalaureate so I didn’t need to go through the Lebanese one and just went there because my parents wanted me to do. I did end up passing it though.

old interview - Copy

Here’s to All The Super Dads Out There!

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Portrait2

I don’t think there’s anything that can prepare you for the loss of a parent. I surely wasn’t prepared, no one was prepared for my father’s sudden death. It was a large blow for all his friends, colleagues and of course his family. I tried my best to stay strong for my mother and brothers but his death triggered a profound and complicated type of grief. I just couldn’t help crying my heart out when doing the hospital papers, going through the funeral arrangements, selecting and printing a couple of pictures for him and of course the funeral procession.

His loss was extremely difficult but death is part of our life and we need to accept it and move on, for our own sake and the sake of our loved ones. I know it won’t be easy but I want to believe that the most difficult part is behind us and that I must cope with things the way my dad did throughout his life.

My dad also lost his father at a young age, he lost his 22 year old brother as well in a tragic car accident. He lost his house and everything he owned during the war. He lost plenty of friends and family during the civil war. He lost his mother almost 15 years ago. He had to leave his hometown, start all over again, work day and night to provide for us. At one point, he was working 3 jobs yet he’d always come back home smiling. Both my parents sacrificed their best years to raise my brothers and I, to give us the best education and get us whatever we desired. He never complained, he always tried to make the best out of everything and made sure we never argue over anything in the family. He would brag about us every time we graduated or got a new degree. He was the happiest man in the world when my brother got married and then when I did, he was dancing tirelessly all night and welcoming everyone. He flew all the way to the US and cried tears of joy when his first grand child, Sophia was born. When Brian was born, he was on top of the world.

He helped everyone around him in every possible way. He was always friendly, always polite and positive. He’d always throw in a joke to lighten things up. In fact, what has always inspired me to stay positive throughout all these years is my dad first and foremost. We often complain about life and problems around us, but we tend to forget what our parents went through and how our worries are minimal when compared to theirs.

Today marks my third wedding anniversary. I will be accepting condolences instead of celebrating the occasion with my dad and the whole family. Brian’s first birthday also coincides with the 40 day memorial. I don’t believe in coincidences but maybe that’s my dad’s way of telling us to remember him in happy times only and live life to the fullest just like he did.

I am not as strong as my dad was but I’ll try to be. We will try to be as a family and remember the wonderful things we experienced together. Talking about it helps and that’s why I’m writing this post. I always felt more comfortable keeping such personal issues for myself but my first post and the tons of messages that I received helped enormously so I thought of letting it all out.

I hope that the rest of your lives and your loved one’s lives be long, happy and healthy.

I Miss You Dad Already

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20160521_114642

I’m at loss for words right now. I always feared the day that I would lose a close family member but I never imagined it would be that soon. I lost my father this morning, it was the first time he ever gets admitted to a hospital yet he didn’t make it. No signs, no symptoms, no warnings no nothing. He died of a sudden unexpected heart attack. He was only 64.

I lost the most important man in my life. He was a proud father, the happiest grandfather, a hard working employee and he was loved by all. He never complained about anything, he was always smiling and positive.

You left too early Bob! You will be dearly missed. I think I’m gonna stop here because I started tearing up again.

#BlogWaladi: Celebrating Baby Brian’s First Easter

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IMG_7216

Easter is the one of the most colorful and festive holidays and we are celebrating Brian’s first Easter this year. Even though there aren’t that many age-appropriate activities for a 9-month old baby, we made sure his first Easter is a fun and memorable one.

Dressing Him Up:
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It is very common for children to dress up for Palm Sunday and Easter. I am not aware of any dress code related to these holidays but we got Brian formal clothes for Palm Sunday and a bright spring outfit for Easter Sunday. Shopping for baby clothes is probably the only kind of shopping I actually enjoy.

Egg Coloring, Bunnies and an Easter tree
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Since it’s Brian first Easter, I tried to look this year for original egg coloring in malls, supermarkets and gift shops but I couldn’t find anything except for these same old boring coloring bags and stickers. Needless to say, it is always recommended to dye naturally your Easter eggs and there are many ways to do so but they’re time-consuming. I ended up doing Ombre Easter eggs and they turned out to be ok. I will make sure I’m better prepared next year.

eggs PS: For all the lazy dads, order an Eggbot next year to impress your children 😀

easter1 My wife also did a really nice Easter table with a colorful Easter tree in the middle

easter2 Brian’s Easter craft

Fun day out
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Since Brian didn’t start walking yet, an egg hunt was out of the question so we simply took him out to a park, got him eggs, bunnies and an Easter basket and snapped few candid shots while he was enjoying his time.

Happy Easter to all!

#BlogWaladi: Five Things I am NOT Enjoying As a Parent

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garden

After sharing the five things I am enjoying the most as a parent, here are the five things I am NOT really enjoying:

1- Bottle cleaning
bottle

Separate each part of the bottle, rinse the bottles and attachment with a special brush using a special detergent, then fill the bottle sterilizer with water after making sure it’s clean, put the bottles and attachments and turn it on. Once done, re-assemble the bottles and put them in the fridge.

I didn’t mind bottle cleaning the first couple of months but when you have to do it on a daily basis for at least 5 bottles, then you get sick of it. The worst part is that you can’t leave them like you do with the dishes as baby bottles should be cleaned immediately after use. Of course I don’t do that and clean them all at once but it’s still a pain.

PS: We use Dr.Brown bottles, which have more parts than the usual bottles but are highly recommended.

2- Car Seat:
car seat

Are the straps too loose? Is the car seat too small? What is he doing now? Is he leaning his head forward? Should we remove his jacket? Is he comfortable?

Car seats are a life-saving pain. I would never allow someone to hold the baby in the car instead of putting him in the car seat but car seats are still the most annoying thing ever. Even carrying them is a pain. During the first 2 months, we thought the car seat was too small and would stop every 15-20 minutes to make sure Brian is ok, then we installed a small mirror on the back seat but that made things even worse as you are no longer focused on the road. Right now, he’s always annoyed when we first put him in the car seat, but we can’t get the bigger one because he’s still 7 months old. The good thing about our Baby Brian is that he loves sleeping in traffic, because you can’t really do anything when you’re driving and the baby is crying.

car seat2

3- Changing Clothes & Diapers
changing

Just like bottle cleaning, changing diapers may be fun the first few times but when you need to do it 6 to 7 times a day, it gets annoying. The best part is when the baby decides to pee on you while cleaning him and you have to clean everything and then change his diaper again! Of course the older the baby gets, the more active he becomes and changing diapers or clothes becomes a whole new experience lol!

Speaking of changing clothes, you’d think it is easy to dress a baby in these tiny clothes but most of them have a zillion buttons and zippers.

4- Handling Strangers Trying to Touch Our Baby
supermarket

“OMG Your baby is so cute! Can I hold him? Can I squeeze his cheeks?”

I honestly don’t know how to handle strangers who want to touch our baby. I don’t mind it when friends do but when you are at a mall or a supermarket, I still find it hard to tell people to look but not touch. We always have wipes to clean him up after someone touches him, but I don’t like being rude to people so it’s an annoying thing to me.

I was thinking of putting a cute sign that sends out a clear message but what I’ve been doing recently is just smile, act busy and walk away and it works most of the time.

5- Watching TV
tv He likes to stay connected with Jerry

Baby Brian is not allowed yet to watch TV and it’s not that easy to stop him from doing so, especially when you spend most of your time in the living room. Moreover, even when he will be old enough to watch TV, I would probably have to put some cartoon channel or stick to football games which I enjoy. I guess it will only get better with time but until then, I’ve been waking up really early on weekends to watch movies. Last Sunday, I watched Creed at 5:30 am haha!

Despite all that, having a baby is one of life’s most rewarding experiences and I highly recommend it to everyone.

What Are We Teaching Our Kids In Lebanon?

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Vienna Metro

Last week, my wife and I managed to get out of the country and spend a few days in Europe. We wanted to recharge our batteries and get away from the daily pressures we all face in the country. The whole trip was amazing and we managed to disconnect and enjoy the beautiful cities of Budapest and Vienna during winter time. Looking back at the trip and any other trip, you realize that so many memories are forever engraved in your mind.

Ironically, the most striking image that I can never get out of my head is not that of an enchanting castle or a majestic church. It’s rather the image of a family (mom, dad and child) at the metro station in Vienna standing at the ticket booth making sure that they insert the tickets before using the metro.

So What’s the big deal? 

1- The rotating metallic barriers or blocking doors usually found at any metro station entrance in order to prevent people without tickets from entering, did not exist.

2- Security and police officers were not present at the gates in order to check the tickets and prevent people without purchased tickets from entering.

3- One can easily go in and out without a ticket. Nothing and nobody will stop them.

4- At the time, the station was somehow empty and almost nobody was around. These people were practically alone and yet they stopped in the middle of an empty hallway on a virtual border to insert their tickets before moving towards the metro area.

These two parents could have easily not stopped and kept going with their child. They could have used one of the many excuses we use everyday to justify our public wrongdoings (we’re late, we’re not the only ones, the train is here, who cares, everybody does it, etc). Instead, they are teaching their child not to steal or cheat his way through life, and are raising him to be a responsible citizen.

The question remains:

What are we teaching our kids in Lebanon? Are we able to raise them as true citizens with everything happening around us? How can we teach them to abide by the law when those in charge of enforcing it are corrupt? How can we ask them to do the right thing when you need a “wasta” for almost anything in this country?

I don’t have an answer for that but I know I will try my best to raise my kids to become good citizens and encourage them to make a difference in Lebanon and the world. Even though it’s hard in a country like ours, we all need to do an extra effort and teach our children honesty, responsibility, fairness, compassion and inspire them to make a change in their community. Raising our children to become good citizens in a failed state is difficult yet remains something we should be fully committed for their own sake and the country’s sake.