On Saturday we attended the wedding of my cousin Kirralee (“Lil”) held on the beach at Noosa on the Sunshine Coast. The weather was perfect for an outdoor wedding and it was a great opportunity to catch up with my parents and brother, some of my uncles and aunts and my New Zealand-based cousins. I like to think of myself as a fairly practical person but I like the big rituals; they generally emphasise the very best in human nature.
Unfortunately towards the end of the reception I received one of those phone calls that everyone dreads–news that my father-in-law Youssef Matta had suffered a heart attack and with no warning and no reprieve was taken from us. Telling my wife that she had lost her beloved father was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do.
Now we’re making the long journey with heavy hearts from Brisbane to Beirut for the funeral.
In the twenty plus years I knew him my initial feelings of intimidation became love, and for my wife, to whom family is everything, he was a central figure in her life. Fortunately we had the opportunity to spend a week with him in Beirut in October last year and my wife visited him again in January.
As sad as I feel, the hardest part of this is knowing how deeply my darling wife Marie feels the loss and being able to do nothing to ease her suffering apart from simply being there. We have a difficult process to go through in the next few days with the funeral and associated Middle Eastern mourning rituals. Then, as they say, life goes on. But when you lose a loved one it will never be quite the same.