Postcards from Syria: Tonight is not a good night

The conversation I just had with Ahmed, my dear friend who is doing his best to get by in Syria.

Ahmed: Are you there?
Me: Yes. About to go out.
Ahmed: Out? Where?
Me: It’s date night. I’m going out with my husband 🙂
Ahmed: Good! I hope you have fun.
Me: How was your day?
Ahmed: Good, but the night seems bad.
Me: What’s happening? Clashes?
Ahmed: Yeah.

It’s midnight his time, 5:00 pm my time. He’s up late because he can’t sleep when the war rages just under his window.

A few weeks ago he sent sound recordings that were muffled but obvious—boom boom boom. Over and over again, for 50 seconds. Like a giant’s footsteps in the distance. Like everyone’s worst nightmare. Like death outside his door.

But in terms of his safety there’s a difference between gun shots and missiles. If there’s a gun fight he’s safe enough if he stays inside. If it’s missiles, it’s anyone’s guess. And we’ve all seen the footage of the footage of people being pulled from rubble.

So I asked my standard question when we have these after-midnight conversations:

Me: Bullets or bombs?
Ahmed: Both.
Me: Close to you?
Ahmed: Yeah.
Me: How close?
Ahmed: Maybe 100 meters.

That’s 350 feet. Too close.

Me: Are you scared?
Ahmed: No.
Me: Why not??
Ahmed: I’m accustomed.

Also, and I know this from past conversations, he has unwavering faith in God. This carries him in a way I can only imagine. In a way I hope I never have to imagine.

Me: Are the missiles coming from planes or the ground?
Ahmed: No planes because there is talk of a truce.
Me: That’s good.

… I think? I have no idea how far the missiles can fly or if the launcher is mobile and heading in his direction.

And even though he is fine, there are certainly people who are not and never will be again. As we speak.

Me: How many missiles are there?
Ahmed: I did not count them…
Me: 10? 100?
Ahmed: 100.

Sometimes I can’t wrap my brain around our friendship, and how the split screen movie of any given conversation would have absurdly different things happening in the background.

Me: Send a recording. I want to hear what it sounds like.
Ahmed: It’s interrupted now, they are taking a break.
Me: I hope it stays quiet tonight.
Ahmed: Thank you. Me too. You should go enjoy time with your husband.
Me: I’m worried about you.
Ahmed: Don’t worry, I will be fine, God willing.
Me: God willing.

Then he sends a recording of sounds overhead.

Ahmed: Now we hear voices of planes in the sky.

Me: …

There really aren’t words for my fear, or for reassuring him, or for anything at all. So I sit here for a while, rubbing my forehead. My husband comes to see if I plan to join him anytime soon.

So much for that truce.

Me: Please be safe and kiss your Auntie for me.
Ahmed: Hahaha okay I will. Thank you.
Me: I will pray for you.
Ahmed: Thank you so much.
Me: Good night.
Ahmed: Salam.

Salam, the word for health, for peace, for goodbye.

Salam, Little Brother.

Friends, please help me get him to a safe life in Canada, where private citizens can sponsor refugees. He has a home waiting for him and his family. We are raising the minimum amount required by the Canadian government to qualify for private sponsorship.

Ahmed and I could use a little hope tonight.

Donate and learn more about his family here: 


Read the ongoing blog series about my relationship with Ahmed in Postcards from Syria here:

Syrian Stamp

*Because Ahmed and family are still in Syria and could be targeted, it is not safe to use their real names or photos.

Photo by Pixabay user Skitter Photo. Stamp image by Wikimedia user Stan Shebs, Creative Commons


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