By Ann Mansour
A child is a precious gift from God. As a mother you will do anything and everything for your precious children. When they are sick you try to make them feel better; when they are sad you want to make them happy; when they are in pain you want to take their pain away. You will do everything to protect your children.
On July 14, 2013 there was nothing I could do to save my two beautiful children when a horrific boating accident took their lives in just one second. At that moment my life completely turned upside down. One minute I had everything that I could’ve ever asked for, a beautiful family with three amazing and healthy children and the next minute everything was taken away from me. This was a mother’s worst nightmare come true. I then began to ask the questions: How could this happen? Why does God allow this to happen? Why didn’t God save my children? Why is life so unfair?
The truth is no one has the answers to those questions, so I learned to stop asking.
My handsome son Alexander was born on January 22, 2002, he was 11 years old when he left this world. He was a happy and healthy boy. He was very athletic and loved all kinds of sports; his favorite sport was basketball. He loved to play and watch basketball; his favorite team was the Detroit Pistons, and he wished he could one day play in the NBA. He enjoyed bike riding and playing video games with his friends. He loved the outdoors and enjoyed swimming and other water related sports. He was a very bright student. He was very mature and intelligent for his age. He was also very independent and responsible. When he was asked what he wanted to be when he grew up, he would say, “I want to be an engineer just like my grandfather”.
Alex loved cars. He knew the make and model of every car. He could not wait until he turned 16 years old so that he could get his driver’s license and his own car. This past January Alex would’ve turned 16 years old.
Alex had a wonderful caring heart, he was always willing to help others. He had a mature personality, but he was also funny and liked to make people laugh.
Alex was a picky eater; his favorite foods were: pizza, tacos, spaghetti, watermelon and chocolate ice cream. Yes, he did love his carbs but he burned them off very quickly.
He loved being around family and friends; he especially liked hanging out with his older cousins.
He loved his sisters and as their older brother he knew it was his job to protect and look after them.
He was a great brother to both his sisters and he was an amazing son. We called him the king of the house because he always wanted to be in control. He was loved by all his family and friends and he will never be forgotten.
Alex will always be remembered for his wonderful caring heart and his mature personality.
My beautiful daughter Gabrielle was born on January 26, 2007. She was only 6 years old when she left this world. She was our sunshine because she always had a big smile on her face. She brightened up every room she walked into. She was always happy and so full of life. She loved to give hugs and kisses. She was a superstar, everywhere she went she made sure to leave her mark so that no one would ever forget her. She had an unforgettable and unique personality. She was very friendly; she was not shy, and she loved talking to everyone, young or old. She had a very loving and caring heart.
Gabby loved to sing and dance. She was also very artistic and loved coloring and drawing with her sister. She enjoyed reading and writing, she always knew how to tell some good stories. She loved going to school and learning. She was a very bright student and learned quickly. When she was asked what she wanted to be when she grew up, she would say, “I want to be a teacher because I love to teach”.
Her favorite things to do when she was home was to play dress up and put on make-up. She also loved playing with her dolls. She liked having friends over for play dates. She also enjoyed riding her bike and swimming. She loved being around family and she also loved hanging out with her older cousins just like Alex. She loved her siblings and always enjoyed playing with them.
Gabby was not picky with her food like Alex. She loved all kinds of food. Her favorite foods were: Chicken, pasta, Dolma, beef Kafta, eggs, cucumbers and vanilla ice cream.
She liked helping me in the kitchen and loved baking.Gabby will always be remembered for her unique personality and most of all for being a hero by donating her organs and saving the lives of four people. Her heart still lives on!
There is nothing that symbolizes loss or grief more than a mother losing a child, let alone losing two children at the same time. The most difficult part of losing my children has been trying to live and trying to stay strong for my surviving daughter Adriana. It is so easy to just give up on life and end all the pain and suffering, but I can’t do that because I have a daughter that is still here with us and she needs me.
When Jesus gave me this heavy cross to carry, I had no choice; I couldn’t tell him that I don’t want it, or to take it back and give it to someone else, it is mine to carry for the rest of my life. Yes, it is extremely painful and some days it is so heavy it makes me fall, but I learned to get back up and continue to carry it just like Jesus had to do for us. The only way to survive in this life is to keep your faith and trust in God.
In the past 4 and a half years my children Alex and Gabby have been sending us many signs and messages that they are fine and that they are with Jesus. It has been comforting for me to know that they are in heaven, but the selfish side of me wants them to be here so I can hug and kiss them and to watch them grow.
One thing that I found to be comforting is to talk to other mothers who have also lost a child. They are the only people who can relate to me and know how it feels. This is why we have
started a support group for our Chaldean community for grieving families. It is called Grieving with Hope and Faith; we meet once a month at the Chaldean Sisters Convent in Farmington Hills. This has helped us with our faith and also in meeting other families who are suffering just like us. Another thing that has helped me get through each day is knowing that this life is only temporary and we are all visitors here on this earth. I believe that we all have a mission to accomplish before we leave and after that mission is accomplished, I will be joining my children again.
Our community has been so wonderful to me and my family. I never knew there were so many wonderful people out there in this world. People I don’t even know approach me and tell me that they just want to help and if there is anything that they can do for us. I just tell them thank you and to please pray for my family, that is the only thing that anyone can do at this point.
Having our family and friends around to be with us and to comfort us really helps, especially for my daughter Adriana, she really needs more people in her life. She has endured so much pain at such a young age. I just want her to be able to live a normal teenage life. She doesn’t
deserve any of this; she deserves to have a better life and I will do anything to make her happy.
Sometimes people don’t know what to say to me and end up saying something that I don’t really like to hear. The biggest one is when they say, “I feel your pain”. How can you possibly feel my pain? This pain is so unbearable; this pain feels like a knife stabbing me in the heart every minute of the day. My heart is shattered into a million pieces. I don’t wish this pain upon any human. This pain will never go away, there is no medication, no treatment or no surgery that can cure this pain. No one will ever know this pain unless you have lost a child. When you lose a child, your life will never be the same again.
When people ask me how are you able to live through all this? I say “God”, he has given John and I the grace to be able to live through all the pain and suffering. He walks us through every minute of every day. He has provided us with the strength that we never thought we had.
We wanted to keep the memory of our children alive so we created a foundation in their honor. We started an annual walk at the Detroit Zoo, it is called Stride for Seminarians to raise money for the education of our Chaldean seminarians attending Sacred Heart Seminary. The seminarians, priests, nuns and Bishop Francis were at our side from the early stages of our tragedy. They were all there to make sure that we never lost our faith. They have all become a part of our family and still continue to provide us support and spiritual guidance. Each one is a great example of what faith means and how to act on faith in a way to find hope and undertake
in our mission to serve God. We believe this cause is one way to secure the future of our church.
This fall on Sunday, September 23, 2018 will be our 5th annual Stride for Seminarians walk. Preregistration will open June 1st. We look forward to another beautiful event and appreciate our community’s support in this cause.