The below story is from Deganit Kobliner – she is a Senior Nurse at Shaare Zedek Medical Center Jerusalem and is currently serving in the IDF Field Hospital in Turkey.
“The first thing I was struck by was her laugh.
She never stopped giggling. Every now and then she would cry a little, but then she would start talking and laughing non-stop and seemingly had little regard for whether I understood anything she was saying.
But there was something very different in that laugh. It certainly wasn’t the laughter of someone who was happy with their situation. Rather it was the laugh that comes out unconsolably when you can’t think of any proper emotion to express at that particular time.
Her name is Yasmine. She’s 34 years old and is a refugee of the Syrian town of Allepo. Four years ago, she fled the war torn region with her family; a father, mother, brother, sister and some cousins.
She lived on the first story of a six-story building.
On Sunday evening, together with her family, they had celebrated a nephew’s birthday. Yasmine had been responsible for preparing her signature kubeh dish.
With her eyes dancing, she recalls the party, describing for me in Arabic the joy that came before the terror.
She recalls waking up and feeling the entire world around her shaking and the sensation as if she was plunging into a bottomless abyss.
In a moment, any lights around her went out. She described intense fear and a complete lack of understanding of what had happened.
But instinctively she decided that she would save the thing that she valued more than anything in the world and remembered taking her beloved ring and hiding it in the pocket of her sweatshirt.
Then all she could remember was the horrific sound of a crumbling structure, being surrounded by dust – and then silence.
Yasmine would lose track of time since the quake changed her life.
She remembers slipping in and out of consciousness before awaking and asking herself what day it is? Could it be Saturday already she asked me? When I answered she didn’t believe me and burst out in tears combined with that almost haunting laugh.
“Bring me a mirror” she asked. “I want to see if I’m alive.”
A friend took a picture of her with her phone so she could see herself. We helped clean her up getting as much dust and soot off of her as possible. We changed her wet clothing and wrapped her up in a warm and clean blanket.
Her brother and sister had been killed, her parents still trapped with their survival very much in doubt.
But for now, she clings to the memories. Those last memories of the birthday party and the kubeh simmering on the stove. Lying in her bed, she talks about those memories over and over.
I think to myself how lucky she is to be able to have something good to hang onto- small glimmers of hope and happiness before her world literally crumbled around her.
Because perhaps the only thing that is for certain in her life at this point is that she has no idea what the future will bring… ”