Last week I heard the unfortunate news of Abu Firas’ passing. He died of a heart attack in his sleep. I was saddened and  at the same time happy when I heard the news. You see Abu Firas was an amazing man who I trusted, loved and shared a lot of traffic time with. He was one of the few drivers I used constantly when in Amman. He had been integral to my social and professional lives. He was special and so even though I am sad he has left us, I am happy that he had a painless  quick and simple death. To go in your sleep is perhaps one of the best ways to go, and knowing that he worked hard for that good death is reassuring. He deserved it.

For those of you that don’t know him, Abu Firas was a man you could count on to be where you needed him, when you needed him. He was patient, driving for hours in the heat or the cold in his old beat up car and in the new one. When you needed him to wait outside for “10 minutes” he waited the half hour and the hour and never got annoyed. He was funny with his falafel, George Bush and Tony Blair, and donkey driving  jokes that many of us heard over and over again.  He was honest even when he over charged us. We knew he was over charging us and he knew it, but he also he knew when to give us a break and when we should give him a break. He was the lynchpin that connected so many of us , never forgot any of his customers, for he always asked, always, about old friends that have left and new that he just met. He was dependable and ran many errands for me and others alike picking up, dropping off and collecting all sorts of goods from all over the city. He had an amazing memory for places not just because he was a cab driver, but he cared and made it a point to know. We even had our own names for the neighborhoods and the streets because of all the errands we ran together. He was who you called in the middle of the night to pick you up even if you had no money because you could always pay him next time. His passing, to me, marks the end of an era. No longer will I be able to call him and ask for a ride when the sun is high and the traffic murderous. No longer will he wait patiently when the sky is dark and the streets empty and unwelcoming to take me safely home. No longer will he pick up my mail at the post office and bring it home to me when I visit Amman. No longer will he wave as he whizzes by me on the street and call out my name.

I got one last ride with Abu Firas and we chatted and looked after each along the way , each in our own way. I am glad I could say good bye to him, for I was at the airport, and airport farewells are somewhat more resonating than the quick thank you in the city.  Good bye dear man, you will be remembered. He was special.

Abu Firas

One Last Ride

Today I buried a bird. I have never buried anything before, let alone a living creature. The bird was carefully placed in the ground, wrapped in a white shroud. We covered him with a stone, and when the earth covered his little body, we placed more stones on his burial site. He was a loved bird, and so we chose a hill side to bury him in. When we were done my friend turned and said “he can now fly free”, no longer in his cage.

 

He meant something to her, and it was important to her that we do this properly. There was no ceremony or fuss, just dignity. His death was accidental and brutal. When we found him, he had a gash across his neck. It was obvious he had been attacked. He lay on his side, lifeless, songless. There was no dignity in his attack, but we gave gim at least that when we took him to the hill. His final resting place.

 

When I picked him up, I felt nothing. When I buried him I felt nothing. When I walked away I felt nothing. Life ebbing away, destroyed, stolen, ending, means nothing. I felt that way not because it was a bird, but because death to me means nothing. People, animals, things all come and go. Everything ends. It doesn’t scare me or sadden me. It just is. The only thing it I ask of death is for it to be dignified.

 

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