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Posts Tagged ‘“Comme d’habitude”

Dalal Farah Baird, She did it Her Way

Posted on February 6, 2013 by Noor Harb,
Dalal Farah Baird, born in Damascus and raised in Zahleh (Wadi El Arayesh), is the mother of two daughters, and she has suffered the loss of her youngest one, Nadia.  Dalal has however chosen to turn her suffering into creativity and her loss into action.
Her first art exhibition at the Artwork Shop in Hamra, Beirut was titled “Cell-Abration” in memory of Nadia.

Dalal Farah Baird, She did it Her Way“I can remember you and only that you’re gone Or I can cherish your memory and let it live on”

“I chose not to sit in the corner and feel sorry for myself, but to go on doing what she wanted me to do; I chose to celebrate Nadia’s life instead of mourn her loss”.

Despite the challenges that she faced in life, Dalal was able to wear different hats and adapt quickly to all situations no matter their color.  Upon the start of the civil war in Lebanon, Dalal moved with The Ford Foundation to Aleppo, Syria where the organization started operating from.

It was tough times being away from her sick mother and at times not able to communicate with her family in Zahleh to find out whether they were still alive.

Life went on for Dalal the chameleon “I married an English man and lived in Beirut for a while until it was no longer safe as they were kidnapping westerners at that time. I got pregnant with Amanda so we moved to London, lived there for a while and then relocated to Istanbul, Turkey where we lived for 2 years.  The decision then came to migrate to Australia were we lived in different cities (Perth, Brisbane, South Coast and Sydney)”.

Dalal got pregnant for the second time, conceived another beautiful daughter, Nadia whom she named after her mother.

“Things did not work out with my husband and we divorced.  I raised the two girls on my own. This was quite challenging since you have to deal with both cultures: Lebanese and Australian.  I was raised on values which were considered uptight or “uncool” by my kids who adopted the western way of life”.

Being a parent, let alone a single parent did not change the nature of Dalal. She remained a chameleon changing and re-inventing herself.

She gave her girls unconditional love and while allowing them some freedom, she always emphasized that she trusted them.  Instead of turning off an unhealthy Television show the girls were watching, she would sit and watch it with them so she knows what ideas were being planted in their heads and so that she knows how to channel these ideas.

Dalal was a loving mother, and a smart father, who raised her daughters to be independent and encouraged them to explore what life has to offer.

As Dalal became stronger, life became tougher.

Dalal had to accept a job offer in Papua New Guinea and had to leave her teenage daughters alone: “I left the girls on their own.  It wasn’t easy although they were responsible girls. I used to ring my daughters every night, and visit them every 3 months.

That tortured me but I had no option. Years later I had to apologize to them because they had it tough.”

Dalal was prepared for life at a very young age, and was fully aware of the unlucky events that present themselves for every human being. She thought she was fully immune to all of life’s hardships and that her belief system will help her overcome life’s challenges; nothing however could prepare a mother for the loss of her child.

Nadia was a bright student and very much loved by both students and teachers.  She was 23 years old studying media and journalism in England, and she was due to receive the Ernest Petrie scholarship the day after she passed away.

She suffered from epilepsy but ironically her death was caused by suffocation as a result of a seizure. “Her time was up”.

I heard this in movie Nadia and it made me think of you. A shooting star is wonderful.  When it shoots across the sky it lights the whole world up and the other stars just stop and stare.

Shooting stars are only here for a brief moment but those that get to see one never forget and their spirit is forever touched.” Wrote Anna-Belen Fernandez

Dalal had to camouflage into yet another color, a color that has no light, a color that everyone fears, the color BLACK.

Here is why the story of Dalal is a story everyone can learn from and get inspired by.   Dalal was devastated at her daughter’s death but she couldn’t allow herself to mourn and be paralyzed.  She chose instead to celebrate Nadia’s life.

The eulogy was turned into a celebration were Dalal focused on how lucky she was having Nadia for 23 years, and how lucky she was being her mother for 23 years.

That same year, Dalal went with her eldest daughter Amanda to Barcelona (as it was previously planned to visit Nadia while she was there as an exchange student).  “We decided to go ahead with our plans as if she was still alive. I still sign the cards with the three names Dalal, Amanda and Nadia.”

There Dalal visited Picasso and Dali’s museums. She came back inspired, picked up the brush and started painting again. Dalal called her paintings “The Rainy Nights”.

“I had stopped painting after my divorce, but Nadia always encouraged me to try again, so I picked up the brush and I painted after her death.”

Dalal took the path less traveled, which made her an artist whose art belongs to everyone, and the philosophy behind it to the only ones who reveal it.   Her first art exhibition at the Artwork Shop in Hamra, Beirut was titled “Cell-Abration” in memory of Nadia.

“I could’ve focused on what happened to me and it would have made me miserable but I am grateful to have Amanda whose strong character has inspired me and helped me carry on.   I decided instead to monitor my thoughts and choose the positive ones.

It is easier said than done and it takes guts to unlearn old habits that no longer serve us and to make room for learning new things, but it works.

Our cells receive orders from our thoughts and react accordingly. Why make our life miserable and have health problems when we can control all of that?”

Looks like there’s more to this chameleon than just changing colors; for somewhere in the heart of black a rainbow bloomed with all its brightest shades. Through her art troubles melted like lemon drops and Dalal bloomed like Cherry blossoms in an everlasting spring.

Noor Harb

Note: The melody of Frank Sinatra “I did it my way” was borrowed from the french song “Comme d’habitude” by Claude Francois

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