I went to a funeral today, but then the war broke out.
It was supposed to be the burial of 29 of the 41 people killed in an Israeli missile attack Monday evening in the crowded suburb of Chiyah. But just as one of the children was being lowered into the grave, two bombs came crashing down a few hundred meters away. After the first hit, young men at the funeral raised their arms and began shouting, "God is great!" Everyone backed-off when the second one hit.
More funerals, perhaps.
The day started when I opened up my copy of Beirut's English-language Daily Star newspaper this morning to see a huge, front-page image of Abbas Wehbeh. He was holding up the body of his 10-day-old niece, Waad, his face collapsed in pain.
Hours later, we sat down and talked in a cemetery not far from the apartment block that was pulverized Monday evening. As Abbas, a taxi driver who says he has never had anything to do with Hezbollah, began listing his family members who died in the strike, it seemed he would go on forever. Twelve in all, they ranged from his infant niece to a 1-year-old nephew, a 1-year-old niece, a brother, a sister-in-law, and more children.
With the summer sun beating down and sweat running down his face, Abbas poured out anger at Israel and the United States. He demanded to know if I would fight if my country were occupied. He demanded to know what his family members had done to deserve their fate. I was thankful he didn't really expect an answer, because I didn't have one.
Near the end of the interview, he shared a thought about how the present in Lebanon will affect the future in the Middle East. He told me his 7-year-old son, Mohammed, approached him last night to announce that when he grows up he's going to get a gun and go fight the Israelis. It wasn't fair, Mohammed reasoned, that he had only been playing with his cousins a day earlier and now they were gone forever.
"It's not us," Abbas offered up. "I never told him to carry a gun. Who is planting the seeds of hatred, us or them?"
The funeral that was interrupted by bombs came after this conversation. Beirut has a tendency to confound chronological order.