Early in the trip we learned that our perfussionist was going to have a birthday during our stay here in Nasiriah. Brian bonded quickly with our head security guard, a very imposing but quite jovial gentlemen named Anwar. When Anwar and some of the other staff discovered that they would be sharing Brian’s special day with him they got quite excited.
I was sitting in the common area one afternoon before work and one of the security guys started going on and on about “Brian something” (nope, still have no handle on the Arabic thing). I thought maybe he was asking when Brian would be home? “He is with the OR team all day today, will be back tonight,” I annunciated clearly…. but no, this response was meant with animated head shaking and hand waving.
Finally I made some progress: “Is he saying Brian’s Christmas?” I asked the other nurse sitting next to me. And that was indeed what he was saying…quickly I realized that he had transposed the word for “birthday” with the American holiday of Christmas, which actually, sort of makes sense.
At any rate, I still couldn’t make out what exactly he was on about other than the fact the Brian was going to have a birthday…Thursday. Which is in all fairness, very similar to Tuesday, which is the day it was at the time of this conversation.
We went to the hospital and had the terrible night I wrote about yesterday. We were all pretty raw and devastated by the time we arrived home.
When we walked into the common living area for breakfast we saw what our bodyguard had been on about: the room was decorated with brightly colored balloons and streamers, all part of the preparations for “Brian’s Christmas.”
I needed that smile so desperately in that moment.
The following night (I was back at work) they threw a proper birthday/Christmas party for Brian complete with party hats, music, dancing and a cake with sparkler candles.
I am very sorry that I missed it.