Life, Death, and Love Beyond Measure

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My father-in-law, Mekki Laouini, died last Monday (January 10, 2022) — exactly 18 months after the death of my mother. When we’ve been fiercely loved by our parents, neither age nor illness prepares us for their death. We’re just never ready. Our parents guide us, shape us, teach us, and pour themselves into us like no one else.

Mekki became baba (father) to me almost immediately after my husband (Monta) and I married in 2012. In fact, he made it a point to share that I was now his binti (daughter) and that nothing could change that. His words, spoken through Monta’s translation, meant everything to me. I can still remember his smiling face, and I could see the love and generosity in his eyes and feel the warmth of his heart with every word. Since he died, again and again, I’ve seen his smiling face, and with his hand on his heart, I’ve heard his voice saying, “Aichk, binti.” (Thank you, my daughter.) I miss him.

A devoted husband, a proud and loving father and grandfather, a faithful friend, and a dedicated teacher, Mekki lived a life of faith and love, frugality and generosity, strength and resilience, and a whole lot of soccer. He reminded us to turn off lights when not in use, to turn off the water when lathering up or brushing teeth, to add more blankets rather than turning up the heat, to eat the food provided, and to never, ever throw away bread. Bread is life, and if it’s not eaten by humans it should be given to animals. He taught us to welcome friends and neighbors with a radical hospitality — providing for them, even if it meant less (or nothing) for you. True to form, while in the hospital last week, Mekki called Monta to come quickly, because his roommate was being discharged and didn’t have money for transportation home.

Mekki was loved by many, as evidenced by the hundreds of people who have come to pay their respects over the last few days. As heartbroken as we are, we’re grateful to be here in Tunisia for this time, and we know his love and legacy continue to live in each of us. Alhamdulilah (thanks be to God) for everything.

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