BY HEGHINAR MELKOM MELKOMIAN
Just like any other day in my life during the past 25 months, on the morning of May 11, I was busy with the kids when my sister came out of her room and said, “Ahh, I’m so tired. Barely slept last night.” “Insomnia? Why didn’t you sleep?” I asked. “No,” she replied, “I read about the death of this young couple and lost sleep… Allen I think… Sose and A…” “What? Wait… What did you say? Allen?” I almost began to shout without realizing I was doing so.
My heart skipped a beat, or maybe two. I didn’t count. I immediately logged into Facebook, went to Allen’s page and, no, there was no mistake. It was him. One by one I read all of the condolence messages and after the initial shock I felt this great pain and sadness in my chest. I did not cry. I pushed this great dark cloud out of my head and went on with my daily chores.
I “met” Allen though Asbarez. At that time he was “the guy who ran the website, posted my essays online and tagged me in them on Facebook.” Once in a while I would send him a message concerning my essay and he would reply. After some time we began to chat whenever the both of us were awake and online at the same time (I from Armenia and he from America). I found out that he was a barsgahay and the nephew of a close family friend.
He began to encourage me, asked me to write on certain topics and events taking place in Armenia. He even asked me to contribute with my essays and poems to Haytoug. In September, 2010, from miles and miles away we worked on the same project in Armenia very briefly and he wrote to me “I’m actually really excited that they gave me this editing job. I’m dying to work on things like this in Armenia.”
As I write this story 11 days have passed since I heard about Allen and Sose’s death. Every time I heard their names or details of the tragedy this immense sadness took over me, but again I pushed it away, ran away from it, unable and unwilling to accept what had happened. There is only so much a human heart can handle and this news was more than I could handle.
I never met Allen and I have been regretting about it day in and day out at the back of my mind the past 11 days. I submitted my last essay to Asbarez in December, 2010, and it was around this time that I went on maternity leave. After that nothing worked out the way I thought, wanted or planned. On March 2, 2011, my life changed irreversibly – my son was born. Countless sleepless nights and the hectic day-to-day tasks of caring for a baby took their toll on me and I stopped writing. A year and a half later I gave birth to my second son and I shut the door to the outside world altogether.
The other day I went through our previous conversations and our last chat was in February 2011, when he told me, “You should start writing again!!! Your last article was simply amazing.” I don’t think that impressed me at that time, but today it struck me. For over two years I have been living in a different time and place where nothing is more important and bothersome than colic, solid food, diapers, schedules, love and cuddles, sleeplessness, and so on.
In the midst of all this a young, newlywed couple had moved to Armenia and I had only written a short welcoming message to Allen, never finding the time to meet up with them in person. From the wings, I followed their incredible journey through their stories on their personal blog howtomakeitinarmenia.com. In their own words “How to make it in Armenia is a blog about life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness in Armenia. Get the inside track on Sose & Allen’s latest adventures as they begin their new life together in the homeland. With this blog, we will show the world what it takes to not only move to Armenia, but to make it in Armenia.”
I admired their bravery; their resoluteness and patriotism awed me. More than once I wondered if I would have been able to leave my comfortable life and work in the US and repatriate to Armenia and, frankly speaking, I don’t know if I have a solid positive reply to that. They realized the dream of many Diasporans; they found the strength and courage while many still ponder; they came, when so many are leaving without looking back. They had a vision, they had a dream, they had love, passion, hope and unanswered questions for their homeland.
I never told Allen that he and his wife inspired me with their move to the homeland, with their positive yet realistic comments and stories, their determination to learn about and improve their homeland from the inside, from the very heart. I am sure I am not alone here and many looked at them with envy, for they embodied many of our wildest patriotic dreams.
He once told me that my stories inspired people, gave insights about life in Armenia and that people in the Diaspora needed similar essays written from Armenia – they had a different breath. Had he known how everything about him and his wife inspired so many people across the world… Their stories were cut short, too short. Their mission fulfilled for only three short, yet exciting months. They are no longer amongst us in person to tell about their experiences in the homeland, inspire us through their stories and tell us how they made it in Armenia, but their friends are.
I am sure that Allen and Sose were once inspired by their friends, who took the same steps and made the life-changing move. This inspiration is contagious and with a little bit of understanding, support and encouragement it will grow and spread. The stories of all these people need to be shared. Some might read them halfway, some might read and forget and others might simply pack their bags and become our new heroes – our Soses and Allens…