Via Basel: At a Loss

Ramzi N, May 2023, Chicago

To be honest, I’m at a loss. Not of words and sentences only, but also, emotionally, the result of a quick sequence of events and remembrances in the last few weeks. From a minor sadness of my daughter Mandy’s move to the suburbs after being in close proximity in the city necessitating a bit more energy from this old body to be with my two little ones, my granddaughters, to a major loss of a cousin, friend, and soulmate, Ramzi N., after a long struggle with cancer. Having just participated in a memorial service and celebration of his life on Monday, July 24, I find it continues to weigh heavily on me. And of course the thirteenth-year anniversary of my son Chris’s escape provides the background. 

Basel & Ramzi N, December 2021, Washington, D.C.

The contrast and similarities of the two major losses, Ramzi N. and Chris, has been a subject of my reflection. Thirteen years apart from completely different causes, one sudden and accidental (Chris), the other more prolonged related to an aggressive tumor (Ramzi) are certainly distinguishing factors. Yet both men exhibited uncommon courage and tenacity as they struggled with their diseases, addiction and cancer. Highly educated and extremely well read, they both possessed the power of words, spoken for Ramzi and written for Chris. And of course their relative youth, 54 and 31 years respectively, makes their loss all the more tragic. 

Family youth with both Chris and Ramzi N, March, 2009

Upon my return, I sit sipping my afternoon tea, a daily ritual, processing my recent grieving superimposed on my remembrance of Chris’s loss years ago, attempting to bring it all together. I am alone, quiet and reflective, and by that I don’t mean thinking, analyzing, or judging: just a gentle clearing of the mind, an allowing of whatever comes up to rise organically and manifest. As far as lessons learned, no sharing here as these are both specific and personal, but I can declare there is no timeline to be followed or method to adhere to. Each of us has to quiet down, dig deep, and reflect on our own interpretation of loss. The best way to honor our loved ones is to use these lessons to change our ways towards kindness, compassion, and helping in reducing suffering for others and the whole world.


Basel Al-Aswad, father of EIL founder Christopher Al-Aswad, is a yogi trapped in an Orthopedic Surgeon’s body. His loves in life include reading, writing, hiking, enjoying nature, meditation, and spending time with his large Iraqi family; now, semi-retired, he is exploring new avenues in medicine, education, public speaking, teaching, and social engagement.

Via Basel: Essays & Anniversaries

Via Basel: My Son, My Voice

Via Basel: Uncle Ramzi, a Tribute


The Service for Ramzi N at YouTube

3 responses to “Via Basel: At a Loss”

  1. Sue O'Connell says:

    I have been in a reflective place as well, trying to process the recent and not so recent losses. Much love to you on this day and this week xoxo

  2. Mich Fisher says:

    Always thinking of you

  3. Jamil A. Kirdar says:

    My sincere condolences on your most recent of an esteemed cousin and confidant. Of course, it is quite normal that at such a time, your grief for your beloved Chris, that is ALWAYS there, gets re-ignited, with reflections and unending thoughts of ‘what ifs…’. As someone who has known you since we were both in the 2nd grade together with six other classmates, I respectfully mourn your losses and share your grief. Over the decades, you have pursued your own blazing paths, professionally and personally in achieving your aspirations. May you celebrate those on an ALMOST DAILY BASIS. No matter what the circumstances were, they remain there to keep re-igniting your spirit and vision. Such recollections and dreams are the ultimate paths to one’s thoughts’ immortality. With blessings and love, Jamil

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