Via Basel: My 60th Birthday Letter From Chris

Scott Kahn

On February 10th 2006 Chris penned a letter to me on the occasion of my 60th birthday, four days later (on Valentine’s Day). Because of its length (6 pages) and depth, after briefly perusing it I set it aside in a drawer next to my bed to read it at my leisure later on. It was a busy time in my life then, and it sat there in a large brown envelope covered by other personal items for all these years. After he passed away in July 2010, I read every single one of his writings online and offline including his diaries and memoirs (70 notebooks) from the time he was nine years old. It was painful but necessary for me to understand my son and process my grief. In fact, there was a draft of the letter in these diaries that was posted on EIL under Escape Into Chris, Entry 17 on April 22, 2011. Slowly, however, like all memories it faded into a forgotten chamber in my mind.

A few weeks ago as I was cleaning up stuff in my bedroom I came across the large brown envelope labeled “Dad” in Chris’s distinctive handwriting, containing a birthday card and the 6-page letter dated 2-10-06. It felt as if I was reading it for the first time. Or maybe it just made more sense and carried more weight lingering there for 13 years. Of course the writing was the same but I had evolved to appreciate the many gifts it had to offer. Not only was the prose elegant and the handwriting beautiful, but it revealed a maturity and wisdom beyond a young 27-year-old man. His accurate description of me and our relationship with all its peaks and valleys was insightful and authentic.

As usual periodically Chris continues to send me gifts from the beyond so please allow me to share with you a few sections of it. Here are the first and last paragraphs in his own handwriting. His last word words were prophetic, sadly prophetic.

Chris then goes through these different stages in our relationship and moves on to the essence of how he sees me…


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, hiking, enjoying nature, meditation, and spending time with his large Iraqi family, and now, retired, he will have more time for that. And for the next adventure.

Escape-Into-Chris, Entry 17, draft of full letter

Escape-Into-Chris, Father’s Day Special

Escape-Into-Chris, Reading to My Father

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