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Nathalie Atalla

August 21st of 2011 was the 40 day memorial service for my sweet departed friend. In this part of the world, 40 days after a person has departed there is a memorial service held in their honor. I hopped on a train and headed down to Cairo especially to attend the service.
Fabienne, Nathalie Atalla’s sister had asked me to read the Irish bereavement poem that I had used at the end of my written tribute to her.  No matter how many times I read those few sentences allowed or to myself, I couldn’t help but feel as though that I was choking on held back tears and my lip would disobey direct orders from my brain not to quiver.
When I reached Cairo I busied myself trying to put my closed apartment in order, while thinking about the upcoming service. The reason the service weighed so heavily on my mind was because, when I heard of Nathalie’s untimely departure I had just arrived in London. As much as I wanted to get back on a plane and turn around and go back to Cairo, I couldn’t. So, although I understood that Nathalie would no longer be walking among us in the flesh, my mind hadn’t fully come to terms with it.
As I sat in the church and was a few pews from the alter, where a beautiful picture of her smiling back at all of those who were in attendance, the reality of it all came crashing down. My eyes burned with restrained tears as did my throat, but I knew that she wouldn’t want more tears to be shed and especially not on her birthday. Yes, her memorial service coincided with her 32nd Birthday. A day where we would have all come together to rejoice and having a gay o’l time, but instead we were remembering her life and how she touched each and every one of us.
At the service I saw her two brave adorable girls, standing at the front of the church with their aunt and grandparents, behaving beautifully and comforting their grandmother in the midst of the service. Once the service was over, the two girls greeted the attendees at the entrance of the church with angelic smiles on their face, warm hugs and handed every single person a brioche (it’s like a hot cross bun). As I watched them, I couldn’t help but admire their innocence and how they have bounced back from having their mother tragically taken away from them at such a young age. I could see many of Nato’s qualities and she would have been very proud of them.
In the reception hall on the grounds of the church, friends and family went to pay their respects. A group of friends sat in the hall and sang ballads, two other close friends of Nathalie’s stood up and said a few words about her. Fabienne, gave a very moving speech that brought us all to tears and moved us deeply. I agree with Fabienne, Nathalie wouldn’t want us to continue to cry and be sad, she would want us to celebrate her life, remember her and smile and apply the lessons she taught us to our daily lives.

With the over flow of emotion, my little speech was over looked, but that is fine, what really mattered, was that we were there for her sister, her daughters, her parents and that we were remembering her and what she meant to us.
I finally had closure and came to terms with her passing, but although she in no longer with us in body, Nathalie is still here with us in spirit and she continues to inspire us every day!
Nathalie, you have inspired me to love myself and to take care of my health. I have returned to my favorite sport, swimming. I could barely finish two laps without gasping for air, when I started at the beginning of July but with daily practice and persistence, plus  having your voice encouraging and cheering me on, as you have for the past few months. I have now made it to 110 laps. I look better, feel better about myself and I’m beginning to feel more like my old self. Nathalie, thank you for motivating and inspiring me!

As the famous song goes; every breath I take, every move I make, every single day, every time I pray, I’ll be missing you…

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Nathalie Atalla

Remembering

                      ‘Death is always more difficult for the living’- unknown

I have been mulling over wether or not I should write this and if I was able to bring myself to write about Nathalie, would I be able to do her justice? I decided to write it as a means to come to terms with her tragic passing.

Around this time in Alexandria, Agami  14-15 years ago, during one of the Paradise beach summer festivals, was when I first saw Nathalie. She and another dear friend of mine were contestants in the Miss Dove/Bianki competition. I remember that day clearly and I remember cheering both on to the finals. As I watched Nathalie on stage, I can recall thinking what a good-looking girl she was. Her eyes in particular caught my attention, their colour much like her personality were unique and they seemed to twinkle every time she laughed or smiled.

It wasn’t until about 6 years ago I was introduced to her sister by my close-knit group of friends when I moved to Cairo. I became quite familiar with her charming sister Fabienne and would often chat and joke with her all the while not knowing that she was Nato’s sister or the cousin of people I knew in Alexandria. A couple of years ago a mutual friend of ours organized a camping trip to Wadi Hitan in the desert. A small group of us packed our bags and made our way to the pickup point where we were to wait for our desert guides. When Nathalie emerged from the car, I immediately recognized her from that day in Agami all those years ago.

The 24 hours spent together along with her two young daughters, sister and mutual friends camping out in the desert and hiking a trail looking at fossilized whale skeletons will forever be imprinted in my memory, The nervous fits of giggles when the 4X4 broke down at the start of the trip and the laughter  around the camp fire as we tried to BBQ wieners and not being able to help but be somewhat disgusted at how they reminded us of a certain part of the human anatomy impaled on a wooden skewer , The impromptu sing along with Nadine and Nicole to the Mama Mia sound track all the way to and from our destination. In those hours I couldn’t help but be drawn to her like a fire fly to lamp light. During our short trip I came to learn what a strong and positive woman Nathalie was. You couldn’t help but notice how she made being a single mom and having a full-time job look manageable. She was also very humble, caring, kind, generous and a genuine person. As well as passionate about life, being a good mother and her job. (The list of her positive qualities is endless)

From that time onwards we were always in touch, via text messages, our groups e-mail thread, what’sapp and twitter. We saw each other frequently at birthdays,  get togethers, outings, spontaneous meet ups and weddings.

I along with a great many others, are still trying to come to terms with her tragic death and how she was taken away from us too soon in a car accident on the 9th July 2011. I can’t believe that I won’t see her daily contributions to our groups email thread and she’ll no longer scold the boys for their crude comments or be the one trying to encourage and help find a location for our weekly Tuesday get togethers. I won’t have her reply to my tweets or chat with her on whatsapp where she would scold me for sending her rude jokes and then laugh about how funny it was, she’d also leave me with inspiring words to help motivate me and boost my self-confidence, give me sound advice when it came to matters of the heart, encourage and support me with my mission to get back in to shape, All that aside, I will mostly miss seeing her with her daughters and sister at gathering and outings, Greeting me with her warm smile and hug and face me and say, ‘How are you? I’ve missed you’ and genuinely mean it. I will miss early morning Friday calls to see if I’m awake and interested in grabbing breakfast at TBS. I now wish I had been able to go to more outings that you attended and had more breakfasts with you.

Nathalie has left a big void in many people’s lives and in our group. We all looked up to her and held her in the highest regard. She was a remarkable, loveable, charismatic, intelligent and an inspiring individual. I think she was our equivalent to Princess Diana. She was feminine, beautiful inside and out. She would turn heads where ever she went.

My eyes well up with tears at the thought of the devastating blow this has been to your parents, daughters, sister and other family members. We, your friends are only feeling a fraction of their pain and loss. My prayers and heart goes out to them and I hope that in time the pain subsides and it becomes easier for them to cope.

A little over a week has passed since you departed from this Earth and our lives, the messages on your facebook wall are still being posted as well as memoriams posted to blogs in your memory. You have touched so many people with your spirit and I hope that a part of you will continue to live on in each and every one of us. I can only speak for myself but I’m sure there are others who will try to do the same. I will try to live by your example and embrace every day and opportunity as they come; I will try to be more positive about situations and life, believe in myself and strive towards my goals to achieve excellence, be more courageous, try new things and to love unconditionally.

Dear God, Thank you, for introducing me to her and letting our paths cross. I am grateful for the time we had together. Please look after her and take care of her family and loved ones, they need you now more than ever.

On a final note and in true Irish form, I raise a glass in your honor and I toast your life and your family; Nato this one is for you;

In Memory of Nathalie Atalla

God saw you injured and a cure was not to be. So, He put His arms around you and whispered “come to me.” With tearful eyes we watched you, and saw you pass away. Although we loved you dearly, we could not make you stay. A golden heart stopped beating, hardworking hands at rest. God broke our hearts to prove to us, He only takes the best.

Rest in Peace Nathalie… I will remember you.

living and loving life

http://www.nathalieatalla.com/

 

below are other blog posts in memory of Nathalie;

http://www.beco-g.com/blog/?p=253

http://gwtoday.gwu.edu/people/inmemoriamnathalieatalla