How the Not Knowing is the Hardest Part

FILE - In this Wednesday, March 23, 2011 file photo, anti-Syrian government protesters flash Victory signs as they protest in the southern city of Daraa, Syria. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla, File)

At the Washington Post, Louisa Loveluck and Suzan Haidamous report on how a bid for freedom from government oppression in Syria ended in torture — physical torture, and for one young mother, the anguish of not knowing whether her husband is dead or alive.

She remembers only flashes. Omar screaming as they beat his head and stomach with an iron bar. Blood everywhere, but Omar telling them nothing. Her mouth so dry she could barely swallow. Then an officer stepped forward and placed a small, cold knife to her pregnant belly. Omar’s swollen face froze.

“He told them everything. He gave up his friends’ names,” Marwa said. “Then they pulled him from the room and asked me to leave.” The interrogation was over.

Marwa gave birth to her second son, Youssef, in Lebanon. She had refused to leave the house when the first contractions began, inconsolable at the thought of giving birth without Omar. But time dulled her fear, and as the curly-haired newborn grew, she learned day by day what it meant to live as a refugee and a single parent, one of hundreds of thousands scattered by the conflict, not knowing whether jailed loved ones had survived.

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