Alexandra was a bright, vivacious girl who grew up with the chaos of Lebanon as a backdrop to her brief life.
She was with her parents last fall when they joined thousands of Lebanese marching in the streets to protest government corruption.
The evening of Aug. 4, a massive explosion from tonnes of abandoned chemicals burst through Beirut. Alexandra, who was three years and six months old, was one of the youngest of at least 172 people who died in the latest calamity to hit Lebanon. She was one of two Canadians killed by the blast.
She has become the face of the tragedy and united Lebanese society in grief.
Alexandra was the only child of Paul Naggear and Tracy Awad Naggear, the only grandchild of Michel Awad.
She had Canadian citizenship. Her mother and her maternal grandfather, Mr. Awad, once lived in Quebec but had returned to their country of origin.
Her grieving family members are now considering moving back to Canada, Mr. Awad said, Alexandra’s death marking the end of her family’s future in Lebanon.
“For the sake of my daughter, my daughter will never have another child in this country,” Mr. Awad said in a telephone interview.
Mr. Awad had hoped to live in a conflict-free Lebanon. “It turned out to be a deadly trap,” he said.
He added that five or six of his neighbours, who also had Canadian nationality, were leaving, a pattern among members of the diaspora who had tried to renew their ties with their ancestral land.
He and his family fled Lebanon in 1989, during one of the final chapters of the country’s long civil war. Several missiles had directly struck their building. They left for Cyprus, then settled in Quebec, where they became Canadian citizens.
Although he loved living in Montreal, Mr. Awad said they moved back to Lebanon after a few years. They wanted to be closer to their relatives and his wife, Vicky, wanted a break from the Canadian winter.
For a while, the situation in Lebanon was more peaceful, until things unravelled again after the 2005 assassination of Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, Mr. Awad said.
After Alexandra’s birth, Mr. Awad spent much time with her, to help his daughter and her husband start their digital marketing consultancy.
“She was a fabulous child,” he said of his granddaughter. “She was very smart. She was full of life.”
In recent months, Lebanon fell in a worsening spiral of problems, with the arrival of refugees from Syria’s civil war, an economic crisis and the COVID-19 pandemic.
Then came the explosion. It was so powerful that Mr. Awad, living in Broummana, a hillside town 20 kilometres east of the Lebanese capital, saw cedar trees bend under the shock wave.
His daughter lived on the sixth floor of a building overlooking the port, where the chemicals had been warehoused. She grabbed her daughter and tried to move away from a window but the blast threw them in the air and knocked her unconscious.
Alexandra died in hospital the next day.
Ms. Awad-Naggear suffered broken ribs, broken fingers and injuries to her legs.
In 2014, just at the time their daughter was getting married, Mr. Awad’s wife, Vicky, died of heart problems. “Twice in six years. It’s too much for humans.”
He and his daughter want a new start in Canada. His son-in-law does not have Canadian citizenship and they hope they can sort out the paperwork for him.
But even as Mr. Awad looks forward to a new life, he remains haunted by the impact of the explosion. He recalls visiting his daughter in hospital and seeing victims who had lost limbs or eyes.
He appealed to foreign powers to help with the relief effort, and to deliver the population from its political leaders. “They cannot leave us at the mercy of these war criminals ... we cannot survive like this.”
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