Thomas Fadoul, Reema Samaha's uncle, introduced Reema's father, Joseph, to those gathered in her memory, Saturday afternoon, outside St. Timothy Catholic Church. Said Fadoul: "He feels as though Reema speaks through him because he's absorbed her soul."
SAMAHA, of Centreville's Sully Station community, said his daughter was a bright, little girl who didn't like to be sad. "As we know, some people are dead when they're alive," he said. "But Reema is alive in death."
He said that, on April 16 at the gates of heaven, Reema was "auditioned" by St. Peter, himself. "And when he asked her, 'What are you doing here so young, so full of promise?'" said Samaha, "Reema answered, 'I want the world to dance and heaven to be my stage.'"
Then, with characteristic humor, Samaha said St. Peter agreed to let her in, provided she teach him to belly dance and God got to watch her next performance.
Samaha said his youngest daughter really was a shy girl who never gloated about her accomplishments. And her smile would "drill a hole into your heart and remain there forever."
Mona Samaha, Reema's mother, said she was their prima ballerina when she was a little girl and resembled a butterfly when she played soccer. Now, she said, Reema again is the family's butterfly, as well as "our flower picked too soon, our star to wish upon and our angel to guide us."
Addressing the crowd, Mona Samaha said Reema grew up in this community and attended its schools and churches: "In Reema, there's a piece of each one of you, and I thank you for that."
Cousin Lisa Samaha noted that Reema loved bright colors and perfume and was conceived and raised in love. "She was and always will be our precious child," said Samaha. "She is an annointed angel."
Speaking directly to Reema's parents, sister Randa and brother Omar, Lisa Samaha said: "Even though we're only beginning to feel the pain we know will come, her light will always be with you and will always shine among us."
She then wished for "Reema's dad, my cousin Joey," to regain his lightness of heart and humor that Reema loved so much and entreated Omar to remember the lessons his sister taught him. She said the "piercing pain of tragic loss" wouldn't make Randa give up on loving. And she told Reema's mother that, "Although you'll grieve forever, you'll be consoled knowing your baby girl will always be with you. And when you dance again, she will be dancing through you."
LISA SAMAHA said the way to "overcome the forces of evil" is to love more deeply, broadly and profoundly than ever before. "Everyone who died was a precious child of God — even the madman," she said. "He just never knew it. What exists is life eternal for those who choose to live in God. And one thing we know for sure is that our precious and faithful Reema's last breath on earth was her first breath in heaven."
A cousin, Jim Lynn, noted the many good times — birthdays, graduations, Christmases — the family had enjoyed together. And he read a poem, "An Unfinished Life," that he'd written for Reema's memorial.
Another relative, Tony Salamé, said his family is 4,000 years old, "intertwined with the roots of Lebanon." He then did a special reading for Reema. "It is in the heart [that] one holds on to sorrow," he said. "In [Reema's] face, we remember that in God we find the light He has provided."
"Is her scent, her touch, her heart too much to keep?" asked Salamé. "Over infinite rainbows, she showers us with her memories."
Randa Samaha said so many things will continue to remind her of her sister. "My heart was shattered by this, and it's broken in pieces right now," she said. "But I'll pick up the pieces and, when I pick up the last one, it'll be from her — because she holds that piece of my heart."
Crying, Omar remembered how his "little, baby sister, overflowing with laughter and love," couldn't pronounce her name correctly as a toddler. "Words can never do her justice," he said. "Even though she was my little sister, I looked up to her."
On Easter, he said, the bunny always hid their baskets in the main part of their house. But this year, he surprised the Samaha siblings and hid them in their rooms. Even so, Reema found hers first. Said Omar: "She was so worried about her schoolwork, like a good 4.0 student, that she checked her backpack [before coming downstairs for the usual hunt] and found her basket there."
He then read the children's book, "Angelina Ballerina," about a mouse who loved to dance, but substituted Reema's name for hers. "Her morals and standards were so high," said Omar. "In her life and death, she's touched all of us [and] accomplished her goals: To bring people together, spread love and make the world a better place for all."
NEXT CAME longtime neighbor and friend, Steve McNabb who, along with wife LuAnn, knew Reema since the day she was born. "Reema was very dear to us," he said. "The performances I remember were SamNabb productions; Reema and [our children] Caitlin, Patrick and Christopher made videos on a toy camera. Even then, Reema was a star."
And now, said McNabb, "At the time of their greatest despair, Joe and Mona showed uncommon grace telling the world about Reema, and she will go on living through [their] words." Addressing her parents, he said, "If you could be that strong, we can, too, and may our strength also comfort you."
"Mona, your little angel is still with us," continued McNabb. "But now, she's not just playing to her Sully Station neighbors and friends. The world is now her stage and she's getting rave reviews. We all applaud her, as we do you, Mona and Joe, for the supporting roles you played. The life of Reema Samaha had too short a run — but, my, what a run it was!"
Donations in her name may be made to Holy Transfiguration Church, 8501 Lewinsville Road, McLean, VA 22102 for its building fund.