How I Almost Never Existed


This year marks the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, when 1.5 million Armenians were systematically killed.

Although other members of my family were killed, my great-great-grandmother and her children survived, and without their survival – a few drops escaping from the ocean of 1.5 million dead souls – I would have never existed. This is one of the many stories of their resilience:

In the Armenian wilderness, my 25-year-old great-great-grandmother holds her two-year-old little girl in her arms. Three other children cling to her, terrified.

Once a wealthy aristocrat, she is now desolate. Her home has been ransacked and husband slaughtered — she is forging a path for her four children against all hope.

That absence of hope materializes as a Turkish soldier storms on horseback behind her and snatches her daughter out of her arms, a scene straight out of an Armenian mother’s worst nightmare.

Falling to her knees, my great-great-grandmother cries out, begging God to save her little girl, fearing the Turk’s intent to kill. Prayers pour out of her like rain. Her little girl—my great-grandmother—cries with the same terror.

The soldier becomes a pinprick on the horizon. All hope is lost. In the careless flick of a trigger, I cease to exist and my family disappears with me. Everything I know vanishes like an elaborate illusion. 

But God works a miracle.

The pinprick grows larger and larger until the soldier returns. Irritated by the crying toddler, he releases my great-grandmother and rides away. My surroundings sharpen back into focus. 

I’m alive. 

The women who came before me were resilient; they were survivors. When they were spared, it ensured that I could write this 100 years later. That is not something I can easily dismiss. I cannot carry on with the mundane without understanding that I wouldn’t have the ability to experience it without the survival of that frightened yet determined 25-year-old mother and her children.

I don’t take my existence for granted. I am so thankful for the chance to live – to live fully, vibrantly, and without reservations.

I am not the product of random occurrences, and I refuse to be told that I am. I am part of something vastly greater than myself. God spared both my Armenian ancestors and me for a reason. And in that I find comfort.