It has been an incredible 24 hours, last night I came back from the lecture having had an wonderful 'welcome back' after my surgery. I had a nice dinner and was watching TV. Seconds later everything change. I got a phone call from a good friend who knows I always attend the lectures checking I was OK. Panic in her voice as she told the story of a European women who had drowned in the Nile after attending the lecture. Seconds later ex pats from all over are calling each other checking. Nobody knows who the missing lady is. I phoned out British Consul Ehab Gaddis and he had heard nothing but promised to phone me back with info.
His news was that a lady had been found and she might be American, could I help. So next thing I know police are phoning us and turn up 12:30 am. Very apologetic but can I help, they have photos, tasteful not upsetting but I don’t recognise her. There was a wedding ring inscribed SLH KRW 8/19/66. I explain this is an American format which does not mean she is American but is a definite clue. I told them husband’s name first (how wrong was I). they left and I set about contacting people. Isabella for Italians Anjte for Germans, Karin for Dutch but the American date format bugs me. I ask on forums and someone suggest Chicago House, I am big friends with the librarian so email her. It is 1am by now and I don’t expect an answer at this time.
2:50 I get a text message. I don’t pick up on it until 3:15 am. Marie thinks it is Susan Weeks. I reply immediately OMG. Then almost immediately get a phone call from Brett at Chicago House. He is with Marie. They think it is Susan. Brett volunteers to contact Kent.
Brett phones me back, Kent had not missed Susan, they had guests that night including Marie and Brett and had gone to bed separately. Brett asks gently is Susan there, Kent replies YES. Brett asks him to check. She is not on board the dahabiyya. It is confirmation we did not need. I often get requests from families for a boat and constantly say safety standards are not the same. We do not know what happened but it would be easy to slip and fall. There is a constant flurry of phones calls trying to identify police to talk to, Brett to get to Kent. It is a nightmare
Around 5 am we are sure, it is Susan, Brett is with Kent, the rest of us are praying. The call to prayer comes out and I spend an hour to praying for her and more for the living kent, the first grand child, the Luxor community. The phone continues
At 6:30 Ibrahim phones me, then call after call shock is the main emotion. Everyone is offering support, helping, wanting to help, the phone never stops, American Warden wanting info for the Embassy, shocked residents and missions. I phone as well, Melinda Hartwig answers with her chirpy reply. I bring her down to earth, I have bad news, she is gutted, Susan is truly loved and respected in the Egyptology community and as a person.
Eventually funeral plans are discussed, HamduAllah she is going to buried in Luxor, we have to wait until the authorities release the body and then with no undertakers or chapels of rest we have to bury her immediately. Mansour Boraik and Ibrahim Soliman senior SCA members spend the entire day helping with authorities, Speaking both English and Arabic and having credibility they are invaluable. The funeral is confirmed, more phone calls ... 5pm. A service that has respect and personality and with a few hours notice. Then we go to Tiba to the foreigners cemetery, a few get lost on the way as it miles away. Flowers on the grave, we honoured her. Then back to Chicago House, to see a tiny man replace the giant Kent Weeks. He starts to remember the good times and the happy life they have together.
Then I am back home, more calls from aboard ... 24 hours of pain, wonder, shock ……………………………… but let us all celebrate Susan Weeks life and remember her words
"Every morning as we walk into the Valley towards the tomb, I count my blessings. It is a privilege to be able to work here and to share it with my husband. Every day is magic still."