The Methboub family, which the Monitor has followed for a decade, has reasons for hope after dark days during which a son was wrongly imprisoned and a daughter's marriage collapsed.
Scott Peterson/TCSM/Getty Images
They don't need to turn on the TV or walk down the rickety narrow staircase of their modest Baghdad apartment to learn the news: Car bombs have been exploding in this family's district of Baghdad again, their percussions felt everywhere.
Yet behind their apartment's battered metal door – its paint worn off, and peppered with screw holes from cheap latches and locks that have failed – the family of widow Karima Selman Methboub has reasons to celebrate.
Through nearly eight years of American occupation, insurgency, civil war, and, before that, Saddam Hussein's oppressive rule, all eight children have survived.
Dramas have at times been acute, of course, as the Monitor has recorded since it first met the Methboubs in late 2002. Among them are a son who was wrongly imprisoned and tortured for 2-1/2 years and a daughter whose marriage ended in abuse and divorce.
"Every day I thank God to be released from all these problems," says Mrs. Methboub, the devout Shiite matriarch who has shepherded her family since her husband died in a 1990s car accident.
Like so many Iraqis, Methboub has done so with grace, laughter, and a steadfast determination not to let the chaos outside get the better of her struggling family.
So today there are many reasons to hope, from promising educations for three daughters to decent jobs for her sons.
That renewal may best be symbolized by the room they repainted and prepared for oldest son Mohamed and his bride-to-be, who were wed on March 22.
It is a sanctuary with a carved wooden bedroom set – made in China – with matching chests of drawers, a tall wardrobe, and an expansive mirror.
Methboub, who is now sharing her bedroom with three daughters to make room for the new couple, shows it off proudly.