Dear Najla,  

Your husband hasn’t stopped searching since ISIS took you nearly three years ago. After all this time—you are still his world.

Your parents believe that ISIS killed you long ago, when you were discovered traveling back from a visit with them in Baghdad. They told your husband, Khaz’al, to stop looking—to take care of himself. But he never gave up his search. If you are alive, as he hopes, he wants to bring you home. If you are dead, as your family and friends fear, he wants to make sure that you are buried properly.

After twenty years of marriage, it is the least he can do for you.

With tears streaming down his face, he told us what a good woman you are. It never mattered to him that you are Shia while he is Sunni. He told us it didn’t use to matter in Mosul, that everyone lived together as neighbors. Everyone got along.

He’s sorry you were never able to have children together, but you were enough for him. You were always enough.

Since that horrible June day when you disappeared, Khaz’al pounded on the door of every ISIS office he could find, demanding they tell him where you are. Over and over he returned, no matter how many times they jailed him, no matter how many times they tortured him and demanded that he explain being married to a Shia woman—a crime worthy of death in their eyes.

The liberation of the east side of Mosul is bittersweet for your husband. He is grateful for freedom, of course. Grateful to be out from under ISIS rule. But he has lost his last link to you, Najla—there is no one left to ask where you are.

We hope you knew how much your husband adores you. There is no doubt you were an amazing woman and wife. After Khaz’al told us your story, we asked if there was anything we could do for him. Even though he has nothing now, the only thing he asked us for is prayer.

How could we not honor his request?

Dearest Najla, you are not forgotten. You are loved. You are cherished. Still.

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