The end of Rakan's war
Life asked far too much of Rakan Hassan, the Iraqi boy brought to Boston in 2005 for treatment after a mistaken shooting by American troops. The next chapter of his story is hard to write.
Hassan flashed his famous smile during a physical therapy session in Boston in November 2005. (Globe Staff Photo / Michele McDonald)
We were standing on a dusty road in Mosul, Dr. Larry Ronan and I, and he had just left us.
It was January 2006 and this boy named Rakan had driven away in an Opel sedan identical to the one he was riding in when his life changed forever a year before, and so we stood there, with this odd mix of hope and apprehension, and waved goodbye.
Rakan Hassan had been shot and paralyzed, his parents killed, when American soldiers panicked and opened fire on the family car as it sped toward them in the fading light of dusk. Ronan and other doctors and therapists in Boston had put Rakan back together, and I had watched the whole process, to write about it, and then we brought Rakan back to the war zone where he was nearly killed because that was what Rakan and his family wanted.
As we waved, and the car driven by Rakan's brother-in-law disappeared into the dust, Larry Ronan must have felt what I was feeling because he put his hand on my shoulder, looked me in the eye, and said, "Don't worry. We'll see him again."
We never did.