Eulogy for my Clairebear



My secret crush on this girl started when I was invited to New York for the announcement of a new film school in the Middle East, in Jordan, to create a generation of world class Arab filmmakers.  The Red Sea Institute of Cinematic Arts.  Claire Naber was the person tasked with putting this project together and she was the organizer of the event where his majesty King Abdullah would introduce the school.  I walked through the doors and saw her smile radiating like sunshine filling the entire conference room.  She welcomed me as if I’d known her my whole life.  Instantly everything in my world flipped upside down.  I knew nothing about this girl, but I wanted to be next to her for the rest of my life.  After the event, we had lunch with the group and laughed like children, then went our separate ways back to our lives.  I lived in Los Angeles, she lived in Jordan, and nothing happened.  Cut to-

Sundance Film Festival – 2008.  I see her again as we premier my first film.  I couldn’t let her go this time.  Every time I saw her, I felt this unstoppable universal force pulling me towards her.  She gave the best hugs in the world.  She was filled with life, laughter, and love.  She was the most beautiful girl on the planet, but she had no idea.  She was just Claire.  A radiant angel walking among us humans.  I had to somehow trap her into my life and steal her away, all for myself.  My angel.  Cut to–

Christmas 2008 – She said yes.  Apparently, many people had tried to capture this human angel with their attempts, but she’d always run away.  Somehow, I was lucky.  My scheme worked.  I had conned her into thinking that I’m worthy of her love.  We got married in 2009, in this church, and created memories together, laughing at the smallest things, traveling, writing, playing with our dogs, and making movies.  We worked hard to build our dream life of creativity. 

Claire and Amin Santorini

Throughout our relationship, Claire’s greatest two passions were writing and building the film school, RSICA.  She was the mother behind RSICA from day one when Samer Mouasher asked her to build a film school in Aqaba.  He was right.  She was the lady for the job.  Claire spent tireless hours, night and day, planning out the year, the brand identity of the school, finding the actual building, interviewing students, hiring faculty from USC, working with the staff putting out fires, and she never asked for recognition.  Just as she was the muse behind the scenes inspiring me with my films, she was the mother behind the scenes at RSICA.  Today, a whole generation of Arab filmmakers exist across the Middle East because of the love Claire poured into RSCIA.  

In the past week, I received hundreds of messages from people who knew Claire and were affected by her presence in their life.  She made everyone feel special, and she cared more about everyone else’s comfort and happiness than hers.  That quality and her infectious laugh made her this human angel.  I’ve been lucky to have her in my life.  

One of Claire’s favorite jokes was “You plan and plan and plan, then God laughs and says, ‘that’s nice, now let me show you how it’s going to be.’  Three and a half years, she battled, and she never lost her sense of humor.    We had soul crushing defeats every time we realized that the cancer came back, but somehow Claire managed to rise up and fight with her optimistic spirit.  She managed to find hope even when the doctors said the chances were grim.  She kept on fighting with her leadership and a sense of humor that inspired us and rallied our whole family of friends around her in the fight. And because of her incredible mother, Donna, who moved in with us in Los Angeles, and took care of her night and day.   

Life is a roller coaster filled with ups and downs.  My journey with my Claire taught me a lot in the past six years.  I’ll try to boil it down to a few gems.  So I’ll leave you with this: 

Live in the moment and laugh at the absurdity of life.
Look forward to things you love.  Do not dwell on the negative.  
If life gives you lemons, make lemonade, and drink it with your friends and the people you love.
Live to love, because without love, there is no reason to live.
Connect with the life around you.  Don’t live in isolation.
Geek out on the things you love.
There’s room in your heart for so much love.  The more you give, the more you have to give.  That was what made Claire so special.  
Last but not least, be kind.  Be kind to everyone.  The strangers you meet, the friends around you, and the family that loves you.

This video is something I made for our One Year anniversary. It gives you a glimpse of how lucky I was to have had this much love in my life.

CLaire Flowers

17 thoughts on “Eulogy for my Clairebear

  1. Dearest Amin,

    This is so beautiful, and so heartbreaking.

    I¹m sure you¹re navigating your way through thousands for messages, so please do not feel under any obligation to respond.

    I was deeply saddened by your loss, and admire your and Claire¹s strength and love. It is both strange and amazing how Facebook gives us the chance to look into each other¹s lives and find connections without being closely connected. Your loss has touched our hearts so deeply, and I truly believe that you are a hero for the way you have and continue to love Claire and give everyone the chance to grief and celebrate her life with you through your posts.

    I am and will always be proud of the way you have pursued your dream of filmmaking, and from all I see of you, I know you are on your way to great things.

    It takes an immense amount of love and courage to be where you are today. My heart goes out to you, and I hope our paths cross at some point. Until then, please accept my love and best wishes of peace and strength.

    Bon courage!

    All my love, Jumana

    From: Cello & Oboe Present Reply-To: Cello & Oboe Present Date: Tue, 16 Jun 2015 21:28:40 +0000 To: Jumana Abu-Hannoud Subject: [New post] Eulogy for my Clairebear

    amatalqa posted: ” My secret crush on this girl started when I was invited to New York for the announcement of a new film school in the Middle East, in Jordan, to create a generation of world class Arab filmmakers.  The Red Sea Institute of Cinematic Arts.  Claire N”

  2. Dearest Amin & Claire,

    I never had the chance to meet your beautiful sunshine but ever since we became friends on Facebook I’ve been a great admirer of your work and achievements and tried to promote your work with all my social media following and skills. I witnessed your time line of events from the day you got married till you had to say goodbye to your soulmate. She will live forever the muse that inspired you and Jordan’s budding film industry and I think samer Mouasher a very good friend chose well and her work will always leave a mark and be embossed since those humble beginnings. I can’t find the right words to console you, but since the day I heard the news I’ve been grumpy and heartbroken in my own way and shed tears for someone I never met. Life is unfair but I hope one day you will reunite with your lovely Claire in another lifetime. God always seems to take away the best of us. May God ease your pain and comfort you in ways nobody can comprehend. No doubt it’s painful as hell and all I can say to you I’m a solid fan of yours and will be there for you. May God bless you and Claire’s loved ones and family and may our angel rest and watch you from the heavens above. Joanna Saket

  3. With tears in my eyes and a big smile on my lips i quote:“You plan and plan and plan, then God laughs and says, ‘that’s nice, now let me show you how it’s going to be.’”.
    Have faith that God loves her and wanted her nearer to him where she can continue to shower you and so many others with blessings..
    With love,
    Suher Younis Wattad (em Nizar)

  4. Beautiful words for a beautiful soul. May our Angel Claire rest in peace. Love and blessings to her family, friends & all at this sad time. xo

  5. Thank You for sharing your beautiful wife with us, sharing your love and her light. Although I am deeply saddened by her transition she left the world in a much better place than where she found it!

  6. My heart aches for you. Sadness. Nothing one can say will ease the pain or soothe that nagging ache nor fill the void, but the fact that she will ive on in our memories makes her one of the immortals.

  7. I am heartbroken. I had some writing classes with her at UCLA, and she was a joy to work with. So sorry for your loss. I’m honored to have known her and create alongside her.

  8. Amin – I’m so sorry. I shared some of the same writing classes with her and Tom Mescall at UCLA. She was an immensely positive person and, as Tom said, a joy to work with.

  9. I do not know you Amin, nor did I know Claire. I am a friend of Matt Antonelli, and my boyfriend Jon Broxton is friends with Austin Wintory and I think has met you once or twice. I have learned of your loss through Matt and just wanted to offer my condolences. I love seeing the photos of you two and it’s impossible to make sense of why anyone is ever taken away from us so young. I myself battled Stage 3 breast cancer – diagnosed at age 35. Test results have been clear since then, but I am well aware that it could come back at anytime. The final words you ended with in your eulogy are SO important for everyone. We hear that advice often and think we will follow it, but we end up back in the “rut” of sweating the small things and forgetting to always be kind. I have found that feeling in myself fading over the past couple of years and I just wanted to let you know that your words and situation have reminded me to focus on what’s important in life and to laugh and love more often. It sounds like Claire did a lot of good for a lot of people, but I just wanted to let you know that she’s even had an impact on a perfect stranger like myself. Thank you for sharing your and Claire’s story!

  10. Amin such a beautiful eulogy, my deepest condolences to you and your family. I pray for your own strength during this time. How wonderful that so many people turned up to share in Claires memory.
    I met you once in LA where we shared a dinner together with Claire and myself way back when Claire was studying NLP. She is truly a beautiful soul, a human angel as you put it and now looking after you from afar.Thankyou for the reminder of what is important in life. I shamefully did not stay in touch enough after the NLP, although we did meet up in 2012 and she told me she had battled with cancer but had been cleared. I am so saddened for your loss and I wish for you all the courage, positivity and future happiness to come.x

  11. Dear Amin

    I don’t think we’ve met but I worked closely with Claire’s mother Donna on the SMT at the New English School. As Head of Secondary and later as Deputy Director of NES, I was aware of Claire’s extraordinary qualities as a student. She was hardworking, co-operative and highly creative. Above all else, she radiated a re-assuring sense of happiness which infected all those around her during what were difficult social, political and economic times during the early 1990’s. I was so glad to hear of the tributes paid to her by the vast number of associates, friends and relatives who were able to be present at the service and at the same time so sorry that I wasn’t there myself.

  12. here i would like to share a story that needs sharing..My name is patrick spirithealer, I am an energy healer located out of NYC..3 days ago a good friend and client called and told me she had a dream of me and her bringing back to life a dead bear..a gentle a teddy bear..she said it was so so so strange..especially since me and this friend haven’t talked in a year or so..she told me the dream has something to do with me..can I figure it out? so yesterday on june 22nd I get a phone call from friends of Claire Bear informing me of her passing , I then..figuered it out..I had the pleasure of working on this angel one time..2 years ago when she was with cancer…we had lost touch (so I thought) and she had gone on and the fighter and humble giver of love and life she was.. but recently this cancer came back…as put in her words “she knew it was time”..and now from beyond the grave this always sweet and soft and gentle soul through my friends dream (that she didn’t even know ) reached out and thanked me from beyond..leaving us all with this one message that the dream clearly indicates..and I wish to share with all..”SHE WANTS EVEYONE TO KNOW..SHE IS STILL ALIVE NOW ” Thank you Claire Bear your are an angel now..

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