Hathim Kheiry was a good son. Every month he would send his parents in Khartoum, Sudan, a chunk of the money he earned from his two jobs, money he knew his family depended on.
He was a good worker. Eighteen-hour days delivering parts for an auto franchise and pizzas for a Georgetown Pizza Hut were no problem. This was America. Here, with work, comes success.
Last Thursday, he was supposed to take an Ethiopian Air flight home for his first visit in three years. But that meant he'd miss work Friday. So he switched to a weekend booking: EgyptAir Flight 990.
Yesterday, in the Spartan two-story brick duplex Kheiry, 23, shared with his uncle, Abdul, aunt, Salew, and their six children in Silver Spring, his uncle, a cabdriver, stood in his traditional ankle-length white Sudanese tunic and wept for his lost nephew.
He was a good man, a joy to have around, his uncle said: "He was a lot of help to me. This was his house."
Though his family had known he was on the doomed flight, aboard which 217 people perished Sunday when it crashed off the coast of Massachusetts, his name and that of others on the flight are just now being made public.
Three Maryland couples also died in the crash: Arthur and Marie Simermeyer, of Randallstown, near Baltimore; John and Joanne Schelpert, of Chestertown, in Kent County; and Donald and Jeanne Heck, formerly of Silver Spring, now also of Chestertown.
A fourth couple, Gerald and Carlyn Welsh, of Clarksville in Howard County, were listed as passengers, but no one from their family could be reached, and their fate was not known for sure late yesterday.
Four Egyptian exchange students who were on their way home after two weeks at Baltimore's Laurence Dunbar Senior High School also perished.
Yesterday, as rain poured down on Navahoe Drive in Silver Spring's New Hampshire Estates, the street outside the Kheiry home filled with the taxis of cabbies paying their respects, while inside the conversation was quiet with grief.
Hathim, a U.S. citizen, was born in Washington, where his father ran a limousine business in the 1970s, said his cousin Hisham Abdelgadir, 27, with whom Hathim had for a time lived in Prince George's County.
But his family had returned to Sudan years ago, and Hathim and Hisham had grown up there together.
In 1993, Hisham came to Washington to attend the University of the District of Columbia. He prospered, became the manager of a Pizza Hut on Wisconsin Avenue in Georgetown, and on a visit home three years ago, he urged his younger cousin to come, too. "There's a lot of opportunity there," Hisham said. "Come on."
So Hathim did. He moved in with his cousin in Hyattsville and went to work. He got a job making deliveries for the auto franchise, then added another, part-time job delivering pizzas for his cousin's Pizza Hut.
"We were together all the time," Hisham said, as he stood in the living room of his uncle's home yesterday.
"We worked together," he said. "I'm the manager at the Pizza Hut. We lived together. We were always together. Everything. He called me from the New York airport [Saturday night], to say the plane was delayed."
"Everybody liked him," Hisham said. "He was great. Very hard-working person. He worked night and day, just to make his living. He worked 18-hour days and weekends." He loved soccer, but worked too hard to follow it.
He planned to go home and visit after one year. But one year became two, and two grew into three. Lately, though, he had become homesick, and this year he was determined to go. It would have been a grand return.
Instead, his uncle Abdul got a call about 3 a.m. Sunday from Hathim's brother, Mohammed, who also lives in the Washington suburbs. The plane had crashed, and the beloved nephew, son and brother would not be going home.
Yesterday, as friends and relatives paced around the small house on Navahoe Drive waiting for some news of Hathim's body, a cardboard photograph of the great mosque at Mecca hung on a wall over the living room couch.
On a wall across the room hung a verse from the Koran. Done in elegant silver script, one page bore the name of Allah, while the other reminded readers that there is but one God, who rules the heavens and Earth and holds everything in His hands.
"We believe in God," Hisham said. "He took [Hathim] back. We just have to pray for him. That's all."