For the third time, Mahmoud Al-Qassab lowers the body of one of his children into the ground. He steps back as neighbors and relatives shovel dirt over his teenage daughter's grave.
He does not cry or wail.
"I thank God this is my third martyr: Ahmed, Abdullah and now her. I thank God, and I will not say anything against his fate," Mahmoud told an activist filming the small funeral.
Just a few months ago, 18-year-old Ayat Al-Qassab sang and danced with her mother and aunts as they dressed the bride in her wedding gown. Now, her shattered and bloodied body lies in a grave below the crumbling, bullet-ridden buildings of Homs.
Read more about Ayat's wedding
"She was killed and she took my heart, my soul, my mind and everything with her, but we will not give up. We will not retreat. We must keep moving forward," husband-turned-widower Mohammad Jumbaz said quietly.
Ayat did not lead battles or chair diplomatic talks. She is just like many other Syrians -- young, hopeful, and now dead.
"There was no daughter like her. She was bright and beautiful and playful. Then the siege happened and with it her destiny," Aisha Al-Qassab, Ayat's mother, said as tears streamed down her face.
Ayat and Mohammad recently found out they were expecting their first child. The new family was elated, even as UNICEF estimates that 2.5 million people, including many children, are affected by the violence and instability in Syria.
"My love, she was only married a few months, then pregnant and now a martyr," Ayat's mother said.
A 120 mm rocket fired into the family home struck Ayat in the head, killing her and her unborn child instantly. Ayat's father, who was standing nearby, was hit in the shoulder and wounded.
"The week before she died, a rocket attack injured her hand, and I had this feeling in my heart that it was a sign. It was as if God gave us just one more week to take her in and say goodbye," Mohammad said.
Young, defiant and in love
Brave and defiant, Ayat hardly spoke of the frivolities of bridal gowns and wedding cake.
"I wore a white dress, but we did not have a traditional wedding because of this animal in power," Ayat said in an interview shortly after getting married. "We hope once the regime falls we can have a wedding, because our happiness is the end of this government."
Although Ayat and Mohammad married just a week after meeting, the two were in love, her mother said.
"She was young, and I had not planned on her marrying, but the siege brought her destiny. A young hardworking man liked her and she saw him and he saw her and they fell in love and got married," Aisha said, shaking her head as if trying to forget.
The newlyweds saw their marriage as a symbol of the resistance against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
For Mohammad, the part-time rebel fighter, revolution remained his shield, but the young man also believed living and loving was the greatest defiance of all.
"She was wonderful. We were newlyweds and we were happy. Even if she upset me I could not be mad at her. Her gentleness captured my heart and I pray that God opens the gates of heaven for her," he said, cracking a tiny smile as he remembered his wife.
Guns and battles are far from Mohammad's true passion: baking sweet desserts. The young pastry chef loves making indulgent treats for Homs' fighters, families and children.
"When I give a family sweets, it is as if I am handing them a treasure," he said as he laughed loudly for the first time, thankful for the power of a single cookie in a city ravaged by war.
Ayat shared Mohammad's delight for delivering glimpses of joy through pastries drizzled with sweet "ater" or syrup, even as gas, flour, sugar and milk were in short supply.
"She loved sweets, and more than that, she loved to watch me make them. We had even made date cookies and she died before she could eat them, so we gave them away," Mohammad said, still smiling.
A childhood cut short