Thursday, July 31, 2014

A Time to Cry

Standing on line at the post office this morning, I started to cry.  Heaving sobs burst out of me, the first time I have "given in" to the daily stress here in Israel since we returned from the United States almost two weeks ago.

The guy at the counter didn't seem concerned at all, several other people came over to me, offered me tissues and tried to reassure me that "soon this will end. It will be OK."

One person asked me, "Why are you crying?"  And I answered with that characteristic Israeli shrug of the shoulder, "For no real reason, just like that."  And another woman said to me, "No one cries for no reason these days."

It was easier to dismiss my tears in front of these kind strangers than to explain:
I am crying because our soldiers are dying every day to keep us safe, while literally the rest of the political world on planet Earth tries to convince us that we are the criminals and that we ought to cease defending our lives, our very right to exist.

I am crying because I am physically exhausted, having not slept decently in the last two weeks because of night terrors and nasty thoughts and concerns for the security of my daughter and my extended family.

I am crying because some guy (yes, a dating thing in the middle of all this) treated me like garbage in a time that I am more vulnerable, and I lament the unfairness of my doing all that I do, alone. (On the heels of my brother's wedding, and the start of his beautiful life in marriage...)

I am crying because if it had not been for my birthday several days after we returned, a day in which luckily people pay attention to you,  I think that many people would have not noticed that we had been away at all.

I am crying because after not working for two and a half weeks, and having the expenses of the trip, something in my car went "pop" and now the windows are opening and closing by themselves.  Of course my issues - physical, emotional or financial - are nothing compared to the experiences of the soldiers and their families, and the parents of the three boys murdered one month ago, the trigger for this military incursion. I should just be content, it could be argued, that my family is thank G-d healthy and that we live in Jerusalem, where there has been relative quiet.

I am crying because I am still emotionally jet-lagged from my trip, a large part of me wishing I had extended my visit in the United States where I did not have to face the struggle of this current Israeli reality.

After the post office, I walked home while attempting to avoid contact with people, ashamed of my feelings and my blotchy eyes and my running nose.  Went to work and shut off my feelings, because that is what I must do;  if my schedule allows it, I will cry some more later, before I have to pick up Raphaela from her last day of camp, and put on a brave face again.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Girl Power

"This is a wonderful day!  Thank you, Mommy."

There is nothing quite as empowering - for a five year old or a 46 year old - as having the opportunity to stroke the horn of a rhinosaurus.


(The chief care taker of the herbivores at the Zoo says that the two beasts, named Shalom and Carmi, are like "big sloppy dogs," each one wanting attention.)

Monday, July 28, 2014

Growing Up

This morning, from Raphaela: "I need a proper pocket book, because some day soon I am going to be a Mommy."

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Blessings

Every Friday night, after I light Shabbat candles, I give Raphaela a blessing, and then the two of us sit together and say "thank you" for the gifts and the positive experiences we have had in the last week.

This Friday night, Raphaela said, "Mommy, I want to give you a blessing too."  I leaned over, she placed her hands on my head and whispered: " Mommy, I love you so much. I never want you to die. I love you so much and I thank G-d for keeping you safe."

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Happy Birthday to Me

How does a single mother in Jerusalem celebrate her birthday with jet lag and the background stress of a war?

I spent most of the day not working (the present), so I could wear a dress today instead of clinic clothing, and invested a little extra time with make up and jewelry.  After dropping Raphaela off at camp, onward to errands all over town:  post office, bank, supermarket, dry cleaners and electrolysis (sort of a present).

Grabbed a quick bite to eat, and then I picked up my daughter from camp;  together we made my birthday cake and had it for dessert.

Wild times, I tell you.

Tomorrow I get to clean the house for Shabbat and take Harry to the vet for his yearly shots.

Mostly, I am grateful to live in a country where despite a war, I can have a "normal" day and I can see signs of community all around me:  Raphaela's class made pictures for injured soldiers and delivered them to the hospital, and they also assembled a care package to be sent to soldiers on the front lines.  30,000 Israelis, most of whom did not know the American-born soldier who died this week, attended his funeral on Mount Herzl, and continue to stream over to the hotel where his family is in mourning, sitting Shiva.  All over the social media, posted information regarding the support of soldiers and their families, and the people living under constant bombardment, especially in the South of the country.

Maybe when this phase of the war is over, we will remember that we must remain united, and not just during those times when our enemies actively attempt to wipe the State of Israel off the map.

Monday, July 21, 2014

War Report from Jerusalem

Upon arriving home, I noted that the two eggs in the pigeon's nest in our window had hatched, and there sat two somewhat large chicks, being tended by their parents.  Since then, one of the two chicks has lifted its wings and learned to fly;  his sibling adamantly refuses to budge from the window sill.

It has been almost amusing, the perpetual "conversation" between the adult pigeon and this baby, which probably translates to, "Come on already, your brother/sister figured it out, it's not scary.  Get out of the house and get a job..."  And yet in the last week there has been no progress, the chick is staying put.

Watching Dora last night on cable television, the show was regularly interrupted with notifications of bombings taking place in real time throughout the south, a free service courtesy of the government.

I get it, it is scary out there, and now more than ever for those of us living in Israel during a war.  Last night we both went to sleep early in an attempt to finish off our jet lag, and I woke up with a terrified start in the early hours of the morning, having just dreamt that I got separated from Raphaela during a missile attack, playing out the horrible possibilities as a parent.  I never really fell back asleep after that, my heart was racing too fast and I did not want to close my eyes and replay that scene in my head.

Then, while walking Raphaela to camp today, we stopped at the usual spot to feed the street cats for whom we have taken responsibility.  An Israeli soldier sat on the wall, he could not have been more than 22 or 23 years old, unlit cigarette dangling from his fingers.  I told Raphaela to thank him, to acknowledge that he is putting his life in jeopardy to keep us secure.  I asked the soldier where he was stationed, and he told us that he was waiting for his ride to the army base, and after that he would be placed on the border of Gaza in the South of Israel.

With tears in my eyes, I wished him well and told him to "stay safe," as if he or I have any control over the matter.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Home Again, Home Again



 
 
From New York to Kansas to Boston to London, we have arrived home, to Jerusalem.  I must admit that I did not want to take my daughter into a war zone, when life in America seems so familiar and so comfortable, superficially easy.  Honestly, I know very few of my friends and family in the United States who wake up each morning and think, "Who is trying to kill me today?"  (There is always a little room for paranoia, especially in New York City...)
 
On Friday morning, jet lag be damned, Raphaela and I went to Palmach street; we dropped off clothing at the dry cleaners, got supplies for Shabbat and restocked the fridge from the supermarket.  Everything and everywhere, Raphaela proclaimed with joy, "That's my Gan!"  "That's my bakery!"  "This is the best day ever, I'm home!"  And I was reminded why it was so important for us to come back to Israel, because in her heart, Raphaela is an Israeli and Jerusalem is the place where I found my life.
 
Yet, regardless of my jet lag, I stayed awake all night waiting for the sirens to go off, and wondering where Raphaela and I would be safe from attack, and praying for the safe return of our soldiers involved in the ground operation in Gaza.