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Each Name A Promise

May 9, 2009 | by

Thoughts from a bereaved Israeli mother.

Each name a promise. Each name a dream. Each name a hope. We can only bring them to life by naming them but they cannot answer our call any longer.

They are gone. Extinguished their dreams, vanished their hopes.

Death seized them at some point during the days of the conflict. Inflicted randomly by a demonic enemy that had no qualms about using civilians as human shields and blaming it on Israel.

It is easy to react with well-deserved indignation but much harder to close that immense black hole that has opened in our homes, because when one child dies, Israel mourns the loss collectively.

These are the random thoughts of a bereaved parent; the child could be yours or mine. We have been through this pain many times, the wound will always be there, deep inside.

August 2006

The dreaded call, the door that opens to an unwilling messenger of terrible news. The end of life at its peak.

The loving words, the lullabies I sang to put you to sleep, the laughter and the fights, the character that I custom made for the stories you liked me to tell you, the brave maternal smile when I sent you off with one final kiss and a 'Call us when you can!', the tears that spring up before I know it, and seemingly come from a bottomless pit of anguish, who will dry them, what will give me some peace?

Our friends call on us at all hours, we smile to make them feel better, but our heart grieves, and they know it. I am grateful for their company but I would prefer to reminisce alone, to evoke your smiling face and your wit.

Our dear rabbi tries to pronounce words of comfort but I feel sorry for him because they only make me weep. And so I, like too many Israelis, must attend to the mechanics of daily living with a heavy heart, pretending the note he sent us from the front before his tank got hit is not there, in the precise corner of my first dresser drawer, because I know that if I read it once again I will break down and our younger son is watching me, afraid and trying to cope courageously.

I am unable to abide by Camus' words ("We will forgive but not forget"). I will neither forgive the aggressors nor forget their despicable deeds.

I am not yet ready for that.

I must be strong, I must face up to the supreme challenge to go on living, with my loved one unseen by my side, in my heart, an indestructible part of my soul. If I don't the enemy wins. I will not grant them that victory, my child would not have wanted that. And I am certain that he is watching me, giving me the courage to affirm that, out of the depths, I will rise and affirm my humanity in the face of their lack of.

Today there is an empty place at the table but we will still meet again, and together we will watch the sun dispel the darkness...

An Israeli Mother

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