a normal day that isn’t

1 Jul

I had set my alarm for the early hour of 6 this morning yet  found myself awake earlier. I drifted off restlessly and awoke again, with an uneasy feeling in my gut. Then, as the morning fog lifted I remembered, it had happened.

I got myself ready but somehow everything took a little longer, and required more effort. It was supposedly vacation time, why was I dragging myself off to some course in Ramat Gan? I checked into facebook; the updates were on the same theme, and with each picture, with each newsclip and each update my heart sank further and further. How was I get through this day? How would any of us get through this day?

As I walked through the quiet streets of Jerusalem, I noticed that the beastly hamsin of the previous day had finally lifted. Cars were covered with a film of dew; I was reminded of the tears of three mothers.

I took a ride with three women who I didn’t really know. We were all teachers and we chatted about this and that, professional issues really; the system, the schools where we taught and a bit of Jewish teacher/ Jerusalem geography. Our journey was smooth enough for us to find a quick coffee before the course began. As we sat in the neighboring coffee shop someone touched on the subject, that subject and we all simultaneously stared into our coffee cups. ‘Let’s talk about anything but that,’ one of us said.

Yes, I was involved in the course and the lectures but every now and then it touched me; a shadow looming. I checked into my facebook account again mid-morning. I saw a picture of the three fresh graves. So they were to be buried in Modiin. Alongside one another. Other newsfeeds came up but I wondered how much I really wanted to know; the forensics, the delayed response of the police and military, the families….

There was a young woman wearing burka on my course.  When I spoke to her, I felt as if I was speaking to a fellow Anglo; her English is impeccable. She probably lived in Australia or something like that. Yet her appearance bothered me.

Yet half of me wants to ask her ‘What do you have to say about all this?’

We are given an activity to do in pairs. She sits alone. I wonder if it is just coincidence that a woman who wears her religion so proudly hasn’t found a partner within our Jewish group.

The day somehow passed. The funeral had been called for 5. My jaw was hurting; I only get TMJ when I’m stressed, or when I’m sad. We left the course at four and I thought of the mothers, the fathers and the funerals that would be undoubtedly packed beyond belief. I wished I was there and wished that I wasn’t.

We drove back and chatted companionably. The news came on. I heard the voices of siblings, mothers, fathers, rabbis. I cried. I think we all did. Which mother wouldn’t? We were stuck in traffic crawling into Jerusalem. There had been a demonstration at the entrance of the city. An hour had passed, we heard the news again. This time they featured a recording of the boys final distraught call to the police. “Turn it off, I can’t bear it!” I begged. I don’t want to bury my head in the sand. Yet I can’t face this pain head-on. I don’t want to think about it but I can’t think of anything else.

I arrived home. My daughter was angry with me that I had been out all day. I apologized but felt numb inside. Every now and then these crazy thoughts come to me ‘What do the mothers think when they see the beds their sons once slept it? The friends they learned with? When every little thing is a reminder of their loss?’

I think of hatred. I think of cruelty. I think of men in masks. Executions.  Syria, Gaza, women in black, flag burnings, suicide belts….I can’t figure out what I should be thinking of; crying mothers or crazy jihadists.

My older daughter has decided she isn’t sad, she’s angry. My husband is trying to find out what God thinks about all this. My eleven year old hasn’t yet come to grips with intense philosophical questions of why innocent boys have to die on their way home from school.

And me? I’m just utterly lost. I don’t understand; or maybe I don’t want to understand. I just want to sob my heart out.

It is a cool evening and I hear the signs of quiet Jerusalem life outside. Everything is somehow subdued, or is it just me? I missed the funeral on TV. The pictures on facebook were enough.

There’s a stillness in the air, the breeze is a semi-comfort. I feel as if we are on the last leg of a long painful journey. Massacres and murders aren’t new to us. Hope and despair are old friends of ours.

God, we are tired, so tired. Bring us home, please.

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