Tell me because I can’t remember I asked my friends about April 25, 2005:
I was sitting on the bed closest to the door, and you on the other. We were facing each other, so our knees were nearly touching. There was someone to your left, I am pretty sure it was Lalo. Your phone rang, you answered in your usual jovial upbeat way. You must have known it was one of Tsiki’s friends because I faintly remember you answering with a sly joke or funny voice. You had your cell phone in your left hand, up against your left ear. A few seconds passed as you listened to the voice on the other end, your response was “I don’t understand what you are saying. I DON”T UNDERSTAND WHAT YOU ARE SAYING”. You passed me the phone. The boy on the other end repeated himself. I passed the phone to Lalo, who confirmed the news.
You sprang up from the bed and I followed. You came towards me, almost for a hug, almost for a battle. You pushed me against the wall with your hands very, very tight around my arms and wailed into my face. A sound so deep from your gut, from your heart, from your breaking heart, that the noise did not seem human. I ran out into the hallway and pounded on Seth and Luke’s door. You were behind me but had fallen to your knees and were crawling down the hallway towards us, wailing. Everyone came out of their hotel rooms to see what was happening, all Peace Corps members who loved you dearly. I remember so vividly you on your knees, and the faces of all these people, helpless to make this pain lessen. (Geneva Loftus)
Last August , I entered a brightly lit living room on the outskirts of Tel Aviv and sat behind a circle of young women. There was a lot of us and many of them were the newest members of the Girlfriends of Fallen Soldiers support group from the summer war.
I looked at the bewildered faces of these new recruits. At an age where the scorching sun of the Middle East has not yet affected their youthful faces, they have not yet developed the wrinkles to hold their sadness. Some of the young women are fidgeting with the invisible hole in their shorts- tracing empty circles into their thighs, tears gathering in the corners of their eyes. Some sat with a fireball of anger inside their chest, releasing the pressure with the incessant tapping of their heels onto the floor tiles- others had their eyes frozen towards the floor, staring into the invisible darkness that is grief, the only movement I could see was the slow and steady rise and fall of their breasts. I buried my own head into crook of my right arm and bent over my thighs in my chair.
And I then I wept.
Because I remembered sitting in that chair, tracing my fingers around my knee cap waiting for my heart to explode. And within the months after the death of Tsiki Eyal, I held my palms up to the sky helplessly and asked how I could survive the next day. And then I asked if I survived tomorrow, how could I possibly survive another decade with this pain?
It’s been 10 years.
Last weekend, one of my dear friends from the Peace Corps came to visit for a short weekend in the middle of his conference of Istanbul. What made this visit so important to me was that Seth is one of the small handful of people who knew me before I met Tsiki, also met Tsiki, witnessed me experience my father’s death on March 29, 2005 and was present when I experienced Tsiki’s death less than a month later. He also watched me grow into the life I have now.
And I didn’t realize how much I needed him to come precisely at the time he did.
I needed him to come and visit me to remind me of who I was before 2005 because I couldn’t remember. I needed him to tell me what happened, I needed him to remind me of small the details that have floated out of my mind in the last ten years but most of all I needed him to look at me and tell me I am OK. That I rebuilt and I am OK. The last ten years have been so tiring I fought long and hard. I demand an honorary PhD in Project Management because my life fell apart and I put it back together. I rebuilt every detail in my soul and custom crafted every wound so I could carry it with me.
I am OK.
I don’t have to prove it through this blog post. All who know me know that I am OK. I have a caring and wonderful husband who I love, who is perfection who has my heart- kids I adore, job satisfaction.
I ride my bike to work. Even my dog is awesome.
But there are 31 newly bereaved girlfriends who are experiencing Israel’s Memorial Day on a very personal and painful level for the first time starting tonight. Like me, they have become part of the club that no one wants to join. These 31 young women have to get through the first year of their long journey. They are not OK. They are holding their palms to the sky defeated asking how are they supposed to get through the next day, let alone the next decade?
They are wondering how they could ever love again.
They are wondering if they will go crazy from their grief.
They are wondering if they could finish their school or get through their job another day without a mental breakdown.
They are wondering if they will ever stop crying.
If the pain in their chest is their broken heart.
They are wondering if their soldier is somewhere wanting to come back to them. Or perhaps, they should go to him.
They are playing every scenario in their head where he doesn’t die.
They are developing anxiety and depression.
They cannot sleep and when they do, their dreams are violent and suffocating.
They are wondering if there is anything left inside for someone to love. And if there is, if anyone could love what is left.
There is loneliness, there is disbelief.
There is a loss of faith. There is regaining faith.
……There is a whole process that they must begin and experience.
And I am so sorry. I am so sorry that anyone ever has to go through losing the love of their life.
I think about Tsiki Eyal every single day of my life.
The human heart has an amazing will to carry its wounds and to continue beating. I am OK.
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