Categories
Archives

What You Don’t Know…Can Kill You

Malky Feig Reports from the Front Lines

UNDATED JOURNAL ENTRY

It’s nine fifty five. The kitchen is strewn with the aftermath of supper; the steps are laden with a full day’s clutter. Waterlogged towels lie in a heap on the bathroom floor, not to mention damp socks, soiled pants, and undershirt entangled shirts, despite repeated admonitions to their owners to either lay them out neatly or toss them in the hamper (disentangled, thank you very much!). Laundry? Happily rising like twin towers in the respective light and dark hampers.

So where, you are wondering, have I been? Not out shopping despite the evening-hours only policy in this city of ours. Not sleeping, either, although the hackneyed exhaustion doesn’t even stand a chance at describing the drunken haze through which I’ve been wading since 5:00 this afternoon. Not cooking or baking or doing any of the other chores that morning’s fantasies put on the to-do list. No.

 

 I’ve spent the last three hours sitting with clients. I’ve been listening, sharing, asking, empathizing, laughing, discussing, validating. All of these clients are young, some younger than others and come from functional homes. They have normal lives, typical interests, healthy concerns and worries. So why, you ask, was I speaking with them?

 

 Because I am their mother.

 

I am their mother and I want to know what’s going on in their lives. Not just in their lives, as in what they have done today and where they’ve been, but in their hearts and souls. In their dreams. In their wishes. I want to hear their minds, feel their heartbeat, see myself mirrored in the dark of their eyes as I listen intently to their words and to their silences.

 

And although I am bone weary, and although there is much ruin and rubble waiting to be leveled by my magic wand, I choose to sit on beds and rub little backs, choose to smooth shiny wet hairs away from glistening foreheads, as I ——————————————————————————————-

  

 

29 Tammuz, 2014 – Operation Protective Edge

 

My eyes drop to the bottom of the page searching for the end of the sentence.

 

As I what? Please, tell me! As I what?

 

 I feel the desperate annoyance of an eavesdropper whose hearing has been intercepted by an irreverent rustle just as the conversation is reaching its crux. I am hankering to hear the end of this flattering dialogue with my self- a noble, overflowing self that I neither remember nor recognize from eons ago.

 

When did I write this undated entry? Where had I been going with that dangling sentence? And how come I can’t muster even the fuzziest halo of those glowing descriptions I used to paint bedtime?

 

The ruin and rubble- that still fits. As do the waterlogged towels and the cluttered steps and the tangled shirts.

 

 Was that me, though, sitting patiently on beds, listening unwearyingly and stroking lovingly, reveling in the rapture of the moment?

 

Bedtime, these days, has become a stressful affair, an impossible frustration that makes me wonder if bedlam has more in common with bedtime than its first three letters. It drags on for hours in unrelenting slow motion. And just when I think I may be able to tip-toe stealthily out of the room, an ominous wail pierces the fragile silence. Desperate fingers scrabble in the darkness, blankets are flung into the air, and hours of patient lullabies are dissolved in a panic stricken jumble of sleep-leaden arms and legs.

 

The siren rises and falls.

 

And bedtime begins again.

 

And it isn’t only bedtime. The sirens catch us at all hours of day and night, whisking children out of the bath and chasing them down the stairs, disrupting meals and canceling trips, siphoning humanity off the streets and freezing weddings mid-dance. 

 

 How do you do it? Friends call to ask me. How do you face the tension and stress of not knowing when the next siren will sound, the harshness of pulling kids out of their dreams to the brutal reality of rockets? How do you live beneath the ongoing roar of warplanes and the hiss of the Iron Dome’s missiles? What does it feel like to be a fugitive in your own city, slinking along the shadows of buildings as you venture out for essentials, mentally calculating the distance to the nearest shelter on an innocent trip to the doctor?

 

 And although I appreciate the sincerity of these inquiries, although I am touched by the solidarity and empathy displayed by my loving friends and family, although I reply with words of emunah sweetened by the broad revelation of Yad Hashem during these trying past weeks, I have a confession to make: the missiles are not the keenest of my trials.

 

This war, I am learning, together with our valiant troops, is not about combatting rocket fire. It is not about the missiles that our Iron Dome batteries are proudly equipped to intercept. It is about a city, no, an empire, of insidious tunnels, worming their way right under our vigilant scrutiny into the heart of our territory, jeopardizing the very soil we walk on.