I’ll start by explaining that in Israel, a common phrase is “yehiye b’seder” – it will be okay. Israelis say this all the time – sometimes sarcastically, sometimes seriously. Yehiye b’seder.
It’s 10:30 p.m. in Israel and I know where my children are.For those of you who don’t get the reference – years ago (do they still?), there was an announcement every night at 10:00 p.m. saying, “It’s 10:00 p.m. Do you know where your children are?”
For the last 3 hours, I didn’t know where Aliza was…actually, a bit less – perhaps 2.5 hours. She went to a new friend about an hour plus away in a Jewish community called Kiryat Arba…which is also Hebron. The buses that go there are bulletproof – and they need to be. Often, Arabs stone the buses; sometimes they throw firebombs.
More often than not, the bus travels the route in complete safety…just once in a while…
Since Aliza has never traveled this route before, she went with an older girl from our neighborhood (courtesy of a dear friend’s daughter who made the arrangements). Saturday night, another girl from our neighborhood was supposed to get on the bus at one place; a bit later, Aliza was supposed to get on, and together make their way home.
Aliza’s phone battery went dead. She got on the bus, but the older girl wasn’t there. So Aliza got off the bus. She borrowed someone’s phone to tell me that she had gotten on and gotten off…by the time I called that number back, Aliza was not with that woman anymore. I was too frantic to ask enough questions. The girl she was supposed to meet got on the next bus; Aliza wasn’t there.
My friend’s daughter had a car and went driving around; she met up with Aliza’s friend and together they searched the bus stops in Kiryat Arba. We all figured Aliza had gotten on a bus to Jerusalem, just not the same bus as the older girl.
I was left unable to reach her, unsure of where she was. I knew that if she got on a bus to Jerusalem, she would know to stay on until the end of the trip, when it arrived at the Central Bus Station. What I wasn’t sure about was whether Aliza knew how to get from Jerusalem to Maale Adumim.
The thought that kept going through my mind was that she had no phone to call us or anyone else. I pictured her alone and frightened. She told me she didn’t love the idea of traveling at night. Unsure what to do, Elie and I drove to the Central Bus Station; I could barely speak.
When we got there, Elie went to check incoming buses while I found a place to park the car. I walked to the Central Bus Station, desperately hoping he would call to say he found her.
I called him as I went in the entrance where long-distance buses arrive. Elie walked to meet me. We agreed that he would go to where the Maale Adumim bus leaves Jerusalem while I watched incoming buses. Twice, buses came in from Kiryat Arba and I watched as people got off. Both times, I asked the bus drivers if they had seen a young girl get on the bus and get off. The first said he didn’t remember.
The second didn’t think so but when he saw how upset I was, he said, “it will be okay; don’t worry.” I could barely talk to him because my throat was clogged with tears and fears. I asked him what time he had left Kiryat Arba. 8:00 p.m. – the other bus had left at 7:40 p.m. “Yehiye b’seder,” he said again. I just nodded, unable to speak.
As near as I can figure, Aliza caught the bus right before these two. By the time we arrived at the Central Bus Station, she had already left to walk to the Maale Adumim bus line. By the time Elie got there, she had already caught the bus home.
For the next 35 minutes or so, while Elie walked back and forth and while I waited and worried, she was riding the bus to our home. Mostly, I tried to block all the terrible thoughts out because logically, she was either safe in Kiryat Arba, or safe in Jerusalem. Through it all, I had no feeling that anything had happened and mostly, I think I was afraid of her being afraid.
Shortly after 9:30, my husband called to tell me that Aliza had arrived home. She didn’t cry once…I cried enough tears for both of us. But there is a huge difference between being scared and being terrified; about being afraid your child is upset, and being afraid your child is being hurt.
Not for a single moment did I fear she had been kidnapped. Not for a second did I experience the paralyzing fear a parent must have in other countries. All along, my greatest fear was that she was lost somewhere and afraid and without a phone, I didn’t know how to get to her.
I can’t begin to explain how much I appreciated a perfect stranger – the bus driver – assuring me that she was fine and all would be well. And it is…she had a great time; enjoyed the visit with her friend’s family. She liked the food (but likes mine better). The challah that her friend’s mother made was delicious (but mine is better, she told me). She met friends; walked around, had a very nice time.
“I should have called,” she said when we talked about the evening. But I assured her that she did great. She got herself home; and she did call once. She had no idea that I was so concerned. She also knows, deep down, that I’d have gone to the end of the world for her.
I can’t be upset about this evening because it couldn’t have ended better than it did…it’s 11:00 p.m. and I know where my children are. Amira is with her husband and her son; Elie is with his wife and daughter. By now, Shmulik is back home with his wife and Davidi is at his dorm in Jerusalem and Aliza…Aliza is going to bed in her room, knowing that we love her so very much.
It will be okay, it is okay. It is a national saying, a promise, if you will. Yehiye b’seder.
Visit A Soldier’s Mother.Paula Stern
About the Author: Paula R. Stern is CEO of WritePoint Ltd., a leading technical writing company in Israel. Her personal blog, A Soldier's Mother, has been running since 2007. She lives in Maale Adumim with her husband and children, a dog, too many birds, and a desire to write.The author's opinion does not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Jewish Press.
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