On December 28, 2008…seven years ago today…I walked around with a cannonball of anxiety, fear…heck…I was scared more than I had ever been and perhaps more than I ever will be by the reality that my country and my son were headed for war. It wasn’t the first time I felt “out of control” of my son’s life but it was the hardest of lessons to learn.
Always until that point, or at least for the year previous to that, I mistakenly thought I still maintained some semblance of control. On this day, seven years ago, I knew I had no control. There was nothing I could do. Every other time, I believed I could get in my car, drive somewhere and grab my kid and bring her or him home. On this day, seven years ago, I knew that I couldn’t. All I could do was stand on the side and watch in what was to become a horror so deep, there were moments when I wasn’t sure I’d survive it.
But on December 28, 2008, we still weren’t completely sure that we’d be at war…and so I wrote about our dining room table. It was, looking back, really more about my life and what would come.
David will be home next weekend…unless he decides to go to his yeshiva with friends. I made corned beef…or to be precise, I’m making corned beef…it’s in the refrigerator now pickling itself. My oldest son went to war twice…I can’t get past this time of year without remembering the weeks he was away…deep down, I knew I would survive the second time Elie was called up. I had to worry about his wife…which is really funny because Lauren is so strong and I was the one who fell apart and she told me to breathe and sit down…when I should have been comforting her but it helped thinking I had to watch over her for Elie (another laughable thought – Lauren watches over all of us…she’s amazing).
If I try to think forward to a time when David will be called…I can’t. I was lucky with Shmulik, so very lucky…he had things he did in the army that were dangerous, places he went that scared me – although most of the time, I didn’t know…but I had the security to know that he’d be home the next day or the next or the one after that.
In war, you don’t know when you will next see your child…or, God forbid, IF you will see him (or her). I don’t know how I survived it twice and can’t believe I could manage it again. For now, life is simple…Davidi is in basic training, nowhere near ready for combat. But there is a goal to their strengthening him, teaching him how to climb higher, run faster and farther, be stronger…and shoot truer. Their goal, not mine…mine is just to have him home.
The table is small now…a different table than the one I wrote about in The Table, though I imagine that table will again grace my dining room at some point in the future. Either way, the one I have now also has a leaf that makes the table larger…last weekend, we opened the table. This past weekend, we left it small…what will be next weekend? I guess we’ll see.
For now, I look back and remember a time I wish I could forget.
December 28, 2008
Two rockets have hit Ashkelon and two more have now landed in the Ashdod area. That’s the farthest north they’ve hit so far and brings tens of thousands more into danger….
We bought our dining room table less than a year after we were married. As a young couple, we were quite amazed to have this beautiful table with six chairs. Each week, my husband sat at the head of the table and I sat next to him. It seemed too far away and silly for me to sit at the other end of the table. When we had company, sometimes I sat at the other end and sometimes I stayed by my husband and sat others around. It stayed that nice compact size for many years. We had guests here and there, but each time the guests left, the table went right back to its six-seater size….
We moved to Israel with three children and still the table stayed small. We had a fourth child, our third son and finally after a little over a decade of marriage, we had filled the table to capacity….
After our fifth child grew large enough to actually sit at the table, we entered a new reality – one leaf was almost a constant in the house and we now had a table that seats eight comfortably. So, for the next few years, the table would grow to 10 and shrink to 8. There was never a reason to go back to its 6-seater days – our family alone was 7 and I was most definitely at one end with my husband far away on the other side.
Then less than two years ago, my daughter got married – that put us up to 8, but with her marriage, she moved out and so we were sometimes 6 and sometimes 8. Two weeks later, Elie went into the army and so we were sometimes five, sometimes six and sometimes 7 and sometimes 8 and the weekly dance of the table begins.
And sometimes, if I don’t know, or I believe we will be six or seven or eight, I’ll leave the table ready for eight. It’s a silly thing – it takes only moments to change in any direction and yet, it’s almost like a preparation for the Sabbath to come, a bit of anticipation that even though the peace and quiet of the Sabbath is leaving us, already, we are thinking about the one that will come soon.
This morning, as I put the final things away, I looked at the table and realized I don’t know what to do. Such a silly thing, I thought to myself. They are bombing Gaza. Schools in the area are closed. The Home Front has issued warnings. Depending on how close you live, you should be ready to enter safe areas in 15 seconds, 30 seconds or 45 seconds, and I’m looking at my table! Maybe it’s a mental breakdown, but I can’t think what next Shabbat will bring!
If Elie goes north, he was supposed to be home next weekend – so I’d probably leave the table because he likes extra space and that puts us at 6, just one guest and I’ll have to open the table again anyway. My daughter and her husband were here this weekend and probably won’t come next time – maybe fold the table. Elie said if they stay on base where they are now, even though he isn’t coming home today as planned, he probably won’t be home. We could be down to 5. If my second son is in Yeshiva, we’ll be four – a table that seats 8 would be cold and huge when we want our Sabbath meals to be intimate and warm. Whatever my reasoning, what I feel is that it’s too big a decision, too much to concentrate on. Folding it means I really think Elie won’t be home and I don’t want to deal with this now.
I’m smart enough to know that deep inside of me, the table symbolizes so much more. It’s my family – will we be together? Where will the pieces of my family be?
Full post from 2008 here.