I sit, staring at a blank page, not having the slightest idea on how to begin. How do I best put on paper emotions too strong for words, too strong for the heart to bear? And who am I to complain about a heavy heart?
Our trip to Israel began before we took off. It began with a phone call from our son, Shlomo. ”Mommy, everyone is ok. in our family.” At that point, I knew something terrible was about to be revealed.
As I stood in the doorway of my office, Shlomo went on to tell me that Ari Weiss had been killed in action in Shechem. I felt the wind knocked out of me, my knees giving way. I knew that no matter how and to whom I would express the level of sadness that came over me, nobody would understand.
In a daze, I tried my hardest to get my work done. Avshalom and I consciously made an effort not to tell Eitan and Michal, who were at home, this awful news via telephone. One of us had to be there in person to be with them.
But Eitan had gone online to check the news in Israel. There, on the Ma’ariv website, was a picture of Ari Weiss next to a headline about a soldier killed in Shechem. Eitan says his chair fell back behind him and he must have gasped or yelled, for Michal ran in to see what happened. She too saw the nightmarish headline, and the two together began to cry like they never had before. Eitan called me sobbing, and I could hear the sounds of Michal screaming in the background. I told him I would be home as soon as possible.
When the time finally came for me to leave work, I heard the wishes of ”have a good time in Israel ” and managed somehow to keep the tears at bay. As I walked to my car the tears began.
The four of us (Avshalom, Eitan, Michal and I) now had to pack for a trip that had taken on a whole different meaning. We restlessly tossed and turned through the night and silently cried and privately spoke to our Maker, asking ”why” and knowing that no answer was forthcoming.
We left on our journey and sat silently the 16 hours it took to get us there. Once we arrived we waited impatiently for our luggage. I knew that a few yards away from me my bachor, Shlomo, awaited us. We exited the terminal and there was Shlomo — tired, sad, but with a grateful smile on his face. We needed his hug just as much as he needed ours, and we quickly loaded up our rental car and were on our way to Elkana, to gather up my next precious gem, Tali, who patiently waited for us at Michlelet OROT.
We took a wrong turn, in the direction of ”Indian country,” but made an illegal u-turn and finally got to our destination. It was wonderful to gather Tali up into my arms, for now I had the comfort of my two children who were living the life I longed for in Eretz Yisrael.
I was introduced to Tali’s friends and classmates and hugged those I know from Los Angeles. But I was eager to get to the most important destination of my trip — and quite possibly of my life and of my heart — to be menachem aveilim and to hug/comfort/cry with Stuart, Susie, Elie, Penina, Tali, Yedidya and Ayelet.
As I approached their home, I noticed a massive tent attached to the house to provide more private space for well-wishers and shiva callers. The army had supplied the tent, knowing there was no way the house itself would suffice for the amount of visitors expected.