Sunday, November 18, 2012

Swirling Thoughts #222 - We’re fine, B”H

For four days my FB status read:
“My country is under attack. You will hear about it soon enough...when we retaliate.”
My country being Israel. Our attackers, Hamas and its supporters in Gaza. And on the fifth day we did retaliate. And so began Operation Pillar of Defense.

Everyone sent us their heartfelt support. But we’re out of rocket range, I kept telling them.  Don’t feel bad for us. Feel bad for my friends and neighbors whose husbands and sons and sons-in-law are being called to the front.

I wondered if my organic vegetable order would arrive from Ben’s Farm near Bet Shemesh Thursday after a day that included 3 killed in Kiryat Malachi and the first missile to reach Tel Aviv. When it showed up at 8pm my biggest concern was making sure I left time from my Friday Shabbat cooking to check my mustard greens and arugula for bugs.

I was consumed with my organic produce almost until candle-lighting. My mother in law called. I reassured her we were fine as I dealt with my leaves. She asked if our gas masks were in our bomb shelter. I joked that I had moved them to make room for some wine. I spoke to our cousins in Tel Aviv who assured me they were fine. I emailed my mom, as time was running out before Shabbat. We’re fine, I told her. Shabbat Shalom! And so we lit candles, me and my five girls. Asher and Bob made their way to shul.

I started cutting tomatoes into an endless bowl of greens. And suddenly we heard a siren. I screamed up to Barbara in the attic. Suddenly everyone was screaming. We tripped over each other scrambling down to the basement. We were in the bomb shelter. Also known as Bob’s office. But something was not right. It took me a minute but I figured it out. We needed to close the metal plates covering the window.
Barbara: Mommy!
Rosie: Close the window!
Peetoosh: I’m scared!
Becky: Eeeeemmmaaaaa!!!!!!!!!  We’re gonna DIE!!!!!!!!!!
And then they were closed. And then we heard a boom.
Me: Did you hear that?
Barbara: Yes! I heard it!
Becky: Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!
Rosie (hands over her ears): I have a headache! Make Becky stop screaming!
Peetoosh: What’s that noise?
Sarah was the only quiet one.

When Becky stopped screaming to catch her breath, Rosie whispered to me:
I know a perek of Tehillim by heart, Mommy.
Which reminded a suddenly quiet Becky that she knows a special blessing for the soldiers by heart.
And so we started praying and reciting tehillim.
Until Sarah started squealing and Barbara asked:
So how long do we have to stay in here?
Um… I have no idea.           

Slowly we ventured out.  
What if they shoot a rocket at us again?
My heart ached, thinking of families who endure this on a regular basis.
They probably don’t have so many rockets that can reach this far.
But what if they do?
We’ll go back in the shelter.
What if Aba and Asher are walking when there’s a siren?
They will go into a neighbor’s shelter.
What if I am walking in an open field and there is a siren?
Lay down, face to the ground, and cover the back of your head with your hands. Um, when are you going to an open field?
And, like this, we slowly we got back to normal. Sort of.
We talked about what to do if you are wheeling a patient in a hospital bed when the siren sounds. (Duck under the gurney but first place a pillow over the head of the patient!)

Asher and Bob came home and told us how half the shul stayed inside and half went outside to see if they could see the rocket. I cringed until Bob assured me he and Asher were part of the inside half.

Dinner was delicious and quiet, save for some outbursts of hysteria over how long we actually have once the siren sounds (“75 seconds?!…What if I’m in the shower!?”) The salad was totally worth all the effort.

Throughout Shabbat we heard about this one and that one called up for reserve duty. Bob couldn’t get over how normal the abnormal is here. I think it shook him to see his Israeli friends in uniform leaving their homes on a Friday night.

And after Shabbat one Tel Aviv cousin called to see if we were okay. And the reality became clear. We are now in rocket range.  In the same breath he told me about the 10 buses he saw picking up reservists but that I don’t have to worry because Hamas doesn’t have so many rockets that can reach this far. This seems to be the standard line of comfort. Who knows if it's true. He said they’ve never aimed at Jerusalem before but that this is how it is to live in Israel. The abnormal is normal. And that it will all be okay.

My kids went to school like normal today. One texted me a message about a new teacher getting her name wrong. My next text came from my good friend. Whose son just called her from the front to let her know he is turning off his cell phone now and will not be able to call again.

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