Look into the mirror and say Bloody Mary three times, and it is said she will come crawling on through into this world. The world has been speaking too much of war and now all around there seems to be existential horrors. Maybe speaking too much of war drags it through into our reality and births it into a bloody reality. Just to be sure I have covered all the mirrors in the house.
Am Yisrael chai.
The Jewish people live. The Jewish people have a right to live peacefully and to secure that peace and safety. My heart breaks for the suffering in Israel. My heart breaks at the fact that I can do precisely nothing to help.
I sit here in relative safety and waves of guilt flow over me. This relative safety as far as my experience of life is concerned, is fragile and tenuous. I sit staring at the candle flame in the little glass jar and pray for the dead. I figured one more little light couldn’t hurt.
Peace has never been an option for humanity as long as the concepts of home and belonging are concerned. This land is my land…this land was made for you and me, means that the ones on the outside of ‘you and me’ are not welcome in ‘my home land’. This is the way wars start and carry on eternally. A solution has to be found. People cannot wander for ever. They get tired and need to put down roots. Sometimes the most impossible intricate puzzles, the most complex situations have a breaking point where that knot of contention is sliced through and resolved unexpectedly. I am hoping for the most peaceful resolution possible. I am expecting more widespread suffering. I cannot watch the news. Every story of horror and pain, every tortured face makes me wail and want to run. Running is always my response to horror. I am a consummate coward. I never stand and fight. If I get trapped and beaten, as happened many times, I try to stay as functional as possible, then I grab my babies and run. My tragedy was on a domestic scale, yet it was my whole world. This widespread suffering is too much to bear.
I have been in exile almost my entire adult life. I have wandered here and there, making like a nomad and where ever my hat fell, was my temporary resting place. Now I am home. California is my home. I don’t quite belong anywhere, but I like it here. I am safe for the most part. I am left alone…mostly….I am cared about more than I ever have been. I am supported. I have a place where I can sleep every single night and don’t have to worry about being moved on…finally. Home. What would I do if my home was threatened? Would I fight to protect what I have? Would I simply move on? Well, I can answer that. I was threatened in my home, and I left. I left my safety, I left my shelter. I ran, and I kept on running. I was homeless, on the road, living from this place to that for five years. I ran…but then I am me, and I would never expect anyone else to be able to do the same, or to want to. My goal was survival of the family at all costs. I mostly succeeded. I partly failed. I did my best, but I am not, sadly, superwoman. I could only save part of my world.
I should really buy more furniture. We are rattling around this big apartment like we are wearing clothes that are too big for us. I dare not do it. Things are anchors. If I put a bookshelf in my bedroom or heaven forbid, a desk, I am committed to living. If I add an armchair to the living room then I have to say I am carrying on, or really, that I am convinced that the world will allow me to carry on living here, with the Boy and I am not about to be thrown back into the wilderness for more years without a shelter over my head.
I look back to the days when the boy would wake up soaked by the rain and condensation. His joggers and shirt would be freezing and wet with rain where the roof of the van had leaked or the tent had leaked. I would be in the same state. His little hands would shake with cold and I would gather him into my arms and try and get him into dry clothes and warm him up. We were sometimes so cold that I was scared we would die out there in the wilderness, exiled from safety, from ‘home’, from our dry beds and our clean clothes. I was scared, but had no other options and no way to get inside. I was too cold, too tired and too broken to even really worry. That point where you give up trying, where you give up worrying and what will be simply has to be, you have no more strength, is the most dangerous state to be in. It sickens me that anyone ever had to feel that way, that helplessness, that weakness. It is why we have faith, because at times like that what else is there? There is nothing, in my experience, apart from a few words of pleading to an absent G_d, hoping that somehow he is listening and will agree your worthless life is worth saving, or at least the precious lives of your babies.
The dog days of summer look to be over. That last gasp of the hottest weather of the year has faded and San Francisco’s natural air conditioning has been turned back on. I cannot see the hills from outside my window, they are shrouded in fog. It is cold and dark and glorious. The hot weather was too much for me to bear. The autoimmune disease has flared up, leaving my skin inflamed in a wolf-like mask over my cheeks and nose. It is quite sore. These minor discomforts and my ultimately perilous health are meaningless. I have had my life. Out there young people are losing theirs and it is not how life should go. We should never outlive our children. It is simply too much to bear.
I will be kind to myself today. No reading comments under news articles. I will read and I will light another candle today and keep the vigil. There is nothing else I can do. I don’t want to talk about how the upsurge of antisemitism has led to terrorists feeling emboldened, like public opinion might be enough on their side to commit these horrendous war crimes. I don’t want to talk about Waters and Kanye and the rest of the hateful bunch. I want to sit here immersed in tragedies both personal and wider, and feel my ultimate uselessness in the face of all of it. I want to wallow in grief and feel the terror. I want to embrace my exile and give thanks for the survival of my Boy, and for my own life. I have lived only to protect my family. For years it was all I had – giving as much of myself as I could so my babies survived. Somehow the clipping, the cutting, the little root of me that was left has grown into something that has grown towards some kind of light. I am stunted and reduced, but alive and green. I still grow. I still breathe. I still live. I live. But, Adonai, living ain’t easy, but it sure beats dying.
That is both the awful thing and the wonderful thing – life goes on, even after death. There are still all tomorrow’s parties, and all tomorrow’s joys and everything growing and breathing and excreting and existing. The world doesn’t end after death, even if it sometimes feels as if it should. Even if it feels, on a personal level, as if it had.
May we all live to see tomorrow to kvetch about another day.