We don’t spend enough time in our lives being grateful for the blessings that are ours. Sometimes, I begin to list them in my head, but stop, afraid that I might forget something or someone. Sometimes, I stop because I’m afraid to remind God how much He has given me, that He might think it is more than I deserve. When was the last time you just stopped in the middle of your day to make that list?
If you do it right, I think, it is a very personalized and personal list, so I won’t write mine here – at least not all of it. But this morning, as I spoke to my youngest daughter, trying to move her along the amazing journey she takes each day getting ready for school, I listened to her chatter about the bat mitzvah party she went to yesterday, the choice she had between the party and going to the neighbors to play with their two small sons, as she loves to do.
She spoke of her new nephew and asked if I had a chance to hold him yesterday and told me about what she wants to buy her best friend for her birthday (in months and months from now). Suddenly, in the middle of one sentence, she started another, “Ima, I found a bullet in my room.”
“No problem,” I told her calmly, “put it on my bed and I’ll give it to Elie or Shmulik later.”
I chose not to react to the strangeness of the comment she made because I realized immediately that it wasn’t a strange occurrence. Her room was once Elie’s and she inherited his wardrobe closet. Too bulky to move, Aliza now uses Elie’s four-door standing closet; Elie now has Shmulik’s old room and closet, and Shmulik got another one for himself when he married.
Elie moved in a hurry; left some of his army “stuff” in the top of the closet and apparently…a bullet somewhere.
It really was a simple part of a conversation, which continued with her asking if she could go visit her sister and nephew after school. “Call Amira,” I told her, “and then let me know.” We discussed whether her sister, a new mother, would be sleeping still and when was a good time to call. Off to school for another day – all normal. All well. All…quite strange, if you think about it.
I went to my office and remembered those words, “I found a bullet in my room.” That can’t be considered normal by most people, can it? Have you ever found a bullet in your bedroom? I can’t honestly say whether I’d even ever seen a bullet until I came to Israel, at least not up close.
And finally, to add to the weirdness of the day, Israel ran a nationwide exercise today. We simulated a massive attack on our country, hundreds of dead. Sirens wailed across the entire country at 11:00 a.m. for those at work and school. The goal was to get all school children to safety within 2 minutes – the time it would take a missile to strike many areas. The goal was for everyone to identify what they would do in a real emergency and understand how long it would take to get to safety.
Citizens were told to remain in these sheltered places for 10 minutes, but few did. It was enough for many to point and say, “I’d go there.” Residents were told that if there were a real emergency, a second siren would sound. What a concept – it isn’t enough that we are running this exercise to simulate an attack on all of Israel, now we have to not only imagine if it were real, we have to be warned what to do if it is.
So the first siren sounded. And then, a malfunction in, of all places – Beersheva, Ashkelon and Ashdod – a second siren did sound and people thought it was real, as they were supposed to, and were terrified, as no one intended them to be.
I warned Aliza this morning. I wasn’t sure if the school would warn them that it was an exercise or not and I didn’t want to take a chance. She’s had enough fright for a while; she doesn’t need more. She is still sleeping with her windows closed, even in the hot summer. Friday nights are the worst for her. She still sleeps with a nightlight – she is afraid of the complete darkness. She still doesn’t want to be alone in the house – being alone is scary too.
Nothing has happened in our neighborhood, and yet she remains afraid. She found a bullet in her room today – that, she took in style with a laugh and wonder.
Meanwhile, Elie was back in the Reserves today; Shmulik back on base. Chaim flew to America to be with his family for the summer and Yaakov has been blessed with another baby girl!
Life, it seems, is often as normal as you accept it to be. So, if you want to be more happy than sad, more filled with wonder than anger, you accept the sirens – even the mistaken one, you buy your daughter a nightlight when she needs it, close the windows when she insists. You laugh about a bullet and, at the best of times, you smile in wonder at the many joys that God brings your way.
Mazel tov to Yaakov and Shoshana and their new little one; to Chaim on his new niece; to their mother, who is like a sister in a distant land.
And to the many teams all over Israel who worked hard today to simulate the unthinkable – thank you for your dedication, your caring, your service. We all felt safer today, knowing you were training.
And to Elie out somewhere in the desert tonight – stay safe and wear earplugs!
And to Shmulik – stay safe and yeah, you can borrow the car tonight. I love you all! We don’t spend enough time in our lives being grateful for the blessings that are ours, but I’m trying!