When the Heart Flutters

What a silly word…flutter.

I assume all mothers (and likely fathers) and, well, probably wives and husbands and…so let me start again.

If you love someone, the deeply and forever kind of love, be it for a husband or a wife, a child, parents, friends, significant others, whatever, you’ve probably experienced that heart-stopping moment before clarity comes into play. The bottom line is that God seems to have designed us in such a way that our heart can react more quickly than the brain. The brain can catch up quickly, explaining to the heart all the reasons why that flutter was so wrong, so silly.

The brain has always, throughout history, thought itself superior to the heart. It carries our memories, our intellect, our ability to control our environment, our feelings, etc. Given enough time, I believe the brain can talk the heart into anything but it will never, not since the dawn of time and not to the very end of days, ever be able to react faster.

That instant will always belong to the heart.

Yesterday, my heart stopped. Perhaps that silly word “flutter” is a better term. My heart fluttered and then my brain in a rather condescending way, pointed out all the reasons why my heart need not have bothered. “Email? Seriously?” my brain said to my heart. “And it’s in English!”

Alas, my brain was correct so my heart just smiled and didn’t try to explain. You see, as smart as the brain is, it will never understand the heart of a mother. So – where did all this come from?

I got an email yesterday from “SHMUEL” – that’s Shmulik’s actual name – Samuel in English, Shmuel in Hebrew, and Shmulik as the popular Israeli name for it. I was seeing the email on my phone and only read the first part of the subject line (the rest was cut of by the limited screen space on the phone). It said, “I SHOT A” – and that’s when my heart fluttered. Oh God, what/who did he shoot???

He was, at the time I received the email, working as a security guard for an event’s hall nearby. I was sitting in a synagogue waiting for a memorial gathering to begin. A year ago, a beautiful young man named Yoni went swimming with his friends. He is…he was…about a year  older than Elie, from what I can calculate and served in the army, wearing the same turquoise blue beret that Elie wore.

That year’s difference and perhaps his entering the army at a younger age (at 18 and not 19+) was enough that Yoni fought in the Second Lebanon War. He survived the war and went to college, to learn. He was much loved – and when he and his friends went swimming in the beautiful Mediterranean Sea, Yoni didn’t hesitate to swim out farther to save a friend in trouble. He managed to help the friend back to shore, but as others ran to help pull the friend to safety, no one noticed Yoni slip back into the water.

So I sat there, waiting to listen as they spoke of him, watching his parents remember with joy despite the pain, as they greeted others in the moments before the memorial began. I checked my email, had that heart flutter.

And even as I quickly opened the email and read it was from a videographer who “shot” something or other, my brain smirked just a bit. It’s in ENGLISH. Shmulik writes to me in Hebrew. Shmulik sends SMS messages, not emails! And why, if he had really shot someone, would he be writing to me at all. If he needed to contact me, he would have called me.

It was a stupid jump of thought – not even logic, concluded my brain. And amazingly enough, my heart took all of this patronizing, condescending “attitude” with amazing grace because that’s what hearts are supposed to do when you love someone. They’re supposed to stop, to flutter, to jump to conclusions and be scared for that split second before the brain comes in with reason.

Shmulik didn’t shoot anyone yesterday. He worked a long day and then went home to his wife. He stopped by this morning asking if he could take the car and telling me that they’ll be joining us for lunch on Shabbat before going off to work again today.

My heart and brain have made amends – after all, what choice do they have? They’ll get along until the next time the heart jumps and the brain reasons. As for the rest of me – a cooking I will go.

Shabbat shalom – may it come in peace and may the memory of Yoni Lurie forever be blessed. May he look down upon us know that he is missed, even by those who never had the chance to meet him.

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