On Wednesday, we shall be standing at the military cemetery in Kiryat Shaul along with tens of thousands of other people. We shall answer “amen” to the Kadish prayer and shudder as the honor guard fires.
Mostly, we shall be looking around at all the people; so many people, everywhere you look. The people who came to remember, and to remind us.
Amidst this huge, sad crowd, there will always be the parents and relatives, who also lost their own lives when army representatives knocked at their doors. The lives of these family members have been split to “before” and “after” – before that knock, and after.
Nothing is like what it used to be “before.” Not sleep, which is constantly interrupted at night, not the involuntary awakening in the morning, not the thoughts, the ruminations, and the memories.
Suddenly, every one of his smiles as a baby turns into a story and every trip turns into a legend. Each statement uttered and each gesture made, the days of kindergarten and school, boy scouts and high school, all turn into stories and memories.
The photo albums have been removed from the drawers and from the closets, and each photograph turns at once into a memory. Now, we are sorry that we did not take even more pictures. This is what’s left now.
The parents who died with their children are also left behind. That is, these parents are still breathing and eating and moving, yet this is no longer them. Then there are also the wives, and children and girls – every soldier on the street and on television reminds them of the fallen, and the taste of life becomes sour and bitter.
There are also the pillows at night. These are the only witnesses to the torn hearts, to the memories that have no beginning and no end, and to the children who have now remained, in black and white, on the wall and in the clothes lying in the closet. That’s it. It’s over.