Osnat Shir-Vishinsky, 61, of Petach Tikva, is an artist, lecturer, and producer. Her son, Lior Vishinsky, was killed in an operation in Rafah, a Palestinian city in the southern Gaza Strip, on May 12, 2004.
For Memorial Day, she remembers the young man who made her a mother and how she came to terms with his death.
"I don't remember what this picture was taken for and if it was published somewhere," she says of a black-and-white photo of her younger self and her baby son. "Photographer Yoni Hamenachem offered to photograph us in the garden near the house on Zeitlin Street in Tel Aviv. I'm 22 years and eight months old, married for three years to Shlomo Vishinsky. Lior is two months old. In this picture, I see two children, full of light and innocence, with a smile that has not yet been robbed of anything. In a way, Lior and I are alike here: we're both at the beginning of our journey, amid a starting point of captivating, interesting and adventurous lives to come. I chose this picture for the commemorative album I made for Lior on the one-year anniversary of his fall in combat in the Gaza Strip.
"It came naturally to me to hold a baby in my arms and this life also came naturally. I was within some kind of bubble that characterizes the time after the birth of your first baby. Lior is so sweet in the picture, at the age of two months he would already reach for his mobile and shakes the dolls with his hand. I was a devoted mother with endless patience, I raised him with joy, with pleasure. This picture reminds me of how much my motherhood was easy. How much I felt that I had natural instincts for motherhood, and was surprised that this motherhood instinct came out of me, without ever learning how to do it. In this picture, there is motherhood that is free of guilt, frustration, longing, pain.
"Before coming face to face with death, I never had to choose life, because we are alive, all of us, we don't choose to live each day, at least most of us don't. Lior's death destroyed my life as I knew it, it made me an incomplete mother, and my smile will never radiate as it did in that picture, and neither will my eyes."
"It was a different time, prior to both of our adult lives, mine and Lior's. Before my fame, before the success, before the mistakes, the pains, the failures and the losses. Before Lior's childhood, his youth, his teenage years, his mischievous era, heartbreaks, injuries, his motorcycle, his army service. In this picture, there are curls that have never been disturbed, beautiful teeth and a smile that will become part of my identity. This girl has a curious child that is looking onward at the camera and still knows nothing. He is dependent on his parents and on their giving him tools to deal with all that this world has to offer - the good and the bad within it.
"Before coming face to face with death, I never had to choose life, because we are alive, all of us, we don't have to choose to live each day, at least most of us don't. Lior's death destroyed my life as I knew it, it made me an incomplete mother, and my smile will never radiate as it did in that picture, and neither will my eyes.
"The great joy of holding a baby in my arms exists today through Adam and Uri, my daughter Dana and her partner Daniel's children. They fill me with joy, and when I'm with them I feel that same natural feeling. There's nothing I love more than being a grandmother.
"This black-and-white picture is a bittersweet memory, and it will never symbolize a moment of joy without a bitter aftertaste. It will forever remind me how each moment, like this moment frozen in time, could have been meaningful and how much we must embrace everything we have, because we have a lot."