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Each Name A Promise

Each Name A Promise

Thoughts from a bereaved Israeli mother.

by Martha E. Lichtenstein

Each name a promise. Each name a dream. Each name a hope. We can only bring them to life by naming them but they cannot answer our call any longer.

They are gone. Extinguished their dreams, vanished their hopes.

Death seized them at some point during the days of the conflict. Inflicted randomly by a demonic enemy that had no qualms about using civilians as human shields and blaming it on Israel.

It is easy to react with well-deserved indignation but much harder to close that immense black hole that has opened in our homes, because when one child dies, Israel mourns the loss collectively.

These are the random thoughts of a bereaved parent; the child could be yours or mine. We have been through this pain many times, the wound will always be there, deep inside.

August 2006

The dreaded call, the door that opens to an unwilling messenger of terrible news. The end of life at its peak.

The loving words, the lullabies I sang to put you to sleep, the laughter and the fights, the character that I custom made for the stories you liked me to tell you, the brave maternal smile when I sent you off with one final kiss and a 'Call us when you can!', the tears that spring up before I know it, and seemingly come from a bottomless pit of anguish, who will dry them, what will give me some peace?

Our friends call on us at all hours, we smile to make them feel better, but our heart grieves, and they know it. I am grateful for their company but I would prefer to reminisce alone, to evoke your smiling face and your wit.

Our dear rabbi tries to pronounce words of comfort but I feel sorry for him because they only make me weep. And so I, like too many Israelis, must attend to the mechanics of daily living with a heavy heart, pretending the note he sent us from the front before his tank got hit is not there, in the precise corner of my first dresser drawer, because I know that if I read it once again I will break down and our younger son is watching me, afraid and trying to cope courageously.

I am unable to abide by Camus' words ("We will forgive but not forget"). I will neither forgive the aggressors nor forget their despicable deeds.

I am not yet ready for that.

I must be strong, I must face up to the supreme challenge to go on living, with my loved one unseen by my side, in my heart, an indestructible part of my soul. If I don't the enemy wins. I will not grant them that victory, my child would not have wanted that. And I am certain that he is watching me, giving me the courage to affirm that, out of the depths, I will rise and affirm my humanity in the face of their lack of.

Today there is an empty place at the table but we will still meet again, and together we will watch the sun dispel the darkness...

An Israeli Mother

September 9, 2006

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Visitor Comments: 6

(6) sharyn spitzer, November 21, 2011 10:25 AM

When the phone rang in my office I did not know what had pain I was to share

lone soldier from Dollard des Ormeaux, Quebec was lost and then gone. We held a vigil for him infront of the Jewish Public Library in Montreal. We all visited the shiva house. And several thousand of us came to the shloshim. The tears that we shed with the parents and siblings were not enough. Everyday when I would pass their home I would be touched. And now, when I pass the place he was found I can never forget the pain and the emptiness which we still share.

(5) Maura Collins., April 23, 2007 7:46 AM

A Terrible Beauty Is Born.

So said W.B. Yeats at the birth of my own country, Ireland. But born it was for better or for worse, when it was dragged kicking and screaming into the light of day at the beginning of the 20th. Century. And in my soul it was the most beautiful sight to behold, as it is with Israel, to come out of the ashes of WW2 and rise to what it is today. None of it without cost to a mother or father in a nation that has seen such horror in their lifetime, but you will prevail, as you must, because this is your country.
My profound sympathies are for you, I cannot walk in your shoes but stand with you in the shadows as you try to live without your beloved child.

(4) Michelle, October 8, 2006 9:51 PM


I'm glad you have faith and I offer you my dearest sympathy... I truely believe you and your son will meet again in the afterlife. Keep your faith and preserve your strength and you shall grow from it. I will make sure to pray for you and your family.

(3) lynnfinson, September 14, 2006 11:24 AM

I weep as I read

Dear Israeli mother,
I weep as I read your article, I weep as I write this hoping you will see it. In an instant you put us where you are by your description. And, that is good because that is our only hope; to care so muchabout each other that we can shed oceans of tears with you. I picture your son in a place very close to G-d alongside the other brave and beautiful boys. May you and he be blessed and feel loved by the only one who can truly comfort, Hashem.

(2) serviceman, September 13, 2006 4:39 PM

A Blessing and Prayer

16 year veteran and still active. My heart goes out to you with a blessing for you and your son, and a prayer. If any consolation, I have expressed to those closest to me that if I were to pass from life while in the service, that my wish is for not a single tear shed but many smiles remembering all the good I spread during my time here. This I explain would give me the victory above and over all. I carry with me this thought each time I go out. The joys of the images in my head get me through the day, those images of smiles, love and laughter even if I were to be tragically extinguished. In the end I have won and the enemy lost. It's the good we all share that we in service defend and the memories can not be taken away.

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