Jennifer Isackov

After 7.10

After October 7th:

I watch my children play hide and go seek: The older ones run to their favorite spots, behind the door or under the stairwell, while my youngest laughs hysterically wrapped as a burrito in a fleece blanket. I wonder if I should teach them how to hide better.

My husband and I discuss whether to put a lock on the inside of our bomb shelter, should we need to lock ourselves in, even though they are built so rescue services can always get us out.

I wonder how fast I can get everyone into our car and drive while rockets are pummeling us in every direction, and I wonder where I would drive to.

I pick my daughter up from school early, on the first day everyone is back at school, because she is suddenly sick. Annoyance quickly changes to gratitude­: there are many parents who do not know the whereabouts of their children, let alone if they are sick.

I reassure my children that monsters are not real even though I am now certain that they are very real.

On Friday evening, I walk with my family and accidently find myself in the middle of a long shabbat table, with wine and candles, and 240 empty chairs and high- chairs, each with a picture of a hostage. My eight- year daughter is reading the signs and taking it all in.

I debate how much to tell her.

I find myself reading about barbaric acts of rape even though I have warned everyone not to do so, and now I can’t stop repeating the images in my mind.

And my consistent answer for “how are you” is “you know, like everyone else”.

I don’t know anyone captive in Gaza and I am not related in any way to their families, but my stomach has been in knots since the ceasefire agreement: I check the news constantly for photos of reunited families so that pent up stress can give way to tears of relief.

I walk my daughter home from an afterschool activity, and she hears an ambulance and gets annoyed that the ambulance siren sounds very similar to an air raid siren and asks why it can’t make different sounds that are less scary.

I take my kids out to the desert, hoping that the sand and rock can erode weeks of grief and despair, and where cold water left from flash floods can wake me up to a new reality.

And while driving home I cry because life has become way too intense.

I am forty today.

And all I want for my birthday is for the hostages to come home and to always know, until the day that I die, where my children are sleeping at night.

About the Author
Moved from Canada to Beer Sheva in 2006 to study my MSW at Ben Gurion and have been living in Beer Sheva ever since- now with my husband and three children. I work as a social worker at Women's Spirit.
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