An old and a new UNKNOWN

my temporary focus
my temporary focus

We’re still allowed to take a walk.

I’m waiting to find out. Perhaps in another week or two that might not be possible. For now, I can drive to the supermarket and buy whatever fruits or vegetables I might need for the next few days.

I also work in that same supermarket a few days a week, and I try my best to keep my distance from others. That is not an easy accomplishment.

Forty-six and a half years ago I waited to find out. My hands were shaking so badly that I couldn’t hold the pen steady. I was writing a small note on a postcard. I wrote that I was fine. It was the second day of the Yom Kippur War and I really didn’t know if I was fine. I had no idea if I would be fine. Or even alive.

I kind of suspect that at the end of all of my service, mandatory and reserve, I’m really not that fine at all. But, like so many others who have had similar experiences, combat veterans, I’m sure that we manage to get through it all. On a daily basis.

So, now that I’m confined, along with millions and millions of fellow human beings, I’m waiting to find out.

Will I live? I don’t really have that much time left to be honest. I mean, after fifty, it’s kind of a negative countdown. And, I’m way beyond fifty. Will I live to see the age my father did when he died?

Will I manage to live well? I’m not living on coffee and ration biscuits any more, as I did back in ’73. I have a very comfortable life, but as I watch all of my hard-earned retirement funds get flushed down the drain with the ever falling market indices, I might have to change my résumé.

And what about my wife, who is a realtor, and lives on an income based on commission? Both of our gyms are closed, so that we need to find some way of exercising at home. Mind you, working at the supermarket is a good way to stay in shape, but it’s not a gym.

We used to go for long runs in the military. During our lives as reservists, it was up to us to stay in shape, and we could, because we were young. Our dentist and some of our other medical practitioners have told us that we can visit them “Virtually” online.

Our children, young adults with busy lives and children of their own, are also shut in their homes. School is closed and classes are conducted remotely, online, with a lot of homeschooling and home activities and staying at home and wondering, what will happen?

When, on October 6th 1973, Syria and Egypt attacked Israel, on Yom Kippur, it became, for me, they attacked US. They attacked my brothers-in-arms, my friends, those I would give my life for. We had no idea who would live, and we didn’t know if any of us would be around to tell the stories. Uzi, Nachshon, Amir, Dudu, Moshe, Avinoam and Daniel are not here anymore, but I am here to tell some of their stories.

Will some of us still be here after this pandemic ends to tell the stories of those we lived with, and loved, and worked with, and cared for? I’m waiting to find out.

It’s really the “not knowing”, isn’t it. That gnawing unease in the gut, probably there in our collective DNA since the beginning of time, making us uneasy about something no one has ever dealt with before.

I had never heard the scream of an incoming artillery shell before. I found out very fast, keep my head buried in the dirt until all the noise died down. Lie flat, keep low, aim well, breathe. Be alert, stay awake, who is that walking towards us in the distance?

Who now is carrying the virus, yet shows no symptoms? While I’m putting tomatoes and onions on the shelf, who just sneezed? Who coughed? Will I bring it home? Breathe.

I can only hope that most of us, our loved ones, our friends, our colleagues, those who care for us, our first responders and our medical professionals, will remain healthy and safe. I can only hope that, as we used to say back when, “This too will pass…”

About the Author
Born in Israel, Yuval emigrated as a baby to Austria and then Canada. He returned to live in Israel in '71 until '91. His military service was in Golani Brigade's 13th Battalion (including Yom Kippur War) with reserve duty as a tank commander and later a liaison officer in the IDF Liaison Unit. He now resides in Pennsylvania, USA.