HaDassah Sabo Milner

I am not OK

“How are you?” Pre-war me would have had something sassy to say. But now Israel is at war, and sassy me doesn’t exist.

How am I?

Dear friend, nice of you to check in with me. I am not OK. I’m a mess. Not sleeping, not eating much, crying and crying. Obviously there was no focusing at work last week – and this week looks to be a lot similar. I am sure you can relate. I am trying so hard to distract myself – but it’s nigh on impossible. I am not OK.

The horrifying events of last Shabbat, the extent still unknown, the death toll, the injured healing or dying, and the hostages still captive –  time will eventually move us on in some sort of way. We’ve got through these types of things before – but they have been on a much smaller scale, making it easier to muddle through until you can function again. I don’t know if anyone will ever be the same again. I know I won’t. I am not OK.

Dear friend, I want you to know that I am sitting here deliberately ignorant. I cannot read the news or doomscroll the social media because I’m so mentally fragile that it might break me. Yet, everything slowly filters through and breaks my already ravaged heart. I am not OK.

Being 6000 miles away in New York and having sons on the frontlines, along with other relatives (one exactly my age) my anxiety just cannot calm down. It’s war and my babies are fighting it. And I am scared they won’t come home. As soon as I heard the news on that Shabbat I knew my kids would be immediately called to milium (reserve duty). Nobody had to tell me. It was a simple fact. And thus worry bloomed. Dear friend, you knew them as little kids when they played “war” in the backyard, improvising weapons because meanie Ima wouldn’t let them play EVER with real toy weapons. I am not OK.

The boys checked in today directly/indirectly – who cares? Someone in the family heard from them. Their lighthearted “alive and kicking” texts have become more sober as the war became more real. Now when they have 5 seconds with their phone they dash off a quick “I love you”. That simple phrase reads differently when it’s sent from war. I am not OK.

Dear friend, there is so much stuff that they need and I can’t get it to them. I can’t just put the base address in my GPS and drive there with boxes of food and items requested. I cannot hold them in my arms and kiss their hairy faces and promise them it will be ok. I cannot take away their fear.  I CAN’T DO ANYTHING TO HELP THEM FROM HERE. Yes, I can contribute to charities and pack stuff up for the soldiers, but I’m paralyzed. Our children are going to war, children no more. Mine are MEN, real men deployed to save our country. And I am sitting on my sofa in middle-class America, paralyzed by grief and fear. I am not OK.

You know that this is why my boys made aliyah – to serve their country and if necessary to fight for our land with their own lives at risk. And while I am still so very proud, my heart is so heavy with the grief every Israeli and most Jews are feeling. I am not OK.

Every text or phone call – my heart plummets into my stomach with an omg-what-if – before I look or answer. I am sure every parent of every soldier is the same, no matter where they are located. I am not OK.

I know by now the army has sorted out most of its logistics issues getting stuff to bases etc. But hearing hungry, tired, cold, scared, under-equipped – it hurts. My worrying won’t help. Knowing they may not all be at actual bases also doesn’t help, but how can a mom not worry?? The youngest said I worry enough for everyone so no one else has to. I am not OK.

We’re living on a knife edge, on a wobbly stone on top of a precipice above a canyon. This is a continuing trauma and I need to be able to live my life. Do my job. Be a wife, mother, friend. I know it’s too soon to expect anything from myself. I need to grieve the tragic losses. I have to allow myself to worry every second of this war until they all come home safely – and that makes perfect sense. This war is not going to end swiftly.  I cannot continue in this state of hyperarousal fight/flight mode – it’s so draining. But how can I continue with real life when much of real life here is so unimportant when compared to one’s kin fighting for our country? I am not OK.

Dear friend, while my upcoming trip is obviously canceled and I don’t know when (or if) I will see my boys again, I feel the need to justify not running to Israel in her hour of need. Me being there will add extra worry to my soldiers  – and they have to just focus on the task at hand – winning this war. I am doing everything in my power to stay strong for the boys so when that rare thing happens and they actually call, I can imbue them with my strength from here, I can show them that I am fine and there is no need to worry. I can listen and just bask in the sound of my son’s voice. I am not OK.

Dear friend, there’s so much we want to do for Israel and for our soldiers, and for the families that have been torn apart. But it will never be enough. Nothing can fix what happened. Winning the war will put Hamas down, but the harm is already done. I am not OK.

Dear friend, I pray daily for my boys. And I pray daily for all of the other soldiers, that they should all be under God’s protection and he should bring victory against our enemies swiftly. The whole world, in many religions, is praying for them.  I am not OK.

So that’s how I am. I am not OK.

About the Author
HaDassah Sabo Milner is a Welsh Jew who lives in Monsey NY. She is a writer and a blogger and a lifelong foodie, and works in the local court's system. She's married with four sons who provide her with much fodder for her writing projects. HaDassah's oldest son made aliyah in Aug 2013, and her second son joined him in July 2014. Son #3 made Aliyah in August 2016 .Son #4 is a volunteer EMT and an entrepreneur and has no plans currently for aliyah.
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