John Brody

I Can’t Close My Eyes

I’m sitting here in front of the computer screen, thinking of what to write, wanting to say something about the Titan that was Elie Wiesel but finding that it has already been expressed a hundred times a hundredfold better than I ever could.

I’m staring at the screen and realize the real reason why I’m here; I can’t close my eyes.

I realize that one of the worlds greatest icons and authors has passed on today, that the world is now a lesser place in his absence and all I can think about is the fact that I can’t close my eyes.

It all started innocently enough, with me, scrolling through Facebook and coming across a photo of some smiling kid.
Over and over again.
I try and push it out of my mind but deep down, there is the beginning of dread forming.

I know what this proliferation of photos means. I’ve seen this before, When it was the Fogels, Naftali Frenkel and his Friends, Ezra Schwartz.

I know why I keep seeing this little girl and it frightens me. I want to stop, log off, I don’t want to know her name, but I keep going.

I find it, what I’ve been both looking for and fearing this entire time, the story.

I read it.

I now know her name, Harel Ariel. 13 years old.

She was just a kid…

I know it shouldn’t get to me so much. I mean I know that that’s a horrible thing to say but I should be used to it by now shouldn’t I? I mean, I grew up in Israel, I’ve seen this before.

It bothers me all day and when I make it dinner somehow comes out well but I have no appetite and the salmon has no taste, all I can think about is the fact that there’s a little girl who was killed.

That night I lie awake, I can’t sleep, I keep closing my eyes, seeing that photo of a smiling kid and my eyes pop awake again.

Saturday comes and I look at the paper on the coffee table. Traditionally Saturday is when I read the paper..  not this week, I can’t even make myself turn the paper over to see the headlines.

I don’t sleep that night, nor the next, every time my eyes close I see that smile and realize that there is no more smile, that smile and the young girl who wore it are now gone.

I didn’t know her, had no relations in common but it’s her smile that is keeping me awake.

I’m exhausted at this point, barely thinking, I know more horror has occurred but all I can think about is that smile, that it’s gone and I forget to care about anything else.

Time has passed, it’s a new week, new tragedies but I’m still mourning, mourning a little girl who I never knew, with her I mourn the lives of so many others taken by terrorism.

It’s so many. Too many. There shouldn’t be any.

That’s what it means to be a Jew I suppose, to be part of a family of millions, hurting for each one of them, that is my birthright, that is my burden, I should accept that.

But right now I just can’t close my eyes.

About the Author
John Brody is an avid amateur historian based in central Israel. He is deeply interested in history, both Jewish history and World history, literature, theology, and political science.
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