Chaya Lester

May this letter never be sent…

AI image by Chaya Lester
AI image by Chaya Lester
There’s a tradition in army families. Before soldiers set out to service they leave a letter. A just-in-case letter. Well, we are all suddenly like soldiers here; raising our kids in a G-d-contained war-zone. As the bad news accumulates on the borders and terrorists could slip out from behind any corner…it is clear that Israel is the front line of a global battle for decency and light.
And so I step outside my door daily suited up with a very real sense that I am a foot soldier here. Aspiring to service, sometimes scared witless, embarrassed to admit it, but here it is. Because I must admit it. To myself. I must take this reality seriously. Being the light does not mean taking things lightly.
And so I had penned this letter to my children. My own just-in-case insurance plan. May it never need to be sent…
To my child ~
Just-in-case. I want you to know.
I am not a body with a soul but a soul with a body.
And if this body should break, my soul will still be whole.
Will still behold
your shining face.
If by some twist of fate I don’t come home today…
Just imagine that I have caught a ride on the train
of your breath and slipped inside of your very chest.
There I sit – like a night-light in the hallway
of your heart. Vigilant & warm.
Hear me whisper from the insides – from your own bones
from your own worn-ragged-with-mourning soul:
I believe in you. I believe you can handle this.
We can handle this.
And I say WE because we are still
– irrevocably – a WE.
Still a family.
I am still shushing you to sleep – still smiling wide over your drawings, your learning, your yearnings, your grief.
And I hope you know it was worth it.
Because I signed on for this service
with all my soul – a long time ago.
To live in this Land,
like a great big grand red-balloon of a dream.
Un’pop’able. Unstoppable. Improbable.
And finally yearned into being beneath our feet.
You too, dear children, are her foot souldiers now.
You are made stronger by living in this
shimmering haven of a battleground.
So please, help me shlep the impossible brightness of my love
into even the darkest crevices of your pain.
Please take heart in the holy upholding
of the One and Only thing worth fighting for
worth dying for.
— Goodness.
Goodness. In the face of ISIS.
Goodness. In the face of terrorists.
Goodness is our heritage.
Now, being good doesn’t mean you can’t be mad.
Be mad. Mad at me. At God. At ‘them’.
Be wet and sink deep.
Be a tidal wave of mean if you need to be.
Scream and kick and let fall a hundred thousand tears of futility.
Because it’s okay. You’re okay. The world’s okay.
You will continue and you will find meaning
in this strange spinning mystery.
You will slay a thousand dragons of grief, disbelief and rage.
So here is my insurance letter to you.
That you should have an inheritance of this truth
– stored away to read on the cold, the rainy, the impossible, days.
You are the darling child of God,
the einekel of Jewish history,
full of miracles and moral principle.
Please hear me whisper
from inside your own knowing soul:
What has been given is a gift.
What has been taken is a gift.
You are gifted. You will grow – even from this.
You will flourish – regardless – and because of – this.
These words
my last
Please friends, if you feel moved, pause a minute from your day and jot out your own just-in-case letter to the ones you love. Imagine it like an insurance policy. The kind of thing you buy with a prayer to never use.
It doesn’t have to be poetic or perfect…Just you.
– With a prayer that even our worst fears help us live more deeply & love more fiercely.
About the Author
Psychotherapist, inspirational speaker, wordsmith, performance artist & Co-Director of Jerusalem's Shalev Center. Chaya lives in the heart of Jerusalem with her husband R'Hillel & their 4 energetic children. Read more pieces like this in real-life book form:
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