Nathalie Cohen-Sheffer

My First Memory

First memories
First memories

Memory. It’s a pretty funny thing. Mostly due to the fact that it is so selective at times. 

I have no idea what took place in my life before my first memory. I could have been raised by wolves for all I know, but the truth is something fundamental in me somehow recalls that I wasn’t. I somehow just know that I got the hugs and kisses and snuggles I needed to turn into the mostly/often/usually mentally-healthy person I am today. 

I can only wonder what my daughter, Libby’s, first memory will be. Will she completely forget the fact that I took care of her at home for two whole years and that we stayed glued to one another that entire time? I have a feeling that even though she won’t remember the strawberry picking, the pools we went to, the waterfalls we visited, or even her birthdays at that tender age, something will probably stick and I’m hoping it’s the knowledge that I’m always there by her side. Knock on wood. 

But when will that specific event in her life take place and be so unforgettable or remarkable that it will become what she will later recount as her first memory? How does one single event or situation make such an ever-lasting impression on you that you can’t seem to let it go years later? 

I am glad Libby isn’t three yet. They say that you can retrieve your first memory at the age of three or four. There are some things, however, that it’s best to forget. 

She is asleep now in what we fondly term “Momi’s room,” named after our Xiaomi vacuum robot. It also happens to be our safe room. We moved her bed into the room last night after the first two sirens went off. A third was heard around 3 AM at which point I decided to stay in the room with her. Little did I know that the booming sounds I kept hearing all night were coming from the nearby Arab village in which celebratory fireworks were shot to the sky in honor of the terrorist actions Hamas took against Israel. 

COVID is still here, particularly in the majority of the world and we are among the lucky ones to have gotten immunized. And all I can help but wonder is why didn’t some of these terrorists disappear during the pandemic…and why couldn’t they have bombed us when we were already at home during all the tedious lockdowns. I mean, if you’re planning on bombing someone, at least do it when there’s no kindergarten or school, right? 

First memories. I wonder what the first one for a terrorist throwing rocks and bombs is. 

Embed from Getty Images

Mine was definitely one to remember. 

It was during the winter of 1991. My brother, David, was about to celebrate his Bar Mitzvah and my parents’ family came from the US, Canada and France. They were in for one hell of a ride orchestrated by Sadam Hussein as part of the Gulf War. Me watching my parents and siblings wearing gas masks while I sat with my dolls in a sealed, rectangular see-through protective box-like shield was the most surreal feeling in the world. I even remember my mom put up a curtain with a bucket behind it for them to relieve themselves if necessary. 

This memory is so much more than just a memory. It’s the quintessential feeling of what it means to be an Israeli. Right now, I can’t help but think about all the first memories some unfortunate kids down south in the Gaza Strip settlements are making while they sit shaking in their safe rooms (if they’re lucky enough to be in one). 

It’s interesting how we make memories. I know that mine holding Libby at the bottom of the steps of our rented Ramat Gan apartment one night two years ago and crying together with her because I was absolutely terrified will live with me forever. Two years later and we are in the same situation only now we are lucky enough to have our own safe room. I know that if one memory sticks with me from last night’s bombings it will be of me pressing a sleeping Libby against my chest and lying back on the bed while my husband, Refael, puts his weight behind me to support us both. It will be of me listening to the sirens and singing in my head the song we just sang on Passover’s Leil Haseder: “In every generation they stand up against us to destroy us. But the Holy One, Blessed be He, redeems us from their hands.”

*Written in 2021 and still relevant. 

About the Author
I've been writing since I can remember in both my native tongues, English and Hebrew. After graduating with honors from TAU having studied English Literature, Theater and Art Theory as well as receiving an MFA in Script Writing my next step was to delve into the writing world. Since then, I've had over 2,000 articles published online and have worked as a freelancer or a full-time employee with leading companies, including Mako, Saloona, Onlife,, Viber, Crazy Labs, Biogal, Yehoshua TBWA, Cellosite, SysAid, and more.
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