Our Collective Remembrance-Day Scar

A week ago, on Remembrance Day, my Facebook news feed filled up with photos of fathers, husbands, brothers and sisters, sons and daughters, who had fallen in one of Israel’s way-too-numerous wars, training accidents or terror attacks; heart-wrenching poems, prose, thoughts. I was shocked at the number of them (they were the predominant type of post on my news feed that day, interspersed with the more prosaic, everyday posts of my friends overseas, for whom it was just a day like any other).

I am somewhat choosy about whom I connect with on Facebook, and the majority of my Facebook friends are people I actually know. But, on Remembrance Day, I realized how few I REALLY know. Yes, I had heard about some, but not about many others. People I see on the street, talk to on the phone, perhaps they attended my yoga class or studied with me at the university. But I did not know that they had lost someone in their immediate family, that a life that pulsed with their own heartbeat had been brutally cut short.

These people go about their daily lives bearing an invisible, but endlessly palpable scar. Or perhaps it is more correct to say “wound,” as it is never closed, never healed. Like the scars left after open heart surgery (and YES, this is definitely a type of open heart surgery, but with no anaesthetic) or a mastectomy, these are only exposed in intimate situations, with someone known well and trusted.

These scars mark people who are among us everywhere, always, in this country. Maybe one is sitting next to you on a bus, another yelling at you in a traffic jam, or selling you lemonade on a hot day. Everywhere. No matter how long ago it may have been, this loss is alive, constant, a background buzz, a painful presence, perpetually appearing from around a corner or in the gentle tap of a raindrop on a bare arm. Every day. But on Remembrance Day they go public, exposing their scars, bringing them forward to claim their place in our collective catastrophe, our common pain. To become owned by each one of us, rising together into the wail of the siren, their wail, our wail. The awful wail of this country’s heritage.

About the Author
Ruthi Soudack, originally from Vancouver, arrived in Jerusalem for a short visit three days after the beginning of the first intifada, and has been here ever since. She is a traveller, yoga teacher, writer, translator, editor, storyteller, musician, and occasionally, a stand-up comic. (Profile picture by Shira Aboulafia)