Running for your life is hard to forget

4 years ago, my children and I ran for the bomb shelter; I am terrified that we may need to again

Facebook stirs my memory with a video I took four years ago, as I ran with my children to the nearest shelter. We had ventured out of the house to a carnival a teenage camp had organized for the children of the city. The kids needed to feel like it was summer, to jump and play and sing and lick sticky marshmallow fluff and shave balloons and eat popcorn and drink icy sugar and feel like they lived in a word where no one wanted to kill them.

We had so much fun letting go for a few hours of freedom. Sweaty and exhausted, we started heading home when the siren’s wail began to rise over the mountain and deep into our fears. We ran back towards the building and followed the crowds inside and down the stairs, onto the floor of the cramped shelter. I turned on my camera as we ran because I wanted my family across the ocean to understand what we were going through.

Our hearts settled down as we cautiously moved on from that summer.

My children were brave. All the children were brave. It sucked that they had to be.

Now I watch the video and my heart speeds up and my breath catches as the terror washes over me again.

I spent my weekend with my kids. On Friday, we took the bikes out to a park and played in the dirt. We watched Harry Potter and ate our Shabbat meal. We tucked the kids into bed and went to enjoy drinks with friends. We slept in the next morning. We had lunch and read books and played Catan and then we went to the park and calmly watched the kids run around in the sticky summer breeze. We spent more time with friends and came home tired and worn out, the way a nice summer weekend is meant to end.

I think about the weary mothers who spent their weekend in bomb shelters and stairwells. I feel the panic rising as my memories keep me from calling for a solidarity that can’t change the way fear washes over a person as they run for their lives. I don’t want this to be their reality. I am terrified it could be my reality again.

I am conflicted about the complicated region I live in. I sometimes feel caught between my desire for equality and my need to feel safe.

But Facebook reminded me what desperate fear smells like, how crouching low and holding on can lock your knees and twist your back, how the bitter taste of failure to keep your children safe rises in your throat and chokes you, and all I can do is squeeze my eyes tight and wish for impossible dreams to come true.

About the Author
Bracha Goldstein is a work in progress. She writes to free her soul and to share her ideas with the world.
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