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Terror VIPs get the best parking at Yom HaZikaron memorials

When terrorists murder your mother, your loss is suddenly part of the national story, while you just wish you still parked far away
The Terror VIPS - Adena Mark Kapon
A Terror VIP. (courtesy)

Every year, we receive a lovely note with a rose a few days prior to Yom HaZikaron (Memorial Day) hand-delivered by the local youth movement of our municipality.

We also get reserved front-row seats in the auditorium for the annual municipal memorial ceremony, and an entry/parking sticker for the annual district memorial ceremony at the cemetery.

My family jokingly says we are the “Terror VIPs.”

After all, only a select few get prime seating and parking at the most popular and sold-out events of the year.

Another perk of being a “Terror VIP” is that whenever I hear about a terror attack, I experience physical PTSD symptoms: a hardening, tingling, feeling in my arms, fingers, legs, and toes.

The first time it happened was 22 years ago when I was told that my mother was killed by terrorists in a drive-by shooting.

At first, I fainted, then when I woke, my arms, fingers, feet, and toes became cold, stiff, and crooked, and it lasted for hours a day for a few weeks.

Don’t worry, with time and therapy, it has improved. It’s no longer accompanied by hyperventilation or an anxiety attack that lasts a few days.

There are other unique perks “gifted” to “Terror VIPs”:

A terror VIP is concerned about who took the personal items and ID from the car at the scene of the attack.

A terror VIP remembers the reactions around them ranging from wails of agony to silent nods.

A terror VIP knows that the person who told them will forever have a special place in their heart.

A terror VIP knows they will likely never forget what they were wearing when they were told, and will likely never want to wear it again.

A terror VIP knows that for a few weeks, they’ll need people to remind them to shower, eat, and drink.

A terror VIP knows that there’s almost no greater pain than getting home and facing the laundry basket, with clothing that only hours earlier touched her skin and still holds her scent.

A terror VIP knows that you never ever want to throw away her hairbrush, her toothbrush, or the last cup she used.  Then one day when you do, it’s heart-wrenching.

A terror VIP knows the feeling of her breast milk drying up and the sound of her baby’s hungry cries.

A terror VIP knows you need a friend to help choose which shirt is the best to rip at the funeral.

A terror VIP knows that people keep insisting that you drink, even when you aren’t thirsty.

A terror VIP knows the medic at the funeral will refuse to let you go to the bathroom alone so you compromise and leave the door unlocked.

A terror VIP knows that when telling your young kids what happened, their response may be “Can we go back outside to play now?” and you’ll say yes.

A terror VIP knows there was a doctor standing by when they informed your grandmother that her daughter was killed.

A terror VIP knows it’s petrifying to sleep alone the first night.

A terror VIP knows that there’s a blissful second when you first wake up that you forget what happened — and then when you remember, it’s more crushing than hearing it for the first time.

A terror VIP knows that it’s kind of infuriating when the media gets personal details wrong.

A terror VIP remembers when in an instant they went from being an ordinary family unit to a traumatized mess, shattered into pieces.

A terror VIP witnesses her sister’s sweet, pure 13-year-old friends do everything to be strong and supportive of their friend who just buried her mother.

A terror VIP knows that the morning after your throat hurts and you don’t know why until someone tells you how much you screamed.

A terror VIP knows that sometimes the hidden angels are people who watch your friend’s kids so that your friends can be with you.

A terror VIP knows that sometimes a stranger paying a condolence call can be the most moving, and sometimes what you need are familiar, loving faces.

A terror VIP knows how it feels to wake up one day and find your kitchen filled with groceries and your laundry is done, but you have no idea who did it.

A terror VIP knows that it’s not as exciting as it looks in the media when the politicians and military leaders pay a condolence call.

A terror VIP knows the first hours, day, week, and months, are a blur and some of it will only come back years later.

A terror VIP knows that amid the crushing and unbearable pain, we may crack a joke.

A terror VIP knows how hard it is to stay home and sit shiva when you really want to be with your brother in the hospital being treated for wounds from the attack.

A terror VIP knows the living-with-the-pain part is worse than the initial raw-pain-and-shock part.

A terror VIP knows it’s not particularly consoling when people describe her as a hero or a holy martyr.

A terror VIP knows that there is so much more you wish you had said in your eulogy.

A terror VIP knows you have millions of questions but you can’t remember to ask them because your brain is spinning.

A terror VIP knows the paralyzing feeling of not being able to get dressed, go grocery shopping, or read instructions on a bottle of medicine.

A terror VIP understands the utter confusion and a little bit of fear when government officials greet and escort you at the airport.

A terror VIP remembers the amazement at the neighborhood youth groups who took time to hang loving and supportive banners outside the home and wonder if they will ever know how damn good that made us feel.

A terror VIP knows the pity looks you get from people around town can start to get annoying…until they stop — and then you wish them back and wonder, “Hey wait, don’t you pity me anymore..?”

A terror VIP knows that just when you think you know all the details, years later someone who was at the scene of the attack will bring you new photos.

A terror VIP knows that deep down you really don’t care and don’t want to hear about which terror cell was responsible and whether they were caught or not.

A terror VIP understands that it’s incredibly touching to have a nation mourn along with you, and then realize they are mourning a symbol, but you are mourning a piece of your heart.

A terror VIP had a stranger tell you they were at the scene of the attack and can assure you “she had no idea what happened and she had no pain.”

A terror VIP knows it may take a few years to be able to see your family photos and names in the headlines without getting nauseous.

A terror VIP knows that henceforth we categorize terror attacks by “Did they see it coming?”; “Were they scared?”; “Did it hurt?”;  and “Were they alone?”

A terror VIP understands when the media censors the identity until all family is notified because you remember how long it took to get a hold of the whole family.

A terror VIP knows that you leave a small part of yourself in the previous life that ended just moments before you got the news.

A terror VIP senses when people are looking at them for strength and inspiration, even when they just want to curl up and cry.

A terror VIP is forever touched yet can never really fathom that thousands of people stood with Israeli flags on the roads leading to the cemetery and filled the cemetery grounds, as a sign of honor and unity — in the middle of the night.

A terror VIP knows it takes time to process the fact that your personal tragic loss has just become a chapter in the history of our land and our nation.

A terror VIP knows that the first time you use the special parking pass for the memorial ceremony, you really wish you could park in the farther parking area.

A terror VIP knows that the first time we sit near each other in the VIP section of the memorial service, it’s kind of awful and we don’t want to be there, but with time we find it comforting because those are the only people who really know how we feel.

A terror VIP is proof that wounds heal, scars remain forever and it will be okay.

About the Author
Adena Mark Kapon is the Founder and CEO of A to Z Events Israel, and the Founder and Editor of Israel Events Magazine. As an olah from New York to Israel, Adena has the patience and empathy to help those who may be overwhelmed by planning a destination event in a foreign country. Adena is an experienced strategy-maker, hardened negotiator, advisor, and confidant. She has the unique ability to bridge Western values with Israeli traditions and embodies everything that is expressed in each event, As a wife, mother of six, mother-in-law to three, stepmother to two, and grandmother to one, she understands the challenges and sensitivities of coordinating family at any event – particularly from abroad. And as a daughter of a terror victim, Adena believes it is a privilege to be entrusted with the responsibility of bringing milestone events to life in Israel. With her experience, industry insight, and longstanding relationships with vendors and venues throughout Israel, Adena creates memorable, one-of-a-kind events in Israel.
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