The Other Isolation

After two weeks of quarantine, a first-time experience for my husband and I, of course we survived it. We were told to isolate ourselves at home for 14 days due to our travel abroad; I’ve heard that people have been through worse in their life.

There was another matter that I didn’t know how to handle. How would I survive the other isolation, the part without seeing my children?

Shortly after arriving to Ben Gurion Airport, we voluntarily filled out a form online that the government posted for everyone returning from a trip abroad. We had no qualms about doing this. It was not only following rules, it was the most logical obligation for us, and I hope for the rest that have traveled during this time of a global pandemic, in order to keep everyone in the country safe.

It’s been 2 years and 9 months since I made aliyah, I still wake up and smile, just like the day I arrived in Israel. The smile that I wear is wider. There is one gigantic reason why: 1: I live near my children. Yet, now there is sadness, this cannot be denied, all day, every day. It feels like a punishment, the other ISOLATION.

Missing the children is intense, it’s an overwhelming feeling. I want to whine about it; hope that’s allowed. I’m sure I have this in common with many people. A reality that is unacceptable. Knowing that we don’t know when we will see our children is nauseating. Confident that this will eventually pass, doesn’t diminish the profound loss of time. I can’t wrap my head around that, at all. At least if I had a day, a time frame to look forward to.

Pesach, the seder, I’m told it will be just my husband and me. I shopped. The chicken, the shank bone, I bought today. The cheesecake ingredients also in the fridge. I still believed that I would be celebrating the Hag with my children. Now the children aren’t allowed to come home and will perhaps organize a zoom seder. Who wants to have a zoom seder? This idea just magnifies the unknown, the uncertainty, for me.

Finally, today, we could venture out after the 14-day isolation; the typical errands took on a new face and a new meaning than in the past. I don’t take things for granted but; “were those flowers always there?” I asked my husband as we crossed the street, a few meters from home, toward our local fruit store and supermarket. “They smell so delicious and fresh!” I couldn’t stop staring at the colorful and most vibrant display of pansies and daises that surrounded the stairway to the market entrance. The fragrance of the flowers seemed to be like nothing I had ever had the pleasure of before. Or was it me, after being in quarantine? I always pay attention to flowers and trees and season changes, but today the air was truly delicious.

Beauty always surrounds us. I just didn’t realize how much I missed it. Still, hovering, constantly, and at the center of it all, is the longing.

Being surrounded by life, and not the alternative, I’m reminded to focus on every little drop of it. Every tweet from the birds, scent from the flowers, beam from the sunshine, all the vibrant colors in my fruits and veggies, I soak it all up, yet I am gloomy. I admit, alongside gratefulness, sits sadness. I can’t be reprogrammed, to not seeing, not facing, not kissing and hugging our children.

Israel is home, and there’s no place I’d rather be, except I need to sit under the same roof with my children, more than anything else. How could I ever convey how much I miss my children?

About the Author
Allyson Altit is from New York. She has worked in the travel industry for over 27 years as a leisure specialist. Her area of expertise is in European destinations and Israel. She has been involved with charity work for the Hadassah organization as well. In 2009 she graduated from Queens College majoring in Jewish studies.
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