I don’t know your name. In fact, we’ve probably never met. If I was asked the colour of your eyes or the sound of your laughter when you’re genuinely happy, I couldn’t tell you. But if I was asked to describe you, I would say you look like my brother. Because nothing has ever felt more personal.
Teardrops stand at attention. I would say the smallest thing calls them forth, but that would be a lie and you know it. Nothing is small these days. An empty carriage creaks eerily in a destroyed town. You’re gone, as is she, and him, and them. And that is simply too much to bear. The light of 1400 universes extinguished.
I picked pomegranates this week. The crowned fruit begs for attention at the centre of your table. And you should know, a table is set and it waits for you, empty seats beckoning your presence. The Jewish Ghetto. Tel Aviv. Bondi. Nelson Mandela Bridge releases its red balloons and I watch them float up into the summer sky, calling for your return. Yellow ribbons guide the way.
War creates us and it creates them. Fear and hate. It makes us ashamed of our thoughts, disappointed by our fears. Why did I cross the road, I find myself wondering? Or get off the bus a stop early? The danger has never felt so real. All is upside down. When did an M-16 start to comfort me? This has been the longest month and you are all so far away in this tiny place we call home. It’s hard to breathe when the sounds of war rattle above you, inside of you.
Your eyes are so familiar. I’m certain our paths have crossed. Maybe you served me hummus and called me ‘mami’ or ‘motek.’ Maybe we met on the bus and you moved your gun over so I could sit down. Or maybe you shouted at me on the bus and I wished we had never met at all. Maybe we met in basic training. Or my cousin sent a dozen thank you notes to the soldiers keeping us safe and you were the recipient; a subtle salute. And maybe it brought a smile to your face for a moment or two. The fading one I’m staring at now. Your smile is so bright. Was.
All that really matters now is that I knew you. I hope to know you; to meet you again. Each night I pray that our paths cross again at a beautifully set table, 230 chairs filled
raising their glasses to life. לחיים