Never normal.

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Living here is not normal.

Life here pushes through – the normal, the stubborn, the ups, the downs – the not normal, the horror, the grief, the methods, the madness.

Life here is limbo. Life here is business as usual. Life here is waiting. Life here is death.

Life here is moving on. Life here is no tear wasted. Life here is blessing god despite death. Life here is worshipping life.

Life here, after the worst is realized, is never normal again.

Life here will live on despite that.

ברוך דיין האמת.

Fifty-Two Frames: The Golden Ratio

This was a total shot in the dark for me. Week 26’s theme – which was a big ole photographic list of concepts like ‘The Golden Ratio’ ‘Fibonacci’ and ‘The Golden Spiral’ – way too resonant of mathematics to my brain.

I was so concerned with getting the theme right, that my picture loses.

I gotta be honest. I totally did not understand the Golden Ratio. I read a handful of pages about it, looked at plenty of images, and I still don’t get it. I think I’m overthinking it. So I kinda went with some kind of idea of what I thought it might be, which I still can’t even articulate.

Week 26: The Golden Ratio

“If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first invent the universe.” – Carl Sagan

Nettles update: three months

Nettles – welcome to the end of the ‘fourth trimester’. Congrats and you may pick up your diploma at the front desk.

Here’s how you got there:

I could have three babies… thirteen babies… thirty babies… and one thing will never ever get old: The first giggle.

It started a couple weeks ago… the silent laugh. Your brother was a star at it, too. That silent laugh says so much – I’m watching you, I’m hearing you, I like it. 

Like your intense gaze, your constant eye contact, your silent laugh is so telling.

And then you giggled. Like your sister did. A geee here. A gooo there. And then you burst out, full chuckle. That’s how I know we’re going to have some serious fun, Nettles.

And it’s not all laughs… it’s also the smiles, which you are extremely generous with these days – and thankfully, since your big sister is finally getting the affection from you she’s craved after all her hugs, kisses, pats, whispers.

We had a bit of a scare back there, when we thought there was a good chance you’d be diagnosed with hip dysplasia after your first postnatal ultrasound (not every baby is that lucky, right!). After a month of waiting, it looks like you might be in the clear. Go hips!

I’ve also been running around to job interviews. I wonder if any of this professional woman energy will transfer through the breast milk. Reach for the stars, Nettles! Well, even if it doesn’t, you’ve been an excellent sport for the babysitters, so thank you,

On to… boys.

There’s something about you and the boys. Specifically five- to nine-year-old boys. There’s also something so very special about five- to nine-year-old boys. I can count on at least one hand the number of boys who have asked to hold you, have taken care of you, have melted into mush while looking at you in the last month or so.

You’re good for the boys.

Now that’s a life skill, Nettles.

What’s more complicated than kidnapped teens, baby heart surgery, and life in Israel?

Day 10.

My god. This country. What is more complicated than this goddamn country?

This is a news segment on Channel 10 [Hebrew] profiling a father of a Makor Chaim schoolmate of the two 16-year-old kidnapped boys. He is also Dr. Dudi Mishali, a 20-year Tel HaShomer baby heart surgeon. He opens the chests of infants to cure them of heart conditions.

He does this for any baby that comes through hospital doors. That includes Jewish babies, Israeli Arab babies, Palestinian Arab babies, refugee babies.

So the father of a schoolmate has to contend with the fact that he’s now operating on the 4 month old of Arab Hevron residents while his son’s schoolmates are likely being held captive – assumed alive – somewhere in the very same area.

The parents are terrified of what will be with their baby. The parents are… parents. Like Dudi. Like the three sets of parents waiting to hear the fate of their kidnapped children.

Of course he operates. Of course he goes about his business. Of course it tears him apart that this is the way he has to work right now.

Who – who – can look at a child and not save his life?

But he, and his wife, raise painful points, torturous questions.

This video is uncomfortable.

It’s kind of just life here at the worst of times.

Watch the video.

‘Who leaves their baby in a car?!’ Me.

Summer’s officially here. My news feed is filled with barbecues, splashy pools, sandy hair… sunscreen warnings, drowning warnings, leaving-babies-in-cars warnings.

It’s all scary. It’s all out there. And, as far as the last one goes, it’s all judgy. It’s all ‘how the hell does that happen?’ It’s all ‘I would never do that.’

But it happens.

I did it. I left my baby in a car.

So now I can tell you how the hell someone leaves their baby in a car.

I think if you know me you’d say I can get overwhelmed at times, I can be hectic, but on the whole I’m pretty organized. They’ll tell you the wrench that gets thrown in is really the change in routine. That’s what the articles have all said. What parents will admit. One change on an otherwise normal day, and you can get totally thrown off.

In my case, it was a day I was leaving my baby with a sitter to go on a job interview. I’d left her to go on my own a couple times before, so it wasn’t my very first time making a long trek to Jerusalem without her in the back. And when I have done it, I’ve managed to think twice at some point in the ride – is she here? Is she supposed to be? Ok. A lot of the time, she cries at some point on a ride – she doesn’t love the carseat. None of my kids have. So her cries are something I’m just used to. And though I’ve driven without her here and there, those silent drives are still jarring for me.

When she is in the car, I tend to stick my arm back to reassuringly pat her head… feel her soft hair in my fingers and remind myself where I am, where I’m going, and where she’ll be when I do that.

But for some reason, a few weeks ago, I had dropped her off, taken a silent drive into town, done my interview, kicked its ass, taken the silent drive to pick her up, and we went home together.

A few hours later, I loaded her, sleeping peacefully, back in the car for sibling pickup. Made the 4-minute drive to the first gan. Was so pumped on a great interview experience, and there was no wailing from the back – I jumped out of the car, slammed the door, greeted friends on the way in, and didn’t look back.

When I spotted my older daughter in the yard, she ran to me and I picked her up and hugged her. It felt so good! I was cuddling her when one of her ganenot started chatting with me… but I have no idea what she said. A thought had suddenly occurred to me:

Why isn’t it that I always pick her up for a hug?

My stomach completely dropped as I made the slow painful realization.

I’m usually holding a baby. 

I nodded at the ganenet to end the conversation and bent down to my older daughter: ‘I need to run and get your sister from the car; stay here, I’ll be right back.’

I dashed out from the gan and got to the parked car, where baby was sleeping as soundly as… a baby. Which is incredible because she usually doesn’t last more than a minute in the car seat when not moving.

I unlocked the car, swooped in, and took her out. It was a sunny day, a beautiful June day, a seasonable day but not anything special.

My heart was hurting.

It had been no more than 3 or 4 minutes. But I looked at my sleeping baby in my arms, and looked back at the car. It could have easily been a hotter day. It could have easily been a distraction found in one of my friends. It could have easily been a longer conversation with the teacher.

And that is how people end up leaving their babies in cars.

We’re waiting for you.

Day 7.

I believe you are alive. I believe you’ll be ok.

I hope you do, too.

We’re waiting for you.

We’re doing the age-old Israeli dance – living a disrupted, regular life.

Go to work, go to school, put the kids to bed, kiss each other goodnight. While we hope for you.

We think about you. Throughout the day. While getting dressed. On the drive to work. While mindlessly refreshing the news. While preparing dinner. While shutting down for the night.

We think about your parents. We can’t imagine, but we itch to do something that might help. We pray. We wait for updates. We hope for Tzahal.

We’re waiting for you.