The children weep openly

Look around. The families are different. Your family is different.

My family is different.

Some sons walk around with ghosts in their eyes now. Some daughters know more than their generous spirits can handle.

The children weep openly at this Memorial Day ceremony.

(Memorializing what? Yesterday’s names?)

My family is different. Yours is too. Look close.

My husband has styled himself a protector – of us, of anyone around – weaponizing the depth of his sense of duty, of responsibility. Something he’s always had, but like many of us, has uncovered in a new and serious format.

My son sings Hatikvah louder, while admiring the Navy man next to him. He’s taken on more because he’s no stranger to what’s coming. Body, mind, collective sense of societal belonging. It’s not even indoctrination anymore. It’s experience.

One daughter discusses the dead as if she’s wrapping the most delicate pottery in tissue paper. Each name treated as a special package – fragile, hold upward. An endless well of a strong hug or a warm tear – she would share these with anyone who passes.

Another daughter is suddenly sharp in her recognition of the weight of the words around her. Words that are not just words; we all know them, she discovers; her eyes light up as she faces the stage where town locals she’s never met are singing the very words she’s rehearsed inside her classroom for the last week.

My final daughter – who might very well in her young memory have no context for what we think of as ‘normal’ – is navigating her place in this serious moment, constantly, with movement, with questions, with the most expressive eyes. (She casually asks me if there will be ‘cops’ at the ceremony tonight.)

“What are the flags for,” she asks recently on a drive through town.

“Yom Haatzmaut, when we won the war for Israel.”

She lights up in the backseat. “We won the war?! Hamas is dead?!”

“Oh…” My heart sinks. “It was a different war… Hamas didn’t even exist yet. There have been many.”

I watch her in the rear-view, continuing to watch the flags pass by, endless streams of plastic symbols waving.

And me?

Part of me is an opened vessel, ready to absorb the discarding of innocence; someone has to remember what it was like, what it could have been like. Someone has to remind them as they grit their way through a very ugly world.

Part of me is ready to do what it takes. I never intended to be a mother in arms, but here we are.

And part of me is broken, the way we all are; children heal faster, their scars will be lighter than ours. What does that leave us adults?

How twisted will we end up?

I would absorb it all if it mean the children could weep openly and then move on.





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