Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Black Coffins

Nala the puppy woke me up this morning at 5:50 am, whimpering at my bedroom door. Stepping into the kitchen of my bungalow, I was assaulted by a blur of tail, tongue, cocoa-colored fur and soft paws.

With my new Pomeranian attempting to burrow inside my nose, I opened the freezer to remove my stash of Zabar's French Italian roast.

Setting it on the counter, I glanced at the flyer posted on my fridge last summer. It announced a rally to be held on July 16th, 2007, at the United Nations.

FREE THEM NOW! the headline read, poised above the headshots of the three Israeli soldiers kidnapped during the summer of 2006 -- Gilad Shalit, Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev.

Last night, I told Little Babe that the fate of the missing soldiers would likely be revealed today. I reminded him of how we said tehillim, psalms, for them when they were taken hostage two summers ago. He, in turn, reminded me how we said the b'shaym blessing for the soldiers last summer, invoking the protection of the angels Michael, Gabriel, Raphael and Oriel as we said the shema before going to sleep.

I felt somewhat dishonest using euphemisms such as "fate," because it seemed fairly certain that Goldwasser and Regev were dead while there had been signs that Shalit was alive. And with his Israeli cousin serving in a high-ranking IDF position, I hated to remind my 13-year-old of the dangers facing Israeli soldiers, had wished for an heroic, Entebbe-like rescue for our kidnapped sons and brothers.

Today, exactly one year to the day from the NYC rally, Goldwasser and Regev have returned to Israel in coffins.

Gilad Shalit is still in captivity.

Miles away from Israel and even the United Nations, I read the news on, weeping into Nala, who licked away my tears. Little Babe slept soundly, the relaxed slumber of an American boy during summer, lucky and free. In a sort of derangement, I visited dozens of news sites, read the reportage over and over again, tormented myself with an endless replay of grief.

I stared at the terrifying black coffins until I tricked myself into seeing the image of God reflected back at me.

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