At Ben Gurion, prior to departure.
I'm the woman you'll find booking it between Terminal C and the International Gates at the Philadelphia Airport with puffy red eyes and tears streaming down her face. Twice. Coming and going, I broke down, Asher happily eating cheerios and staring at the shops flying by and people asking if I'm okay, as I flew through the airport trying to make connections, barely, both times.
And after 10 days in Israel with my husband (and the difficult last-minute decision whether to possibly cancel the trip because of health issues with my father), who I hadn't seen in 2.5 months and won't see for another 2.5 or more months, after the second breakdown in the airport after leaving him at Ben Gurion and the 12-hour flight with a 1-year-old child and the never-ending customs line and having to pick up and then recheck my luggage and stand in security and have a TSA agent yell at me for throwing my shoes at her because I was frustrated that I had to completely dismantle my entire stroller unlike I had at any other airport, after it all and I was sitting back in my car in Denver heading back to our apartment where all our stuff is and where Ash immediately fell back into his circuit of toys here, toys there ... I realized how utterly broken I am.
I find myself perpetually on the verge of tears. Those moments where things are quiet and calm where my mind is relaxed I remember my reality, the reality of those around me, my family, my father, my husband. It all breaks my heart. And it's exhausting.
There's a popular joke that Jewish guilt is a special form of torture. Although I wasn't born Jewish, I was clearly born with a Jewish neshama (soul), because the moment the plane rose into the sky over Tel Aviv all I could think was, "I didn't tell him I loved him enough or hug him enough. I didn't do enough while I was there."
I also found myself walking through the Philadelphia airport today whispering to myself, "What did I do HaShem? What did I do to deserve this?"
After I got divorced (or maybe while), I read Harold Kushner's Why Bad Things Happen to Good People, and part of me is thinking I should crack that puppy back open. I remember having more clarity and understanding of the pain I was feeling and feeling better about the cause-and-affect reality of Judaism.
Without a doubt this has all been one mighty test. It will continue to be a test until we're all back together again. The verge-of-tears reality over those far away and those close by will continue, the frustrations with not having a night to myself will continue, and the pain of feeling alone, helpless, and lonely will persist.
My world is a mess. As usual. Right? Calm is not in the books for me.
Luckily, as everyone along my journey to and from Israel told me, my son is beautiful and happy, evidently I'm a natural mother, and with those things combined, I have a bit of hope that we'll survive. That I'll survive.
I just have to figure out what that means.