WHO HAS BROUGHT US TO THIS

Earlier today I drove down to New York. Now, this evening, I wait for a flight to Switzerland to see dear friends, spend the weekend with them, and Sunday morning take two flights to Belgrade and then Montenegro.

I’ve been urging my sister to celebrate her 70th birthday for a year, but once the Middle East war broke out, she, living in Jerusalem, grew tepid. “How can I celebrate when all this is going on?” she’d say. I pushed and pushed, and now we are supposed to meet at the airport in Montenegro on Sunday early afternoon and spend 4 days together celebrating with her. Next Thursday will be the long flight home.

It can all go south depending on the war, especially if Israel and Hezbollah ratchet things up in the north.

There’s a famous Jewish blessing that I love to invoke, pronounced at special times. Literally, it translates to this: Blessed are You, Adonai our G-d, Sovereign of all, who has kept us alive, sustained us, and brought us to this occasion. I always liked to shorten it to: Blessed are You, Sovereign of all, who has brought us to this day. And now I shorten it even further: Blessed are you, Sovereign of all, who has brought us to THIS.

THIS was with me all day: driving down to New York. Having an early dinner at a Spanish restaurant with a dear friend, who then takes me to the airport. THIS was standing on a long security line, fumbling with 30-year-old luggage, and now sitting by a window looking at airplanes pulling to the gate while sipping a glass of water.

I used to think of it as things falling into place, pieces fitting one into another, but that’s just viewing life through the lens of my own needs, schedules and arrangements. Things do fall into place, but not in any way that I understand it.

Sometimes that calls for a little patience with upset people on long lines and a backpack over the shoulder. I look forward to trying my new foot swing onboard, suspended from the fold-out table towards the floor, on which I could rest my feet. My legs are short, but in some aircraft there’s no room to stretch at all in Economy, so I bought this new travel contraption. We’ll see how it works.

The past diverts me with memories. Brother, sister and I grew up in a highly fragmented and partisan family. One was my mother’s daughter, the other my father’s, the third negotiating his way carefully in between. The divides were sharp, the conflict between parents projected onto—and then carried out by—the next generation.

It didn’t help that the three of us chose different lives, different religious traditions (or none at all), very different styles of family. I suspect we’ll have some discussions about the war in the Middle East and maybe exchange sharp remarks. Denial or staying mute is no longer an option. It is a reflection of how much we now accept each other that we can take risks, disagree bigly (I thank Donald Trump for that great word). It demanded hard work from us.

One of us eats only kosher food, but we’ll eat meals together, swim, go for walks and stand up for each other whenever necessary. This last occurred to me when my brother related that a few months ago he was in the Brussels Airport when a man, spotting his yarmulke, called him a dirty Jew. Looking forward to our trip together, I thought to myself: Just try it. Try it with me around.

I am pretty in one way, and not at all pretty when I lose my temper.

But first, a flight to Zurich and a train to Bern. So much pleasure for this homebound woman to hang out with old friends and co-workers, people who knew me with Bernie, and even just post-Bernie. Only there isn’t really post-Bernie.

I don’t know how regularly I will post over the next 8 days, if at all. At times I want to take a real break from the blog, but always there’s a drive to make sense and create meaning, and I do that by writing these posts. We will see.

Thank you very much for sending in enough money to send immigrant children to summer camp. I let Jimena Pareja know we’re sending a dozen children and I’ll give her the money upon my return. Writing and giving her the check will evoke in me the same old blessing: Blessed are You, Sovereign of all, who has brought us to THIS.

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