HULON, Israel – I am driving; the road is quiet. I turn the radio on and a familiar song is playing. He liked this song, liked it a lot… I remember that ever since he was little he liked this song; he knew all the words by heart, words I will never get to hear him say again.
Part of coping with a loss this hard, losing a son, is dealing with the title that will always float above your head, like an eternal label with the words "bereaved mother" written on it.
Today I am going to meet a woman who is going through what I am going through: the feeling, the label, and worst of all, the yearning. But I lost my son in the Israeli Defence Force and she is from Lebanon.
If I had received this request at another time, I don't really think I would have agreed. I don't think I would have understood and been aware that she is probably living, like me, under the burden of bereavement. And still, I have some misgivings about the meeting – how it would actually be to meet her, and would I be able to feel free to honestly talk heart to heart?
We agreed on the details of the meeting last Thursday. At 12:00 noon, at the Peace Park, where there used to be an IDF base on the border between Israel and Lebanon. And now we are both a few meters from the same place, where we both lost our sons – the border.
I arrive and see that she is already there. I actually expected her to look different – to be wearing religious clothes. But she is sitting there, in jeans and a T-shirt, not that much different from me.
"Hello," I say and smile at her. She smiles back.
We start talking and, surprisingly enough, the conversation is in fluent Hebrew and includes more than our common interest for which we set the meeting. We talk about everything, openly and comfortably. Our daily routine is not that different, and I actually really like her – a woman with a positive attitude, wisdom and great abilities.
When our meeting is over, we decide to stay in touch. I really hope we can do it despite the distance. And still, even if we can't, this meeting gave me a new perspective, a more open train of thought, and one insight that I will never forget – a human being is a human being. He is alive, he screams, he cries, he laughs, he loves, he gets hurt, he is a human being. It has nothing to do with gender, race or religion.
* Zohar Shechtman is a 13 year old student from Hulon. She is a member of Tzofim, the Israel Scouts. This article was written for the "Imagine 2018" essay competition (www.imagine2018.org), and is distributed by the Common Ground News Service (CGNews) in collaboration with One Voice (www.onevoicemovement.org). It can be accessed at www.commongroundnews.org.
Source: One Voice "Imagine 2018" essay competition and Common Ground News, 4 September 2008, www.commongorundnews.org.
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