Rockets and Bone Marrow

This past Saturday, November 16, a little before 2 a.m., my wife, our dog, and I were roused from sleep by the blaring of a warning siren alerting us to an incoming rocket. From the time the siren is first heard, where we live, you have one minute to get to a safe place. In this instance, our safe place was our bomb shelter located just off our kitchen on the ground floor of our home. We can reach it easily within the allotted access time from any place in our house.

We have trained our dog to enter the shelter with us. My wife locked the two levers securing the shelter’s door while I patted the dog. The three of us stood there straining to hear a “boom,” indicating that Israel’s Iron Dome air defense system had shot down the rocket. In this instance, it so happens that there were two incoming rockets; both were blown up, in the air, by Iron Dome. We waited a bit longer, then exited the shelter. It was 1:59 a.m. My wife and I went back to bed; our dog went to his mat in our living room and lay down. All of us went back to sleep.

Then, I did something I’ve not done more than two or three times since my mother died in 1986; I dreamed of her. She was as beautiful as ever, and I was so happy to see her. She and I were visiting a Jewish Community Center. It had an open house. We went from room to room, viewing the exhibits. In one of the places, I got separated from Mom, involuntarily. I had been looking at something, and she must have wandered off.

As I do in similar situations when shopping with my wife, for example, I decided to stay put and look around to see if I could spot her. After waiting for several minutes, without luck, I decided to check some of the other rooms to see if I could find her. But still, I didn’t see her. The Community Center announced that it was closing. The Center’s entrance/exit consisted of two sets of double doors. Attendants closed and locked the entry doors. Only the exit doors were left open; I stepped outside and waited for Mom to appear. She didn’t. The last persons exited, and the doors were shut and locked. I decided the only other thing to do was to go back home and wait for her. Surely, she would go to my house. The dream ended without our reconnecting.

In the morning, I told my wife my dream. She asked me why I thought I dreamed of my mom. I told her I didn’t know; perhaps having my sleep disrupted by the air raid warning caused it. One of my favorite quotes from Dickens is in “A Christmas Carol.” Scrooge replies to Marley’s question about why he (Scrooge) doesn’t trust his senses, with the following:

“Because,” said Scrooge, “a little thing affects them. A slight disorder of the stomach makes them cheats. You may be an undigested bit of beef, a blot of mustard, a crumb of cheese, a fragment of an underdone potato. There’s more of gravy than of grave about you, whatever you are!”

Dickens, Charles. A Christmas Carol (Wisehouse Classics – with original illustrations).

I had drunk some less than stellar wine at our Shabbos table. Who knows? Perhaps…

However, in “A Christmas Carol,” immediately following the above passage, we find this.

Scrooge was not much in the habit of cracking jokes, nor did he feel, in his heart, by any means waggish then. The truth is, that he tried to be smart, as a means of distracting his own attention, and keeping down his terror; for the spectre’s voice disturbed the very marrow in his bones.

Dickens, Charles. Ibid.

Hmmm. Dad was the big guy, the protector, in our family. Or so I thought; or so it seemed.

This afternoon, I took our dog Kulfi for a long walk. On the way back home, we arrived at a corner at about the same time that a mother and her young son did. The boy, about three or four years old, was walking next to his mother. He eyed Kulfi carefully, not taking his eyes off him. Kulfi is a long-haired blue merle collie and looks a bit wolf-like. Then the boy reached up and pulled on his mother’s hand. She turned around, saw the dog and me, bent over, and picked up her son. As they walked away from us, I noticed the boy, over his mother’s shoulder, still staring at Kulfi. But now, he was smiling.

It was good to see my mom, no matter what caused it. It’s been a long time.

All the best,

Author: Gershon Ben-Avraham

Gershon Ben-Avraham is an American-Israeli writer. He lives in Beersheba, Israel, on the edge of the Negev Desert. He and his wife share their lives with a gentle blue-merle long-haired collie. Ben-Avraham earned an MA in Philosophy (Aesthetics) from Temple University. His short story, “Yoineh Bodek,” (Image) received “Special Mention” in the Pushcart Prize XLlV: Best of the Small Presses 2020 Edition. Kelsay Books published his chapbook “God’s Memory” in 2021. חב"ד‎

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