Chagit and Ya'ara Shapira
July 25th, 2000. It was dusk then, as it is now, and I did not know that in five hours I would be speaking to you for the very last time in this lifetime of mine.
July 25th, 2000, dusk time, as it is now, and you already knew you were going to your death. In a few hours you would be saying goodbye to Shahaf, seemingly lightly. You would call some of your good friends and call Ya'ara, who is on a Kinneret beach with friends and has forgotten her phone at home. You would leave her a message, and finally call home. I would pick up the phone and the first thing I would ask is whether the gloom has gone by. Gloom was our private code for everything you were going through in those days. The days which, in retrospect, proved to be your last; the days which, in retrospect, life was insufferable burden for you; the days in which the last ray of hope disappeared from your life. You would answer - no, the gloom has not passed. And your voice would be soft and quiet and I would hear a deep sadness in it. No anger, no complaint, no yelling, just sadness. So much sadness. We would talk for a few more minutes, and then - long minutes of silence. Every now and then you would break that silence and say you must end and get going, and yet you wouldn't put the phone down. So we would continue talking. About the upcoming vacation in two and a half days, about your being repositioned some place that does not require you to shoot and especially about patience; the patience to wait for things to sort themselves out even when the road is long. Finally we would end the conversation with - See you on Friday - and I would go to bed. The following day I would wake up to your death.
July 25th, 2004
It has been four years now that I have been playing hide-and-seek with that telephone conversation. There are times it is not there anymore. Sometimes I only recall a few bits and desperately try to fill in the gaps and reconstruct every word. Sometimes it comes out of hiding and comes to life in me to the finest detail; so crystal clear, as if it were taking place right this minute. When it goes deep into hiding I get frightened. I need it. Don't disappear on me, I beg. I want to hear you one more time. Just one more time, I promise. But it plays tricks on me. It comes when it wishes. And when it wishes - it hides. With time it becomes more and more vague. The words get blurred and all that remains of it is your soft voice, so quiet, so sad.
Almost two weeks before this conversation of ours we went to Latrun for the ceremony marking the end of your basic training. I went with remarked reluctance, the hardcore ceremony-hater that I am. During the ceremony I was busy daydreaming, not even attempting to search for you among the rows of marching soldiers. I was just waiting for it to end already. Late that night, when you had all finished running around, disarming, clearing up, cleaning, you were all asked to return your weapons. You ran to us for just a moment to tell us we would be leaving really soon. And indeed after a few moments you came back with shining eyes. Mom, you said to me, you have no idea how happy I am now that I have given back my weapon and it is no longer on me.
We get into the car and the smell of your sour sweat fills it up. On the way you told us again and again, so very happily, what a relief you feel now that you are free of the weapon. Free of the instrument that, more than anything else symbolized in your eyes that "man hath pre-eminence above a beast" Forever will I carry in my heart the light that shone in your eyes at that moment.
Four years have elapsed since then, since the moment you wrote: "This reality that so disturbs me will not change. The killing machines will continue on and on and people will continue killing and fighting and it seems I am the one who does not belong here".
Four years have passed from that moment in which you, who swore to never pull a trigger, pulled it a single time, when the barrel was deep in your throat. Four years of longing for you, insufferable longing and infinite love. Four years in which I wonder whether I would really be satisfied with loving a soul rather than a real flesh and blood boy.
Four years have passed, in which your friends have put on uniforms and have taken them off, and some have already left for their big post-military trip to see the big world. Some others are settling down - studies, work, you know.... Michal and Dana's babies have grown into children, and Ya'aras' friends are the soldiers of today. Nothing is as it was, and only the fear, the hatred and the killing have remained the same, or rather - have increased. In your death, my child, you were asking - enough. In your death you were calling out to us to put an end to devaluating life. In your death you wished to reinstate man's lost dignity. In your death you wished to remind us all that life is sacred and of the highest value. But your voice was not heard, and your cry fell on deaf ears. Two societies have chosen to continue bleeding to death, and human life and human dignity are worn thin on both sides of the non-existent border each and every day, each and every hour.
Four times I have met you on this day, here, near Rotem's grave. And each time I see you, I turn to you all and request: You, who have come here today to honor his memory, please remember that we were all created in the image of God, and the true way to remember Rotem is to implement his uncompromising faith in the sanctity of human life and human dignity. You, who have known him, have loved him, please take a fragment, a spark - be it even the tiniest one -of his faith and place it in your heart.
For four years I have been telling you that the hope that it is possible is all which is left to me, his mother, after taking my leave of him before he reached the age of nineteen.
For four years I have been marching along an inner private voyage, taking my pain towards hope.
Peter, my own Peter Pan, can you hear?
How did you suddenly chose,
How did you suddenly gone,
In an instant.
How is Neverland?
Full of adventures?
Are you in a dream now?
Has the wild thoughts passed?
In any case, I just wished to tell you,
To send some messages from your home...
You, my Peter, will remain as you always were.
The waves of life will not touch you
And the burial place is filled with Peters with no future;
Peter Pan men - their candles extinguished.
But the most frightening thing,
The very nature of the curse,
Is that I was always the young one
And in one of these days - a change of nature order,
The older will stay young; the young ones will become older.
That is the nature of relationship between Neverland-Land.
And how can it be that all of us here shall turn old,
And that curse, that choice
Is the one to be remained forever more in the place of death
At the same age, in the same uniform that killed you.