Three Israeli teenagers were kidnapped on their way home from school 18 days ago. Their bodies were found yesterday, bound and hastily buried under a pile of rocks in Hebron. They were shot shortly after they were kidnapped when the terrorists thought (wrongly) that the police were in pursuit. The boys were trying to get home from school on a Thursday night to spend the weekend at home.
In the 18 days that they were missing, people were transformed. The three mothers were transformed into ambassadors of grief, worry, hope and action. They went to Geneva to appeal to the U.N, they met with government leaders, they publicly asked the country to stay strong and keep praying. They were mothers with a mission. They were desperate mothers. They were three mothers who lost their children and while soldiers were scouring the country trying to find them, these three mothers thanked people endlessly. Ambassadors of grief and of grace.
Many people have wondered how these women were able to be strong enough to survive the minutes that became hours that became days and weeks of not knowing where their children are. When my child slipped away from me for a few minutes in Target once, the fear started in my gut- like a sucker punch and went up to my throat and to the tips of my fingers in an icy-cold wave. It made me instantly want to throw up. That was for three minutes. So when I saw these women, days later, able to stand up in front of a crowd of people and thank them for their concern and encourage others to keep praying -- I was at a loss. I couldn't stop wondering if they were able to sleep. Were they able to eat? To shower? To talk to their husband and kids?
When I heard that the boys bodies were found, all the air got sucked out of the room. I instantly thought of these women. How will they continue to live? How will they be able to ever feel joy again? On my commute home, there was some highway construction and a big flashing sign that said "KEEP MOVING". I thought: "Yes. But how?"
Then I saw these women burying their children and it dawned on me that they will keep moving and possibly even feel joy again for one reason alone. They are women of faith. With their heads covered in accordance to Orthodox Jewish law, their shirts torn in accordance with the Jewish laws of mourning, with prayer on their lips and belief in a power so much greater than themselves and in a religion that will carry them through this morass of agony. This is how they will continue to live.
In my line of work, I unfortunately have seen many mothers lose their children. What I have learned is that the women who believe in something can maintain a shred of hope and sanity. The women who have faith have a safety net that will catch them after they fall. So instead of spiraling down endlessly into the abyss, there's a floor for them. They are able to keep moving.
Whether it's God or Nature or a Spirit of the Universe -- it carries broken mothers and wraps them in an ethereal shawl. Like a mother wraps her children and keeps them warm.
To the three mothers who are broken today: May your faith be your shawl and may you be able to somehow keep moving.
In loving memory of Eyal Yifrah, Gilad Shaar and Naftali Fraenkel.