Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Not in Kansas Anymore OR Grieving for Leaving

Part One



The time has come to leave Israel yet again. I walk through the apartment, kissing each mezuzah goodbye, as has become my custom. My husband, not knowing how much time I am going to need to peel myself away, leaves the key in the open door. I close the door, turn the key, and, overcome with a flood of grief, rest my head on the locked door in a gesture of connection and reluctance to part.

"I don't wanna go!" I plead through waves of tears and searing pain. It's like leaving a lover with whom I know I can't stay, but from whom I don't yet have the strength to part.

I can't believe how sharp my grief, how hot my tears. From where does this come?? Walking away from my life in Israel is like tearing myself in half.


Part Two




The first leg of our journey puts us in Madrid, a modern, civilized airport with lots of expensive shopping opportunities. We have a long layover, and I am exhausted from grief and travel. I fall asleep in a wide, hard bank of seats at a deserted gate. I dream that a woman comes to warn us to leave this area of the airport because there is going to be an anti-Israel, antisemitic pogrom right near us.

I wake up and it is time to walk to our departure gate. A young man walks past us quickly, but not so quickly that we cannot receive his greeting.

"Shalom alecheim," he sends out into the air near us.

Hashem has sent us an angel to let us know we are not alone, even in the Barajas airport in Madrid.


Part Three


The plane lands in America and I cry again. Now I must step from the limbo of travel back into exile.

I focus on my blessings. Hashem clearly wants me in America for now. It is not my will to remain in galut. It is His. So I roll up my sleeves and say, "Okay. You brought me back here. Now give me something useful to do while I wait to go Home."

For a fleeting moment, I consider not returning until I can stay forever, so I never have to feel the pain of leaving. But, even as I contemplate it, I know that, despite the pain, I'll choose to return again and again, until Hashem lets me stay for good.