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Mission A Guide to Perplexed

A BALLAD FOR A SON - To Arik from Dad

by Yitzhak Frankenthal   15.04.2013

Waiting for his birth, my firstborn. Overwhelmed by fatherly feeling I never knew existed. No, not everyone understands these emotions- Only those familiar with the joy of creation know the fatherly feeling of: “Before I formed thee, in the belly I knew thee “. And now, the greatest marvel and miracle is born, the bond with my creator - My partner - the creator, something from nothing. Overflowing with fatherly feelings, bursting from every emotional channel within me, and I am in the seventh heaven. Changed forever - Not the Yitzhak I was before Arik - A part of me, as I am of his. Touched by his first cry- Tearful from his tiny feet, Tiny fingers. Before the Bris, On my sleepless night, Anxious what awaits my little one, I ruminate, I recall the covenant between God and his people, The divine command, The pact - the Bris, I remember - my life in your blood,  Consoling myself that I if have forgotten, So will the child.  The child grew, and I am touched by his innocent smile, bursting with joy when the first tooth comes out. And the child grew, all blue eyed, golden hair, I burst with joy and pride, my heart overflows at his every prank, when he hurts, I hurt, in his sickness - I feel sick, when he smiles- I go wild -his joy is my own.  Happy to change his diapers, to ease his uncomfort.  And suddenly, each of his handsome garments brings me a special joy, for this son who is mine. I see toys – I buy them for him, for his joy in them is my joy. And suddenly I realize, this little man is mine and of me, and I shower him with love, as I believe in the ways of love.  And he returns the love, a proud caress, a kiss of love, a friendly hug.

And the child grew, I share his passions, I share his pranks. We share a special language, a voiceless language, a language communed by the eyes, that he saw and understood.  And the child grew. And when he went to the Judea desert, when he wore earrings, fooled around, laughed, smiled, to him I said:  I wish your laugher was real, you would smile from within, and he internalized my words and understood.  When he debated with friends, about matters of utmost importance, I was proud of his stance. When we argued, and we fought, Arik smiled.  And when I was upset and boiling over with anger, he was the optimist.  And the child grew, to the army he went, and insisted he serve in the armored forces. When he suffered from four March Fractures, his spirit was not broken, and on he went, and fought for his right to go on.  And when he came on leave, full of grease and happy about his service in the armored forces, he returned with a smile, addicted to the army, He regarded it as his duty to society, a privilege. As I told him, before he enlisted, when he requested a small “bonus” to mark the occasion:  Arik, service is not a duty, service is a privilege. Until now you have received from the country, and now it is time for you to pay back your dues.  Arik, with an eternal smile on his face: when he returned to the army, he was armed with a smile, And on celebrating his enlistment, He was joyous and smiling, The eternal smile. I am sure when he entered the vehicle of death; he wore that smile, with good heartedness, with joy. 

And how did he feel in the moments of fear, when he knew he was trapped?  What went on in his head?  Did he feel the first bullet fly?  Did he feel the second? The third?  Or the knife that was raised?   Did he sense the danger lurking?   Did he have time to prepare for his death?  Did death come quickly?  Did he suffer?  Did he feel?  Did he shout to the heavens?  Did he struggle and fight, for every fraction of a second?  Did it happen immediately as he entered?  Or a few minutes later?  Did he have time to realize?  Or did he act immediately?  And what went inside his head, during the last second?  Shma Israel, Did he see his parents? His brothers?  His friends?  The green grass?  The moshav?  The Kibbutz?  The barn?  The Yeshivah?  Did he remember the caress?  Did he think of … Of what? God almighty, Did he, on that second, see- or feel- or- Was he paralyzed from fear?  Was he flooded with pain? With fear?  Did he on that very second, realize, that this is his last second?  One god, What, God the creator, did he think of?  Before he became an angel?  And the greatest question of all, Why?  And the thunderous answer, the voice of silence.  No caress of love,  No glance of understanding, No blue eyes,  No golden hair,  No scent,  Arik's scent,  No magic smile, No joy of life,  No son that grew up,  No more fooling around,  And the son is gone,  The brother is gone,  The grandson is gone,  The friend is gone.  And in the funeral I remember the coffin, covered with a flag, a flag that since then has become mixed in my mind as a blanket for Arik,  a cover for the void.  And in the coffin that I want to open, to give him a hug, a kiss, to say farewell:  Farewell to Arik for the last time.

Son, Beloved son, Dear son, I wish I was dead in your place, come out, take my place, come and live.  And I’m walking after the command car, and I gaze at the coffin, and still can't get it; Is Arik inside?  Is he wearing his clothes?  Is he dripping with blood?  Are his organs intact? And I march behind the coffin thinking, it must be a dream, and I see people around, and I tell myself: No, It is no dream, it’s Arik's remains. I refuse to accept this, I want to scream, I want to climb inside the coffin.  I cry, a cry of pain, of a broken heart, I cry and stare- is Arik there? 

Yitgadal Veyitkadash-Glorified and sanctified be God’s great name.  Inside the grave,  At the first it was driving me crazy, thinking about  the worms,  about the ants,  about the skin and bones,  The meal of death for the joker of the earth,  the feast of death on Arik's flesh, Shmeya Raba- May His great name. And I remember- The watch they returned, soaked with blood,  his "dog-tag" chain soaked with blood,  Arik's blood.   On his birthday I buried them with him,  A present I gave him,  for his birthday.   Blood calls to blood, le-olam uleh-olmay olmaya - Be blessed forever and to all eternity.  And the thought of the feast, it gives me no rest, but only at the beginning.   Later, I knew that Arik is with me,  and in truth,  Arik is with me everywhere.b'chaiyeichon uv'yomaeichun uvechayei d'chol beit Yisrael -May He establish His kingdom in your lifetime and during your days, within the life of the entire House of Israel   And the thoughts that tear at me; what happens to him "there"?  Where is "there"?  Is there "there", and what is there?  Will we recognize each other when we meet?  Be’agalah uh’bizaman karev-Speedily and soon. And can all of you remember the beginning?  The fatherly feelings towards the newborn child,  the feeling of void too, the cupful of pain from the void,  The void feeling of pain,  the feeling born out of the void-No vitality,  but Pain,  A language that strangers will not understand.  A gift, for one who does not understand- it’s a language, an unspoken language, an unwritten language. Not using your ear,  Not using  your eye,  it is the language of void,  The language of senses,  The language of contrast,  The opposite of "being"-  The contrast to joy, The contrast to vitality, to a living child, a logic,  The opposite of a son who buries his parent ,  The opposite of a cornerstone, a song.  And the sadness, the sadness mixed up with reality, the loss of a sense of time.  The sadness, it connects you to yesterday, as if it were before for just a few minutes, And how difficult, To find the words, that ones that will act as the Chariots of God, Baruch Dayan Emet- God judges truely .  And I,  I have made an eternal covenant,  With my life's blood,  Baruch Dayan Emet- God judges truely, ,  Modeh Ani Lefaneyha,   Blessed he who gives,  Blessed he who returns, Modeh Ani Lephanechah-  My God I thank Thee for the breath you have put into me.Yeheh Shmayah Raba Mevorach-Blessed and praised, glorified and exalted, extolled and honored, adored and lauded be the name of the Holy One,  

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4 Comments
1 by Dana
This is so sad and moving. I hope you will not experience any more sorrow in your life.
2 by Yossi
Wow, this the worst thing that can happen to a parent. As a new dad I can only say that I wish no parent (either Israeli, Palestinian or any other) will have to go through the suffering and sorow and pain that you are going through. I hope you will successeed in what you are trying to achieve so my wish will come true
3 by Ibrahim
May Arik rest in peace and may no one have to feel the sorrow you feel
4 by Kirk
What an inspiration you are!! I wish this didn't have to happen but it worms the heart seeing that you went in a peaceful way and not in the way that prolongs the conflict