My Brother


Today is April 29th, 1998, more than two months without you.

Memorial Day of the IDF fallen soldiers, and you are among them.

I go back a few months in time.

The excitement when you finished school. All the family was so proud of you, standing there on the stage with your innocent look.

The fireworks lighted the sky, and the music brought tears to our eyes Ė it was hard to believe how grown up you had become.

You soon joined the army, in a significant job yet not too hard. Every second day you were home. On the times you were on duty over the weekends we visited you on Shabbat at the base.

I remember everything Yuval Ė our talks, serious and less serious. Smiles and tears. Family card games. All the jokes.

Every word is engraved among thousands of memories, and each memory becomes more significant and important.

Motherís lovely smile has disappeared.

Fatherís eyes are red from crying.

And Klila Ė Klila is totally shattered.

I remember you in so many ways.

The little chubby kid, the big telltale brother and a myriad faces, sounds and clothes.

But this evening you are my soldier. The soldier planning to go to the school ceremony proudly in uniform.

You wanted to mourn for the fallen Ė but life is so cruel and today I stand and mourn for you among the fallen.

The 17th February was the last day I saw you. You picked me up me from Dadís place take a film for you and Klila to see. What a laugh we had when you brought a film that she didnít want to see. Who would have thought that that would be the last time I would sit down and laugh with you, my brother,

If only Iíd known I would have hugged and kissed you before you dropped me off and went to sleep at Klilaís house. I told you to drive carefully, I got out of the car and I waved goodbye to you forever.

On 18th February around 4 pm they knocked on the door. Mother wasnít home. I saw them in uniform, entering the house, single file, and I knew right away. That knock on the door was a kind of Boom, a blow so big it changed our lives forever. I went with them to tell mother, and she wanted to hear that you were only wounded, just not the bitter truth. And father Ė I couldnít look him in the eyes: he looks so much like you.

All my life I listen to the news and read the papers, see pictures and hear names of fallen soldiers. But to see your name on television, written in black on a blue background with the IDF insignia? To see your picture in the paper with that smile of yours?

And the headlines: A terrible disaster; An awful accident; A tragic mistake.

An injustice. An attempt to define the loss but such a word has yet to be created. It is too big and difficult, ostensibly above mundane values.

Before the funeral we were allowed to see you, to say our goodbyes. And you were lying so peacefully, so handsome. Hundreds came to pay their last respects, covering you with flowers for the eternal slumber from which you will not arise.

Life is so unfair. We werenít ready, nor were you. Only 19 years old.

The memories stay, we have each other, but itís not enough because the loneliness devours us. We want you back. Opposite me is your picture to which I cry every night, cry and look for an answer to the question: what should I do?  Like when I used to ask your advice, but only now you donít answer. You are just there for me, smiling, with cigarette in hand. And youíre so perfect.

Our longings swamp us and the tears keep on flowing. How do we carry on? We cannot get back to ourselves, itís too hard to grasp.

How do we maneuver, my angel, among your photo albums that are permanently on the living room table, the memorial candles lighting the house, and the trips to the flowering cemetery.

How do we return to a seeming routine which has so many demands Ė such as thinking of things other than you, or concentrating on diverse things. How do we continue, Yuval?

My Yuval, my brother, my angel, wherever you are always remember that we shall be reunited one day, all of us.

Until then Ė we are here. Living for you, loving you and remembering you always.

I am using this opportunity to address anyone listening:

This evening when you celebrate the 50th Anniversary of our country remember you too have parents, brothers, sisters and friends - and take care of yourselves always.