My aunt and I started the beautiful drive further north for a consolation visit. We put on Radio Haifa to hear the sirens, and were soon in the scenic Galilee.
The village is located hill top, with amazing valleys and mountains all around. The view was peaceful. Rather, it should have been.
Family and friends sat together outside the house, on the lawn. White plastic chairs. The kind used around a backyard table.
I couldn't bear look at the parents. I sat on one of the chairs, looked at the grass instead, and listened. Artillery booms. Someone crying. A chopper. A sob. People hugging. The siren begins.
I looked up for a moment. No one moved. I continued to sit outside, on the lawn, fighting not-fighting the urge to go to the nearby bomb shelter. Katyusha exploding. One, two, three. (I don't know yet, but a young mother and her five year old die in that barrage). A weep. More artillery. The siren winds down. People grieving. Artillery.
The jumble of sounds, the beauty of the place, the people, the pain. The pain. The pain. All so surreal.
We drove home and stopped at a red light just when the welcoming siren hit us. What to do? Leave the car? Luckily the light turned green so we drove to the side of the road and ran hunched to seek shelter under the nearest building.
Half a day in northern Israel.