Monday, July 17, 2006

I have been praying for peace in Jerusalem since I was eight years old. My father had taken a construction job in Israel in 1963 and we lived on the edge of the Negev desert for nine months, until the beginning of the summer of 1964. I felt safe there despite the sight of armed soldiers on every street and the rumblings of war that were always percolating through the region. Now I am watching Israel and Lebanon explode again, and my heart is breaking one more time. This time though, we are already involved in Iraq--the thought of conflict spreading out like the brush fires in California and meeting in the middle of Syria, say, is both horrifying and plausible. To my prayers for Jerusalem, I must add prayers for Baghdad, Damascus, and Beirut.


Maria came home Friday evening. We had seen the news report, then got into a friend's car and headed for Reagan National Airport to pick her up. Matthew stayed home, feeling he just couldn't do it, so two young couples we knew came back over after having spent the afternoon with us and stayed with him, playing Monopoly and watching TV. It was very hard experiencing that first day of grief again with Maria, especially in the middle of the airport, but I was very grateful that I had asked someone else to drive us.

I slept a bit more the second night. We got up Saturday morning and again I went to Mass. This time the celebrant was an associate priest who apparently had been away because it was clear that he did not know about Thomas. The liturgy was short and to the point and totally devoid of emotional content, at least for me, which was probably a good thing. Without sympathy, I was actually able to cope somewhat better with the rest of the morning.

We went to the bank soon after it opened, looking with horror at our $12,000 check issued by the Department of the Treasury. Feeling unable to explain to an anonymous teller what this was for, we waited to speak with the branch manager who had helped me on many occasions and had actually helped Thomas update his account the previous summer. He took the check, deposited it, brought us the cash we asked for, hugged me, handed me tissues and looked terribly shaken as he explained what we would have to do to get access to Thomas's account. The passing thought that I should be on Thomas's account had just seemed too dire to express the day we got his new ATM card but it would have saved us some trouble if I had just said "Let's do this." Thomas died without a will (apparently the lines were too long and he only had us, not a wife and children, so he must have figured we could handle it, whatever it was) so several months later we got an order from the Clerk of the Court that allows us to handle his financial affairs.


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