Well, it’s been quite the week. What started as a perfect birthday week for Guy and I has turned into a rather shocking one. We are now back in Israel after the most glorious 10 days in Rome. We were completely taken with Rome – her beauty, her artistry, her history, her cuisine. (The whole gluten, dairy free thingamabob got lost in Germany somewhere). It was the perfect end to our European adventure and the first time we were really just tourists for a good length of time – wandering the city day and night. We had a small apartment in the Trevi area and from there we walked, we bussed, we trained, we skipped and we fell in love with Roma.
Leaving her, leaving Europe and farewelling our big adventure as just the four of us was of course in our thoughts throughout those 10 days. We all went to the Trevi fountain on our last night after eating the most delicious pizza and with joy and gratitude we blessed our epic voyage. The next morning we were out of the apartment by 7.30am, taxiing to Fiumicino airport, queuing up for tickets, walking up the stairs to the plane, flying …
And then we landed in Israel and in a flash Europe was over the ocean and we were back in the holy land, Guy’s homeland, into the arms of family and friends and lots of ‘familiar’. We took things slowly and eased into Guy’s birthday on the Saturday, then mine on the Monday. The weather was perfect, the kids were happy to be back in their second ‘home’ and I even managed a nude swim in the Mediterranean for my birthday – what could be better?
I knew the US election results would be Wednesday morning some time and though I knew it was possible that Trump could win, the shock that it actually happened will stay with me for some time. I don’t ever let the kids watch the news or anything commercial on TV but I had to watch this horrible reality show unfold, blurry eyed and all. And then of course I had to explain to Noa who was asking, and then Lina too, that this man, the one in the red tie, was going to be the leader of a country, but we didn’t like him. ‘Is he a bad man?’ Noa asked. Not wanting to alarm her because bad usually equates to scary in our house, I said, ‘no, he’s not bad, it’s just he’s not very nice’. But that’s a lie, isn’t it. He is a bad man. Potentially, a very bad man.
Wednesday was a hard day. Trying to rationalise how this happened, the reasoning behind voters’ choices, accepting that yet again a woman had hit the glass ceiling but didn’t break it, worrying about the future, everyone’s future, the planet’s future – it all felt miserably overwhelming. I think many of us felt betrayed by Trump’s victory because it meant people had really, actually voted for him. These decisions polarized us and made us question our core values. We felt lost and unhinged and disconnected. It became more obvious that people had hierarchized their values to protect one value over another and the outcome was this man won. We experienced three earthquakes in Rome but this was an earthquake of another magnitude – this shook us to our core.
Meanwhile my body was slowly battling its own vicious, revolting bug, though I didn’t know it yet. We decided to take the kids to the beach, wash away the morning, breathe in salty air, play and be in nature, forget about the media. But when I got there I suddenly got cold and couldn’t submerge myself in the water. This is rare for me. In fact this never happens as I will always commit to the water even on the windiest, coldest day. But that day my body said, ‘No’.
We went back to the house and Lina and I went to sleep. By nightfall Lina had thrown up twice and later that night my time came and we spent the night in synchronised throw ups – a symphony of groans and bellows and little cries from Lina. It’s one thing to parent an ill child through the night and another to do it when you’re ill yourself. Guy of course helped but the kids want their mama when they’re sick and so … it was a rough night. Thursday was spent recuperating, watching movies, drinking liquids and joking that Trump’s win had literally made us ill.
And then here we are Friday and I woke up at 5.45am with Lina wanting boob to discover that my hero and guru Leonard Cohen had departed this fair earth. I saw it written on my phone in a WhatsApp message from my dear friend Bianca:
Dearest Mim!! What a week I’m so sad for you that your hero Leonard Cohen has passed. Love to you!! B xx
I couldn’t open my phone to confirm the news through Facebook. Maybe I wanted to delay seeing the truth in multiple newsfeeds. Maybe I wanted to keep sleeping and wake up with better news. I lay there with Lina for a while, my eyes resting, breastfeeding her little worn out being, reflecting on Leonard. Hero. I hadn’t thought of Leonard like that but yes, that is what he was and is to me. According to Merriam-Webster, a hero is a person who is admired for great or brave acts or fine qualities. So what was great and brave about Leonard Cohen, what fine qualities did he possess?
So here comes my ode to Leonard. And if I need to justify this post and tie this in to traveling around the world with two kids and a campervan – I surely can. (One doesn’t travel wildly and preciously without LC on board). I have loved Leonard since I first heard ‘Suzanne’ when I was 18. From there I read my dad’s book of his poetry and from there it was one song after another. It was a rite of passage, a journey into the deep and I found so much solace, so much comfort in his music and more significantly, his words. Leonard gave me the space to be sad, to meditate on my being and to feel things intensely. I know many people found him depressing but for me it was the opposite – in Leonard Cohen I had found a kindred spirit, someone who crept into the dark crevices of time and searched for the light switch. And it was there. Every time. Sometimes it was just a word, sometimes it was in the music. But my heart always recognized his light. It is a brave person that faces fear, opens the Pandora box and searches for the radiance in life’s epic journey. And to do this with such eloquence, such fine tuning, such empathy, such meditation on every word and every note – well it is the work of a master.
Though Leonard died on my birthday November 7, his death was only announced today November 10. I find so much poetry in his death colliding with my date of birth (also Joni Mitchell’s – my other hero). All of us united under the same stars. But more pertinently, grieving for Leonard Cohen today after Trump’s election yesterday feels incredibly timely. If anyone can invite you into grief, allow you to feel sadness, go down on his knees with you and cry out for humanity – it would be Mr Cohen.
So I will cry. I will weep for all that has been lost this week. But I will continue to look for that light. And I will keep hitting on that glass ceiling. And I will stand with all those who need my vote, my support and my love. Sometimes the hate, the fear, has to be so transparent – spotlighted even – for it to be brought to higher ground.
There is a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in. LC
Lastly, my _fourlines_ to Leonard Cohen.
You gave us the space to grieve and love
To travel deep into the wonder and darkness
So Long, my hero
We will keep dancing and singing to the end of love