How many of us have watched our children sleeping? It’s an almost sacred moment when the troubles fall away and all you see is the miracle of your child being alive.
When we sleep we are at our most vulnerable. A bedroom should be a safe room, a sanctuary.
Hallel’s bedroom was not a safe room. 17 years old, he should never have been in her room. As she lay sleeping, her breath did not speak to him of the miracle of life. To him it was a beckoning call to murder. He slaughtered 13.5 year old Hallel with a knife, pouring her life out all over her bed.
Hallel’s room was far from safe.
Hallel, the girl named after a song sung in praise of God, did not merit having a safe room. Because she was Jewish. Because she was Israeli. Not even her American citizenship could protect her.
Hallel danced and drew pictures. She especially liked drawing animals. A child who chose to become a vegetarian because she loved animals so much that she refused to be responsible for their slaughter – that is the child who was slaughtered.
Can you imagine continuing to live in the home where your baby was murdered? Could you go in to her room? Walk by the door? Could you sleep at night knowing your other two girls are asleep in the rooms next to where your child died?
This is Hallel’s room, the day after. Her two little sisters, ages 10 and 4, and their friends filled her room with the sounds of children, sounds of life. Their parents sat and watched, their eyes going back and forth between Hallel’s drawings and the new drawings the girls were making.
This is what strength looks like.
It is impossible for me not to think of the “safe spaces” college students in America have begun demanding. It seems to have become a trend to insist that language is curtailed to prevent tender souls being crushed by the wrong choice of word.
Hallel’s sisters and their friends have no illusions about safe spaces.
These small children know that life is a choice and freedom is a state of mind. Terror (and what could be more terrifying?!) will not drive them from their home. They know what is important. Hallel’s 4 year old sister found a blood spot on Hallel’s mattress that the people who cleaned up missed. She asked her mother if they could leave the spot there because that was the only part of her sister they have left. She knows not to ask for a “safe space,” what she wants is her sister.
These tiny children know that no one can control their surroundings tightly enough to ensure that they are completely protected. They however will always have the power to choose how to react. Their parents taught them that the correct response to devastating horror is to continue to live. The correct response to terrible, sickening violence is to create something beautiful.
Terrorism can rip their loved ones away from them but no one will ever be able to crush their souls. That is true strength.
Who would ever have thought that power looks like small children drawing pictures in a bedroom?