So this is what it's like, she thought, wryly. Miryam poked at the ground under her feet with a stick she'd picked up on her walk. It was rubble, debris, not a natural stick like a person might find on a hike through the forest on a quiet morning. A stroll of that kind was a luxury left for other people, in other places. Her journey this morning had led her through the ruins of homes, bricks tossed like children's blocks, burnt patches of grass, hollowed out shells of buildings.
This is peace? Anger bubbled. Who were the politicians to tell her with a smiling face that they had brought an end to the war? Hadn't they started it in the first place? Had any of them spilled blood, sacrificed a son or husband, given up one precious thing during the last ten years? The war was a game of numbers to them, sanitized and glamorous, a romantic notion of heroism and courage. Do they even remember that these are flesh-and-blood lives with which they gamble?
Her age in years was young, but her soul was ancient. She had seen much. Miryam knew what even wise men know: there is a time for everything; even war. Wars could bring righteous change, though it had never happened here. Reconciling that concept of a virtuous outcome of war with the reality she saw in this moment...well, that was nearly impossible.
A frantic tug on her leg signaled the presence of her son. Miryam leaned down from where she sat and picked him up, hefted the weight of him against her chest and held him tightly. Too tightly for his liking and as two-year-olds are apt to do, he wriggled out of her arms, but not before she landed a sound kiss on his soft mop of hair.
“Thank you, Father, for the blessings I do have,” she spoke quietly as she set David on his chubby feet.
She was aware that although life was not as she would wish, she was counted among the fortunate, having lost only one brother in the fighting, and a few friends. Many women she knew mourned husbands, fathers, brothers and sons. She sent up one more prayer of thanks.
This morning the air was still. No gunfire, no screaming. Enough time had passed since the last battle had taken place that even the stench of death seemed driven away. The sky was blue, bluer than it had been in a long while, no ash to breathe in, no smog to obscure the glorious sunshine. Was it possible for a moment to believe that this was truly the beginning of the peace she'd prayed so long for? Did she even dare to hope that life would be better tomorrow? Or in the tomorrows that followed for herself and her children?
Regardless of whatever might come later, today she was resigned that she would begin the only step she could take herself: the moving forward; picking up the pieces. Whether the war really was over--something about which she had her doubts--or not, the family would need to be fed, the house would need to be put to rights, the lights lit and the beds made. She would put her own home in order, and then help the others who couldn't help themselves. That was the way of things here.
Miryam picked up a broom that stood in the corner and began to sweep the hard-packed floor. She would pull her life back together, one stroke at a time.
It's been a while since I've read the featured article for the week. Glad I clicked on the spotlight. Great story that was well told. I could feel her anguish. I liked the "sweeing" analogy in pulling herself together for what lay ahead.