The Dragon Boat Race
On the first day of the event all thirty two teams from Canada and Israel gathered at Kibbutz Ma’agan on the south shore of Lake Kinneret. The day was very well organized. There was a food court, entertainment, and shelter from the sun for each team. One Family Toronto’s team was paired with couples (victims) from Israel in one boat. These couples were at a therapy retreat for several days and were chosen to team with us in the races. We quickly got to know each other, even though language was a small barrier. After the practice races we meet for lunch. We were encouraged to talk to them and to hear what they had gone through. We were eager to listen and they were eager to talk to us. We all made emotional connections. It was amazing but not easy. After lunch we gathered into a circle, with Israelis and Canadians sitting side by side. A very good therapist joined the group. She placed picture cards on the floor in front of us and asked us to look at them and to choose one that meant something to us. It was a vehicle for us to talk about ourselves and explain to others, what we were feeling. There were many stories that we heard, but one very important and emotional one, will stay with all us for a long time. An Israeli man stood up in the circle. Beside him was another man sitting down, and a woman beside him. Let’s call the man standing Isaac, and the man sitting Jacob. Isaac was trembling and crying and holding on to the arm of Jacob sitting beside him. He told his story with great emotion. Ten years prior to this meeting he had been in a bombing that left him in a coma for some time. Isaac, Jacob and his wife were invited to the retreat and races, but they did not know each other. Over lunch they realized that they both had been in the same bombing and that they both were in the same emergency department in a hospital. Isaac was in a coma but Jacob was not and they were side by side in beds. The women sitting beside Jacob was his wife. While in the hospital she was on her cell phone trying to have her husband moved to another hospital that was closer for her. She was successful and Jacob was transferred. The story should have ended there, but it was only the beginning.
Over lunch Isaac heard Jacob’s wife’s voice and said I know who you are. Isaac was in a coma but he heard her voice and had kept that sound of her voice with him for ten years. Jacob and his wife did not believe Isaac until he said “I know what you said over the phone”. He told them that he heard her asking to have her husband moved to another hospital. He was in a coma still. There was dead silence in the room in reaction to this storey. Israel is full of stories about reconnection of survivors and victims, but this was beyond belief. It reaffirms the belief in the human spirit.
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