Adele Raemer asks, what is the worst thing that could happen at a wedding?
Caterer not showing up? Rainy weather?
For her daughter, it's a bomb blast at the ceremony.
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Editor’s Note: Adele Raemer, an American by birth, has lived on Israel’s border with Gaza since 1975. She became concerned with the security of her daughter’s wedding after tensions increased between Israel and Gaza when three teens were killed. She first shared her story on CNN iReport.
She has been dreaming about this day for as long as I can remember.
Ever since she was small, my daughter Lilach has fantasized about her wedding day. It took her a while, but it’s finally becoming reality. At the age of 32, she has found the man with whom she wants to spend her life. He was born and raised right here in Nirim, Israel, the same kibbutz where she was born. They have known each other all their lives, but since they are two years apart, they never really paid much attention to each other as they were growing up. All this makes it all the more special.
Our lives on the border with Gaza, in the western Negev Desert of Israel, are always tumultuous. There are times of running for shelters and explosions too close for comfort. But never has it been this sensitive, this close, this personally painful.
Think about your own life. What is the worst thing that could happen to wedding plans? The caterer could suddenly go bankrupt? The weather could turn bad?
Can you imagine having to worry that a rocket could blow up during the reception? Or planning for the prospect of a “red-alert” rocket-warning siren going off in the middle of the vows, sending family and friends scrambling in a panic for cover? This close to the border, we have no more than 15 seconds to make it to a shelter before the mortar explodes. This is our reality.
The planning of the wedding, which has been going on for months, is an event Lilach had been working up to – on one level or another – for most of her life. The decision to marry here, on our kibbutz, by the pool, made my heart soar. They have been working on their plans painstakingly, doing much of the work on their own. They scrimped and saved, and had friends pitch in to decorate jars with lace and paint the wall at the amphitheater at the pool, all in order to prepare a simple, low-key, beautiful wedding. It was meant to be on their own terms, on their own turf. The place where they both were born; the place where they want to settle down and raise a brood of their own.
The wedding is set for the end of this week. Invitations have gone out and loved ones have RSVP’d. The caterer is set and the dress has been bought. Tables and chairs have been ordered. Their ceremony has been planned to the letter, with their friends and loved ones playing the leading roles. In short: everything is in place, all systems “go.”
The only thing is, given the events of the past few days, we literally have to go. We must move the venue, because there is no way we can risk endangering the lives of our guests. The current situation has escalated at a terrifying rate and we cannot take the risk.
The wedding is now going to be held in Ga’ash, about an hour and a half away from the original venue. It is a beautiful, safe place in the middle of the country – if there really is such a thing as a safe place here in this tiny land. They wanted a Friday evening wedding, to be married at sunset. It will now be in the afternoon because of logistical limitations. The victory of finding a safer location is bittersweet: there have not been any weddings on Nirim for years, and this was going to be a very special, symbolic occasion for our community as well as for our family.
The ironic truth is that, of all my children, Lilach was the only one terrified of living here on the border with Gaza. She has suffered from nightmares and fears, refusing to walk around after dark on her own. This despite the fact that there is practically no crime in this community where everyone knows everyone else. She, of all the children, is the one child I never would have dreamt would be settling on Kibbutz Nirim to raise a family. Any of my other children? Maybe. But not Lilach. She was just too deeply certain that terrorists would infiltrate the kibbutz and pop up right under her window.
For years she searched, trying to find life elsewhere: in the United States for a while, in the center of Israel – anywhere but on the border with Gaza. Until she came back and fell in love with a man who wants to live no place else but here.
Instead of celebrating the wedding of her dreams, we found ourselves confronted with the nightmare of having to find a secure location, and the additional significant expenses involved in moving the celebration to a safer environment. But we have taken those lemons and turned them into formidable lemonade.
This is life on the border with the Gaza Strip: peaceful and welcoming most of the time, but occasionally, a battlefield with sirens and explosions. Occasionally a place where we hear bombs instead of wedding bells.
Any opinions expressed in this article are solely those of Adele Raemer.