The humidity is stifling in his Brooklyn apartment, but Avi deals with it the best he can. Air conditioning has always made him uncomfortable and today, of all days, he will not open the window and turn on the fan. Today he wants to be closed off to the world. The two most important people in his world have been gone a while now and on this day he wants no one but them in his room. Cancer took his Marion five years ago, and Daniel, his only boy, was gone long before that. Today would have been Daniel’s fifty-fifth birthday.
Avi worked hard once he came to this country after the war. He was lucky, he knew, unlike so many of his friends and family who never made it out of Europe. Yes, as a teenager he had to hide in West Africa with his parents, but they were safe, and afterward, as the war was winding down and Americans could no longer turn a blind eye, they made their way to New York. So Avi learned a trade, worked the phone lines, made a life for him and Marion, a beautiful school teacher six years his elder that lived next door to his parents, and they raised a smart, strong, kind child together.
Daniel was always so compassionate and full of energy. He became a school teacher, like his mother, but could not stay safe at home in the states. No, proud, passionate boy that he was he had to go to Israel. He wanted to build bridges, not real ones of course, but between people. He wanted to teach the Palestinian children suffering the effects of decades of war. The man carrying the bomb in the crowd did not know Avi’s son. He did not care that this bright-eyed boy from America was there to help HIS people. He, to Avi’s way of thinking was just an animal, bent on destruction.
So now every year Avi shuts himself out. He lets himself have a good cry for a day. He will never have his beautiful boy back, or his lovely Marion. He keeps going, day by day, knowing they would both be ashamed if he gave in to his despair, but for twenty-four hours he does. Every July he take time to let it out and let it hurt. Once a year, that is all.