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The Things We Do for Love

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The Things We Do for Love: Stories of My Life, by Ruhama Veltfort

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Excerpt from “The Trauma of Birth”

It’s Mothers’ Day and songs about mothers are playing on the radio. On this station, it’s songs about mothers whose sons are at war and I say a prayer of gratitude that neither you nor Josh had to go, or wanted to. One of the first things you told me was that you never even registered for the draft. Amazing! And Josh, in the car from the airport when he came home from UCLA the night of the first Baghdad bombing: “If they call me up I can’t go, I would refuse an order to kill.” I cry for the mothers of soldier sons and daughters, and the mothers who are themselves at war now. The mothers whose houses are bombed and bulldozed, whose kids are blown up by land mines and notsosmart bombs, incinerated with napalm and white phosphorous. All those mothers who grieve for children who they will never be reunited with.

You’ll take me out to dinner tomorrow; today is the day for your mom. I cry for her too — her disappointments, her determination. You were already three months old when you came to her; she didn’t know you. She started from scratch to build her motherhood, loving not a jot less, without that deep, physical connection that comes from growing, from blood and mystery, a new human being inside your body. I’m glad she got to be a mom. And I say it again, at my kitchen table: I’m glad your mom got to be a mom.

You take me to a very nice restaurant where I’ve wanted to go for months. It’s trendy and too noisy for my old lady friends, but the food is spectacular. You are already there when I arrive and I worry that I am late but no, you tell me, you were early. The waiter pours from a bottle of champagne. You brought it, you came early to have it chilled. A special surprise.

And we have the usual good talk over our good food: your work at the law office, my writing, city politics. You have a new girlfriend, but one with an expiration date: she’s expecting a job in another state and she’ll be gone in a few months. You don’t want more, and you do want more. It’s an old story for you; an even older one for me. After dinner we walk to my car. I drop you at your apartment on my way home. It was a wonderful evening. And I’m sad.

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