A Different Way of Seeing
By Sherri Mandell
A year after my 13 year old son Koby was murdered, my 7 year old son and I went to visit my sister in East Hampton, a beautiful beach town on the eastern end of Long Island. We got to the beach and put our blankets down. Gavi went into the water and began boogie boarding. The air was hot, the water perfectly cool, a perfect contrast in temperatures.
A half hour later, we got thirsty and my sister sent us to the kiosk for drinks. I was tired, jetlagged and didn't feel like trudging the 10 minutes to the refreshment stand. But Gavi wanted ice cream. We stepped slowly up the hot beach and got to the stand and it was mobbed. I was sweating and cranky. We waited in line with a bunch of children and teenagers.
It took a good 20 minutes to finally get our refreshments. I balanced a cardboard box with our huge ice-filled lemonades and ice creams and we made our way back to our umbrella. The hot sand scorched my bare feet. I turned back to wait for my son to catch up. Then suddenly I saw a man who looked familiar to me. I looked at his eyes. I knew those brown almond eyes. It was Paul McCartney.
Paul McCartney -- who I had kissed on the TV screen when he appeared on Ed Sullivan when I was close to Gavi's age. Paul McCartney -- who I had daydreamed about marrying some day.
Now I stopped in my tracks. Paul looked at me and smiled. His eyes were wrinkled and sad. And then he said, "Hello," and walked on. I considered walking after him to say something, to tell him about Koby, to ask him about his wife, Linda who had died from breast cancer. But I decided not to. He was a widower in jeans and a T- shirt, carrying his beach things.
An older couple behind me carrying snacks walked up to me and said, "That was Paul McCartney."
"He said hello to you," they said, impressed.
"Who is Paul McCartney?" Gavi asked.
I told him about the Beatles, the Ed Sullivan Show, I Want to Hold Your Hand.
Gavi looked at me and said, "Boy Mom, everybody knows you."
Oh did I smile. For Gavi, I was the famous one. I was the one who people knew. With his child eyes, he turned everything around.
And yet, there was also truth to his vision. He was able to reframe the situation, a true paradigm shift. There is always a different way of seeing.
The foundation we created in honor of Koby holds women's healing retreat in Israel for widows or bereaved mothers whose husbands or children were murdered by terrorists. Last winter, an important politician joined us on our two-day program. She didn't want to participate but she wanted to honor our work by meeting us. I introduced her to Shira Chernoble, a grief counselor and massage therapist. "I really admire you for doing this kind of work." she told Shira. "It must so draining."
Shira answered her: "It would be difficult for me to drive a taxi or do telemarketing all day. But doing this work is an honor. Being with these women in their pain, that is a privilege. It's holy work."
Shira was able to see something that the politician missed completely. She saw her experience through a different frame.
Many of us chase fame and fortune, yet our mundane lives rest quietly next to us, waiting to be recognized. Paul McCartney, the man I once thought was a god, on the beach he was just a guy wearing flip flops.
But me? I am Gavi's mom.