Eight small little bowls of different dips…creamy cheeses, garlic roasted eggplant, humus, olives, butter, fresh loaf of bread, a larger bowl of cut veggies and a few hard-boiled eggs was delivered to the front door of our Zimmer for breakfast. The cheeses were straight from the family farm. This was a typical Israeli breakfast although a little more artesian since it came straight from the farm. Three of us sat outside eating breakfast while the fourth was just up over the hill getting a shiatsu massage! Then, that person would come down and we would switch. The massage was done in a small room on the floor with gentle cultural music quietly playing. The woman was very medicinal…she would gently apply pressure with her fingers and palm to various areas of the body. The temperature was warm, the music was soft and she was practicing this gentle therapy on us while chanting. This therapy is supposed to be very healing to the autonomic nervous system. After a quiet night in the desert…it was a great way to stay relaxed through the morning.
One thing I forgot to mention yesterday…as we were getting ready for bed…I swear I heard what sounded like bombs going off. They were distant but I heard them. When I brought it to Giff’s attention…he looked at me like I was crazy. When I woke up…I heard these bombs again and this time, made Giff stop to listen…he heard them too. We found out that once every six months they launch missiles for practice into a specific area of the desert. Giff and Ayal went out to get some cash and saw some of these army tanks driving on the side of the road (see our pictures). If we had been by ourselves…this would definitely had freaked us out. It doesn’t exactly give you the warm and fuzzies to hear bombs going off in Israel and see the big tanks driving on the rocky hills! Ayal however explained as he smiled that this was totally normal. While we’re on the topic of military. We had seen the troops at the Western Wall with all their guns practicing for their graduation but it isn’t rare in the slightest to see military men carrying machine guns where ever they are…off duty or on duty, in uniform or not. So…for example, we were in the gas station and saw an 18 yr old kid walk by in his t-shirt and shorts with a machine gun slung over his shoulder…no big deal! This seemed very odd to us…yes, our army has guns but no we do not see them on a daily basis. Ayal explained to us that every Israeli citizen has to be in the military from age 18-21 years old, both men and women. So…yes, you will see them carrying their guns. He thought it was so weird that we thought it was weird to see random people carrying a machine gun as they stood in line to get a carton of milk.
We left our Zimmer and took the long drive back to Tel Aviv. After having a little down time back at Ayal’s aunt’s house we went out to dinner at a trendy restaurant in the city. We sat at the bar and shared dinner and met up with a couple of Ayal’s friends. It was late but we made a quick stop for a drink at another bar with live music where Ayal’s sister was meeting us before heading home to bed.
Published by Giff Kabat
I grew up in Ohio as a kid, so of course I went to college at “THE” Ohio State University. I graduated in 2001 with a major in business finance. A month after graduation, I moved out to California with my college girlfriend (whom I married in 2005)…and started my career in sales (industrial sales for 5 years…then moved into medical laser sales for 4 years).
In 2009 I was 31 years old. I had a great job, a new house, and a beautiful wife. Just when I thought things couldn’t get any better…my wife and I found out we were going to have a baby. Everything was going according to plan…and I couldn’t have scripted a better life for myself.
Then in the same year…everything changed. My wife, Brandey, called me when I was on my way to work and told me over the phone, something I never thought could be possible in a million years. My beautiful 30-year old pregnant wife was just told that she had breast cancer. At that moment, everything stopped all at once. I immediately went to her…and learned of our new plan…which began with her needing surgery immediately…and the rest we would find out later.
The day we returned from the hospital after Brandey’s surgery…my father died. He had been battling an aggressive cancer of his own…and although he was the one person I wanted to speak with about Brandey having cancer…I never told him. My sister, Brooke, had just gotten married a few months ago, and although he was weak, he was able to walk his little girl down the aisle of her wedding. On the night before my sister’s wedding, Brandey and I told him that we were pregnant and about to make him a grandfather. It made no sense to tell him that everything had changed for us…so he died in peace knowing everything was “the way it should be” for his only 2 children.
2010 was the worst year of my life. We had lost our baby…and for 12 months I watched my wife fight cancer with multiple surgeries, chemotherapy, radiation treatments, and drug therapy. It was a difficult year for us…but we made it. When you go through something like this in life, you learn a lot about yourself and the people around you. I was amazed at the strength and courage of my wife…and how many good people there are in this world. I will be forever grateful for the ones who never ceased to amaze me with their kindness during this hard time. Family, friends, and sometimes complete strangers…helped us make it through this. I am, and will always be especially grateful to my mother, who was with my dad at the very end, when I couldn’t be there, and when things were at their worst. She has been so supportive throughout all of this, and without her everything would have been so much harder for me.
It’s 2011 now…and the plan we have for our life this year…is to make it the best year of our lives. Brandey is officially in remission from breast cancer and she has a 95% chance the cancer will never come back. Besides the love that I have for my wife and family, the loves of my life are food, wine, and adventure travel. My wife and I love traveling to new places, seeing natural wonders, and meeting new people from different parts of the world. So for the next 400 days…we’ve decided to travel the world…and celebrate our lives. There are so many things I took for granted in life that I will never take for granted again. My father worked for over 30 years at the same job with the same company…rarely took time off…and died at 64 years old right after his retirement. For me, this trip is a combination of a tribute to him, along with wanting to spend the time of my life with the “love of my life.”
* The only thing I will miss while we are gone is our family and friends (who we hope will meet us somewhere throughout our trip) and especially our 3 little kitties we left with my mom in Ohio to catsit for the next 400 days. I will also miss watching “American Football” over the weekend…but I’ll do my best to check the scores in the middle of the night.
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