In a Darkened Seventh-floor Room

Soon, the heir will take Ariel Sharon's seat at the table, toward which he has avoided even a glance so far, as if it were the electric chair.

Now, as he lays there in his twilight on the seventh floor of the hospital, I think about him more. I also grew closer to Menachem Begin as he distanced himself, an absentee who is present, a person here but absent, living dead, dead living, gone and asleep - his complex soul closed in on him, never to open again. A person protective of their image will stay away from bands and choruses and entourages, and will instead approach the forlorn and forgotten places.

I have sympathy for abandoned people in Jerusalem, who only have their families still standing around their bed, taking care of them; VIPs perhaps are seen more in the sorrowful hour of their abandonment. Only yesterday, there was about them the working ruckus of those who carried their bags, and now the bags are scattered. A deafening silence replaces the hoopla, and in a darkened room on the seventh floor one can only hear the humming and rumbling of the artificial respirator.

I think about him more nowadays, precisely because the flow of visitors has ceased, his two sons have been appointed his guardians, the news about his condition has been moved to the inside pages, to the margins, and the temporary acting prime minister is already being treated as the prime minister, people aren't always sticking to his official title as temporary acting prime minister, and the succession is self-evident, as if there is no more natural a successor than he.

The question of the big shoes to fill is no longer important and terribly bothersome, and it is possible to reach the following conclusion: More than a person fits or doesn't fit their new shoes, the shoes adjust themselves to the necessary size.

Soon, the heir will take Ariel Sharon's seat at the table, toward which he has avoided even a glance so far, as if it were the electric chair. That will come soon, but not before the lemon is squeezed to the final sound that still floats and flutters opposite the empty seat of honor. Here and there, at appropriate times, the name of the patient will continue to be mentioned, as from his family he came and to his family returned, in the best of cases. Maybe the name is still worth something in the market, because there are buyers who still prefer a name over their own.

Getting used to it, how quickly one gets used to it. The period of political orphanage is always much shorter than for ordinary people. They won't say so explicitly, but this is what they are essentially saying: Israel is not helpless, and any one of us can do the job - and they are right, judging by the pictures of the candidates.

The captain is very sick and in his cabin, sunk in a deep coma, and the chief officer, the first mate on the deck, has taken command. Meanwhile, at the stern, the old captain's grandchild appears, a small child, calling out to the sleeping man - Grandpa, get up, grandpa, get up already - and the grandfather blinks, and even opens his eyes for a split second and again they are closed. According to some reports, grandpa even shed a tear.

The doctors hurried to discount the opening of the eyes, the blink and even the tear. "There is no evidence of any significant improvement in the situation," they opined.

But with all due respect, this time I will disagree with them. The doctors look into the eyes, but someone must also see the heart. It can't be, it's simply impossible, that the grandfather can't hear the pleas of his grandchild; an angel created the pleadings of a grandson, and they are always heard and obeyed. And it's impossible that he didn't weep, the grandfather.

I have my own view about people who spend a long time in a coma, no matter what the doctors say. True, they aren't here with us, the sleeping and the put to sleep, but they are also not there, and it is possible a special place is set aside for them, not here, nor there, a special place that is in between, in the twilight, a kind of two-way limbo.

And if the right voice of a loved one is chosen and at the right moment is heard, it is still possible to reach them and move them, not only us, and perhaps even bring them back. That is my diagnosis, and only I am responsible for it, and I am convinced that there's something to it.

Now I think about him more, while in his room with its blinds and curtains on the seventh floor they play him the Mozart he loved, so that he may finally awaken.

Just this week is the 250th birthday of the composer who lives on to this day. Mozart and Sharon in the same room, the creator and the politician together in the requiem darkness, the farmer like a passing shadow, the poet as immortal; as if to remind us, all of us, who can be replaced and who cannot and never will be, and who will never, ever rest in full cemeteries.