Wednesday, February 21, 2007

"The" Letter

The final draft call letter has arrived. The list of items the army will provide is a startling reminder that my son is entering the army. They will give him a set number of shirts, undershirts, socks, underwear, pants, shirts (uniforms), etc.

You wouldn't expect any different, but for a mother about to send her first son off to the army, you can't help wondering who will give him love and warmth. Love and warmth. It is something my son takes for granted and would certainly scorn if anyone expressed the idea that he would need such things. He remains, before the army, a teenage boy. I have no doubt the army will turn him into "a man," though I will mourn the loss of the boy.

Already, as a frequent and "mature" volunteer in the local ambulance squad, he has seen things that I have never seen. I have (thank God), never had someone die in my arms or beside me as I tried to save his life. I'm not sure I'd even know what to do and yet Elie handles it all with grace and leadership. I believe he will do well in the army (if they don't crush him first...and perhaps even if they do). The army is known to crush the individual within you in many ways - it is the nature of an army, any army, all armies, and the Israeli army is no different.

But the Israeli army is known to build you back up - better than you were before, stronger, more decisive. I have no doubts that Elie can handle the army and will probably even love it, as many boys do. He is, at 19, so incredibly self-sufficient. He cooks - he's one of the best in the family. Rice, chicken, omelets, noodles with sauces - whatever it is, Elie is not afraid to try cooking. He does his own laundry (doesn't trust me not to lose his socks).

But there is, within me, the concern for the person deep inside him. Elie doesn't need to share his emotions and so I try to pull them out of him at times. I guess one of my fears is that no one in the army will be there to do that.

His commanding officer is scheduled to come to our home Saturday night. He will talk to Elie in preparation for what is to come. This is so typical of the Israeli army - the personal touch, the outreach. I am hoping that it will help me as well as Elie adjust to what is to come.

Perhaps the greatest injustice...and this whole process is that my oldest daughter is getting married just two weeks before Elie goes into the army. This helps me focus on other things, but it also doesn't allow us all to focus completely on Elie - for the good and the bad.

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