"Good night, Elie" I heard on the phone tonight as I was talking to my son.
"Do they want to go to sleep?" I asked...as the same voice called out "good night" to another soldier in the unit.
"No, they just get loud the night before they go home," Elie answered.
It's the night before Elie comes home. This time, it was "only" two weeks. Last week, when Elie called Saturday night, he realized he should have spoken to his sister. Her intense welcome week before had effected him as much as it did me. He realized that she "needed" the contact with him and he'd planned to speak to her, but then forgotten in the few minutes before it was time to start the Sabbath here.
Tonight, Elie gets to sleep 7 hours, an extra treat before they come home. Tomorrow he will likely arrive early. As I expected would happen, he has settled into a routine of army life and one of the certainties is uncertainty. The date of his upcoming ceremony marking the end of his basic training hasn't really been finalized (it's one of two days in the coming weeks). The location where he will continue is training on the next level is also not certain. It has been moved to one location and then to another. Greater issues keep the upper military leadership occupied while Elie and his unit continue to train.
For me, I'm just glad that he is coming home tomorrow and anxious to have him spend time with his family. Hearing his friends call out wishing him a good night, even in jest, reminded me of the old Walton's television show of my youth, when each of the members of the Walton family called out "Good night, Jason"; "Good night, Elizabeth"; "Good night, John Boy."
It was a show about a family, of their love for each other and how they met each challenge together as a unit. That's what I wish for Elie when he is not with us - that he be among family, that they learn to care about each other and that they learn to meet each challenge that fate has in store for them.