It's been three and a half weeks since Elie was able to come home. He's exhausted, filthy, thinner. He's gotten even darker from being outside. He's tired, he's hungry - God, he's never looked better.
He is so beautiful, I don't have words. Anyway, he's fine. He has the holiday and Shabbat home and has to go back to his base Saturday night (instead of Sunday morning). Most of his unit had to stay up north, but he was one of the lucky ones. I can't imagine what the holiday would have been like without him. There are several holidays coming in the next month. Most of the remaining ones, Elie will likely have to stay in the army, unless things calm down significantly on the Syrian front and things don't heat up further on the Gaza front.
The news is scary. According to Kuwaiti and Lebanese sources, Syria is mobilizing its troops. It went from the glorious claim of victory (having claimed it chased Israeli planes out of its air space) to embarrassment (CNN and other sources are claiming Israeli planes hit a convoy of weapons from Iran that were destined for Hizbollah. Others claim Israel hit some nuclear installations that were being set up by Syria and Iran.). Whatever the story, it is clear there is no victory for Syria. Whatever Israeli planes did that night, they left, again according to CNN, a huge hole in the desert.
So chances are, Elie won't make it home for most or all of the rest of the holidays, but that's more than I can think about now. For now - Elie's home. He's clean, he's eaten his favorite foods, I've got homemade cookies and brownies cooling so I can pack them for him to take back...and he's resting in his own room, in his own bed, in his own clothes, surrounded by a family that is so grateful to have him home safe. His younger sister made him a little card and put it next to his room welcoming him home. As with the last time he was gone for so long, she asked about him and when he came home, stayed by him just a little longer, held his hand just a little bit tighter. She's gotten used to the idea that Elie is in the army.
Amazingly enough, at only 7, she already has some understanding of what this means. She says she prays for him. She has a friend whose brother was killed while serving in the army. The young girl doesn't remember him at all. The concept frightened my youngest child enough to worry and ask questions about where Elie is and when he'll be home. When she heard he was already on a bus and would be home soon, she smiled and said she'd like to make him a picture. At 7, things are so simple.
Elie arrived to hugs and smiles. It was quickly apparent that he didn't want a fuss to be made. For him, it was a regular time away, if perhaps a little longer than he expected. For me, I've learned yet another lesson to add to the so many I've learned so far. He can't understand, he must never know how much we worry, how frightened we are. He is lucky because at every moment, he knows where he is, knows he is fine but worrying about us worrying about him can't help the situation. So, for now, his mind is clear.
Elie's home. Did I mention how beautiful he looks? Just don't tell him I said so, despite all the maturity...he'd still never understand being called beautiful!