Well, Elie didn't get home this weekend, but his smelly laundry did.
He called me Saturday night to tell me that a boy from our neighborhood was going home for a doctor's appointment. Elie had tried to wash his uniforms but apparently, after several days in the field, he just couldn't get them clean. Rather than try to wash them again, he decided to send them home. He's coming home this weekend, and he doesn't need this set before then, so he asked the friend to bring home his uniform to be washed in a machine (rather than by hand, as he can do up there).
So - Elie didn't make it home this weekend, but his uniforms are spinning in the soapy water. It's a funny thing, a strange comfort. I'll run them through twice - they often need that extra run to really get the dirt out and then I'll hang them out to dry. In the US, most people use dryers, but here in Israel, the sun is so strong and the air so dry, clothes will often dry faster on the line than in a machine and there's something so fresh about sun-dried clothes!
Then, I'll fold them and put them on his bed...such a silly thing to mean so much to me. Elie will never think twice - oh, he'll thank me, but, well - he's never been a mother, has he? There is so little I can really do for him. I'm too far away to keep him company if he's lonely (and really, what young man would turn to his mother for that?). I don't have to cook for him - though I guess the homemade cakes and cookies do count for something.
I can't advise him on paths to choose and decisions to make - they are his alone and half the time, I don't really understand the ramifications of the decisions anyway. So here, in an easy way, Elie has unknowingly handed me a little thing I can do to help, to feel connected. Silly, no? But there you go.