Thursday, January 8, 2009

And today he sounded....

Good. Really, really good. I spoke to him twice. The first time for only a few minutes before he was called away, telling me he'd call me back. If I had no other conversation with him today, it would have been enough. He sounded strong, alert, just fine. So different than yesterday - amazing what sleep can do. My heart settled after that first call. I hoped he would call me back, but I knew that even if he didn't, I'd gotten enough contact to handle another day, maybe even two.

A while later, he called back. I told him he sounded better, that I'd been worried. They have worked out a schedule that allows them more rest - ready for a longer battle, if need be. The first days were the hardest because they had so much to learn, so much to do.

As I often do, I had just tried his number on a whim, hoping against hope that he'd answer. After the second ring, I thought - wait, it's not supposed to ring. It should have gone straight to his voice mail as it usually does. He answered after the third ring.

He told me about taking showers outdoors (quickly), and sleeping with his coat on. He's a lucky one, he said - he still has clean socks left. Most of the other boys don't. "Worst comes to worse," he told me, "I'll just wash some."

"Are you warm? Do you need anything?" I asked him.

"Some of the guys really need socks. Bank HaPoalim came and donated a pair of socks and scarves for everyone." But there was more, "four guys came down with a car full of mamtakim" [sweets - potato chips and peanut snacks and wafers and everything imaginable].

"We need socks...and maybe thermal pants. The army arranged for us to get mail. I'll SMS you with the information."

"Will I be able to send you brownies?" I asked. Yes, I can send him whatever I want (though it sounds like they have tons of snacks).

I told him that I was saving pictures people had sent me or that I'd found on the Internet for him to see. And then he told me, "one of the guys got an amazing picture. He's going to give it to all of us."

We didn't talk about the soldiers who were killed today. We didn't talk about the mortar that landed in Israel and wounded several soldiers. We did talk about the humanitarian ceasefire that Israel again called today for three hours so that Palestinians could again go out and purchase food and supplies. And while we ceased firing, the Palestinians did not. Several rockets landed in Israel, injuring and damaging.

"We're doing it to show the world," Elie explained, "so they see that we aren't fighting the people."

We talked about the rising number of civilian casualties in Gaza, and about the UN school that was hit, "what did they want us to do? They were firing mortars from there? Why didn't the UN stop them?"

Well, I can't explain that to my son because I don't have any answers myself.

Tomorrow is Friday. I didn't ask Elie if he will be coming home for the Sabbath. His younger sister suddenly cried out yesterday, "I want to talk to Elie." I didn't know what to tell her. I tried explaining that he probably couldn't answer, that we could try. This is the third week that Elie isn't home, longer than almost any other time he's been away but by far, the worst part is not knowing when he will be home. And so we ignore that issue and focus on the smaller goals - a conversation is a gift, enough contact to hold me for another day.

"Try to call me before Shabbat," I said, knowing that it probably wouldn't be in his control and it probably wasn't fair to put this on him. So, I'll focus on today, on now. He sounded so good, strong, morale is high despite the field conditions.

"Breakfast is a bag of chocolate milk and a roll," he told me. That's breakfast?

"For lunch, we get catering." Note that I wrote "catering" in italics? That's because it isn't an English word; it's Hebrew. Sure, it seems to be English...but trust me, it's Hebrew. It means...a hot meal brought to the field that's a world above field rations.

"Dinner is those sandwiches wrapped in plastic bags, you know which ones I mean?" Elie said. Yeah, I know...that's dinner?

But what comes out of today's conversation is so much more than I expected. I finally remembered to ask him questions. He's showering outside - trying to do it during the day so that they can get dressed fast and not be too cold; they are eating food, and even not bad food; he's warm.

We talked about the pressure coming to bear on Israel to agree to a ceasefire. Today, apparently a new draft was offered to Israel - this one actually required the Palestinians to stop firing too. The first one, saying we had to agree to stop firing but the Palestinians didn't have to stop, apparently wasn't well received by our government (and for that great move, I wish to withdraw one of the few thousand times I called the government stupid).

There were so many more things I wanted to tell him, so much more we could have discussed but time was short and so I left him with the most important message of all - that we love him and that he should be safe.

After I closed the phone, I sat in the car for a few minutes. Beyond all the details he told me, the two simplest ones, the two most important ones were that he's getting rest and that he sounded...he sounded good.


brat said...

"...he's getting rest and that he sounded...he sounded good."

And to know that, and to know that YOUR mother's heart is eased..THIS mother gives thanks..

Prayers ongoing = with love.

noble.button said...

Firstly, I'm afraid no mere words I can offer will comfort. I am a mother but not one whose child is a soldier. The biggest battle we've fought together is autism so I can't imagine fighting for my country, my way of life, and my family's very survival. I remember you, your family, and your country daily in prayers. Once again the only words I have of comfort to offer came originally from G-d. May you cling to Him as He always holds you. Isaiah 54:17 says "No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper; and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, and their righteousness is of me, saith the LORD." I think of the tongues of the media and the world when I read this, and remember that they are choosing to condemn themselves when they speak against you with their fabrications and their lies. I hope this may help. Know that I support the IDF, Israel, and all of her people, and I hope on Shabbat that you receive the gift of your son's contact and he the gift of rest, but most of all for your nation the gift of lasting peace not conditionalized with sacrifice.

Belabrava said...

I am glad that you were able to talk to your son and that he sounds good.
My best wishes for you, your family and your son!

Anonymous said...

I think I may have found a picture of ur son, is he religious? Anyway here's the link, I had just read your post and seen his pic and then I saw this on yahoo. It may not be him but to me it looked pretty close.

( )
not sure if the specific pic will load, if not, as of this post it was picture number 32 of 501.

I feel your pain- it's my first time living through a war (or 'operation') in Israel and it doesn't come easy. I haven't seen or heard from my own soldier since the Saturday evening they went into Gaza and it's been a hell of a week.

May we all give each other strength and may our brave loved ones be successful in their mission of protecting the Jewish nation.

racheariel said...

I've been reading your blog for a while, but haven't commented. I also have tried not to read the comments because some of them are so hateful, I can't stand it.
I'm a teacher in a jewish high school in Boston - and we have a knitting club that wants to make scarves for the soldiers. If/when you know of where we can send them, will you please let me know? Hopefully the war will be over before we can finish the scarves, but just in case, it is something that we feel we can do to help.

Anonymous said...

How happy I am for you . It is so reassuring to hear their voices .
Just to hear that 'Hi Mom' from all the way across the world would make the sun shine brighter ,the birds sing louder. And it was easier to take a breath.
Your Elie is in my prayers,as are you.
Marine Mom in Montana

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