Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The Universal Soldier

When Elie went into the army, I knew that others would see him as an Israeli soldier, that the green of his uniform would blind people to the blue of his eyes and more importantly the way he grins, his intelligence, his strength of body and mind. He would be, for all the world, a man with a gun, worse, an Israeli soldier with a gun.

I was prepared, or I thought I was, for the condemnation, automatic and without much base. I was ready for people to send me letters that he was a murderer (and I got those), that he killed innocents (and I got those too). Amazingly enough, what I wasn't prepared for, what shook me to the roots of my soul, was understanding, support, and even love.
There is a whole world of people that fly below the radar in this world, who understand Elie and the boy/man he is. They too love their soldiers, support them and know that many people are blind to the heart behind the green clothes, the eyes that shine with love, the soul that is so much more than the gun.

I am forever amazed by the love and acceptance I have received. In truth, I expected to receive this from other Israeli mothers, from other Israeli fathers. I expected former soldiers to laugh at me, realizing that their mothers once worried as I do and thinking it rather cute...in an oh-so-condescending way. That's what Elie does - he smiles that killer grin of his when he asks me to hold his gun for a second while he does something, or reaches for something.

He knows that I am not so comfortable with these weapons, that I don't know what they can do or what goes where. I know I should learn and I know with equal determination that I don't want to.

So what triggered this universal soldier post - simple - a bunch of universal emails and comments I have received from non-Israeli mothers. They know little of the world I live in, and everything about what I experience as a soldier's mother. They too take life day by day and fight to avoid imagining the worst.

Most of all, they accept Elie as I do - not as a uniform, but as the person he is. If I have learned anything in two years, it is that there is a universality to motherhood that transcends politics and borders.

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