What hasn't changed with having a second son in the army versus a first son...is the missing. Last night, Shmulik's aunt and uncle returned to America after a nice family holiday together. Shmulik was home for the Shabbat before Passover, home for the much of the holiday, and will, amazingly enough, be home this weekend as well.
But last night, they left, and as a going away event, we decided to take the whole family out to a restaurant (with thanks to my sister-in-law who ended up taking us rather than us taking them). For me, after days and days of cooking, it was a nice break. At first, I thought Elie might decide not to come, but he did, along with my oldest daughter and son-in-law.
It was really nice - we sat around and talked. We played a table game where someone thinks of something in the room and others have to guess what it is. My youngest daughter never tires of it; my older daughter was close to begging us to stop. The kids loved the bell on the table (I apologized to the waitress and the neighboring table). We changed the order a dozen times, ordered more things as we went along.
We sampled each others dishes, talked about everyday things and nothing much at all. It was just a nice night out...and Shmulik wasn't there. That aspect of having a child in the army never fades, never dims. It wasn't a crippling or depressing feeling, it wasn't nearly as strong as it was once. We had a great time - much laughing, good food, smiles. It was something more than a footnote for the evening, but nothing close to ruining or lessening the fun. I guess it was...just a feeling.