Basic training is a mindset, a learning experience. The army doesn't quite expect the soldier to be a soldier yet, but this is the way they start. Elie glided through basic training, as Chaim seems to be (despite a scorpion sting which I found out about later). Shmulik was having a rougher time. So unexpected, but a reminder that each "child" is unique.
I'd forgotten so much.
Elie went into the army, a boy on the verge of being a man. I thought I wouldn't write this, but I guess I will. Last night, we went to a wedding - beautiful bride, happy groom, thrilled parents on all sides. It was a beautiful wedding both in the amazing setting - in the hills just outside Jerusalem, in the forest, among the trees. It was a combination of Israel, the best we have to offer in many ways. The groom comes from a Russian family; the bride comes from an American family. Together, they speak Hebrew and their friends and guests reflected this mixing of cultures.
We sat with friends and at one point, the topic turned to Elie and what he is doing now and what he plans in the coming months.
"Will he return to the army?" the friend asked.
"50/50" I answered, but I don't even think it is that much. I explained that though part of me wanted Elie to stay in the army for another year, it was never something I could have voiced. Had he stayed, has something happened...deep inside my heart and head, I admit, I would never have been able to live with myself. He has to choose his path. It's a moment for a mother, a letting go. He's all grown up. Whatever job I did with him...I now have to trust.
"He's a man now," I said to the friend and with a smile, he answered, "and he's a real man."
That's what the army did for Elie, as much as time and life. That's what, I have to trust, they are doing for Shmulik. It's harder for me this time. Perhaps because of personalities, perhaps for other reasons. Physically, Shmulik was probably in better shape than Elie when he went in to the army. I don't remember Elie really running or doing more than lifting weights before he went into the army. Shmulik went for long walks, ran often, lifted weights, went swimming.
And yet, Shmulik has had a harder time acclimating. I don't know why. Perhaps Elie "fell" into great commanders. Never once did he feel that the commanders didn't care about him and his success. I don't know the reason, but this morning, after not speaking to Shmulik for a few days (I sent him a text message, but had not heard back), I decided to give him a call.
I really didn't expect to reach him, and yet he answered. He sounded tired (that's what you get when you wake them up), but he sounded good. He's been with his unit, doing well, participating. For him, that's a good step and leaves me hopeful.
In a week, we will attend Shmulik's Tekes Ha'ashbaa at the Western Wall...it will be...it will be amazing because this will be the moment when all my moments come together. I'll write about that another time, soon - for now, I look forward to that, to watching him promise to defend this land...standing before the holiest place in Judaism, a symbol of all we were, all we are, and all we will be.
For now, I'll thank God for this moment, these children, this life, and this land. I'll go back to my work...yes, I should have been editing that manual and not blogging...and I'll know there is no where I would rather be and nothing I'd rather be doing - than living here, this family, this life...this land.