Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Are you really a soldier's mother?

It was an interesting question that I was asked today. Yes, I answered, I am a soldier's mother and then proceeded to explain about Yaakov and Elie, Chaim and Shmulik (in age order so they can't complain). I went to a networking breakfast (Jeff Pulver, for those of you who may wonder) at an amazing hotel (Inbal Hotel) in Jerusalem today and met a lot of people.

It was fun, it was interesting. Met great people; heard some great ideas. I often plan to go to these meetings and then find myself out of time. This time it worked and I couldn't believe how much I enjoyed the event. Beyond technical writing and the upcoming MEGAComm conference that I'm busy coordinating, there is this other world reality that is my life.

But what always amazes me, touches me, strengthens me, is the reality that I am really A soldier's mother - one of so many here and around the world. For each mother, there is a soldier. And the soldier remains long after he leaves the army. What of the mother? Does she remain a soldier's mother after her son's leave? I don't know - I'm beginning to think the answer is yes. At least here in Israel. There are decades of reserve duty ahead of me. Already I cringe when Elie gets a letter in the mail from the army. They will call him; he will go. That is the one reality I know awaits.

I was talking to two men today about what they do - and somehow Chaim being a lone soldier came into the discussion. "I was a lone soldier too," one man explained. And yet, when he was a lone soldier, he was much more alone. Mothers share what unit their sons serve in; fathers remember their army days.

It went like this throughout the morning - in some ways, I guess I'm a magnet for it because it is so much a part of my life. It is that part that never shuts down, never dares to rest except when my boys are with me. Yesterday I saw a news article and called Chaim before I had even finished reading it.

"How are things?" I asked him in that voice I think they already know. I can hear their minds working as they try to figure out what I want, why I am calling.

"Fine," he answered.

Nothing was new. He's fine. What I'd forgotten was that he wasn't even near the area where the rocks were being thrown; that he's on a training exercise. Only as we were talking did the words "reserve soldier" pop out  at me from the screen. No, it wasn't Chaim. It wasn't his unit. It wasn't even the standing army. A reserve soldier in a place that Chaim doesn't even know; only identified by the nearest Palestinian city but still not even in his patrol. Lightly injured, treated on the spot. Nothing to worry about - thankfully, and with much gratitude, not even Chaim. It's so silly that I thought I had to worry and yet that's that part of me that seems to always have one part on the panic button.

A soldier was hurt in Hebron last week and I wondered where Shmulik was, if it was one of his friends who are stationed there. And that brought back a night when I was celebrating our wedding anniversary hours and hours away...and I got a message of a terrorist attack. I turned on the news to see an artillery soldier, and another and another. Twenty-three were injured that night, some critically...and I was so sure the attack had nothing to do with Elie. I was convinced that Elie would have told me if he was going to be in Jerusalem.

But it was Elie's group, I learned later that night, even if he wasn't there. I'd thought he was on the checkpoint; only after he left the army did he laugh and ask me how I could think such a thing. Apparently, it is known that the army doesn't switch teams at that hour (well, how was I supposed to know that?). Only later did I find out what he was really doing that night (and I thought I had nothing to worry about!). And yet, for all the mistaken times I worried, I am reminded that this is what makes me a "real" soldier's mother, one of so many, so blessed.

It's a pleasant evening in Israel - not a cloud in the sky. Wherever they sleep tonight, may all our sons be safe and warm and loved. I am one of so many - a group that has welcomed me into their midst and now allows me to welcome others. A soldier's mother.


Shanah said...

As always, thank you so much.

jan said...

Even though I am not officially a soldier's mother (not yet anyway), I hold my breath every time I read the Israeli newspapers in the morning, praying that all of the precious young men and women defending Israel are safe. When something terrible happens, I kiss the picture of the soldiers on my screen, I love each and every one of them as if they were my own. My screen saver is a picture of a group of soldiers sitting in front of the Yad Vashem, a gorgeous group of 18 and 19 year olds. I pray for their health and safety every time I see the photo. Behind every soldier stands a mother worrying about him....and likewise, many many more people around the world who also love and respect the soldiers as if they were their own children. Bless them all.

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