I'm amazed that more than 2 years after Elie left Israel's standing army, there are still stories to come out. Elie's eyes were hurting him tonight. He was blinking them non-stop and rubbing them. He's been taking a course in preparation for starting college in the Fall. He'll be studying engineering, another wonderful direction that came out of the army. He leaves class and comes home to hours of homework and study, only to begin again the next day.
He's taking a math course and a physics course, plus he had a huge test this week. He did very well, but it's been long hours and he came downstairs tonight to tell me he wanted to go to the mall to buy some eye drops. He said he needed a saline solution and then he started his story.
When he was in the army, he was handing out a bunch of night sticks to the soldiers. I actually forgot what the purpose was - but each needed it and Elie was making sure that each night stick worked properly. When one officer came to him, Elie took a night stick and cracked it to release the liquid to start the illumination. There must have been something wrong with the stick - or Elie cracked it too hard because the plastic cracked and squirted him in the eye.
Elie told me how he held his eye and went to the medic. The medic wasn't sure what to do, or perhaps wasn't reacting fast enough to please him, so Elie reached over to the chair and grabbed the medic's vest. He has three of these vests - they have tons of pockets, all organized with medical equipment. Elie uses them regularly - has them in each car, and makes sure they are fully stocked.
He opened a pocket and found the saline solution and then washed his eye while the medic stood there and watched. He gestured to show how he held his eye opened, and washed the eye until the burning stopped, a few more times and again in the day or so that followed.
He told his story - oblivious to what I was feeling inside as he described this incident; the thought of him hurt, of his taking command and treating himself. That is so typical of Elie - to do what has to be done, to figure it out and just do it. Tonight, he went to the pharmacy and the pharmacist gave him some eye drops.
"What about a saline solution?" Elie asked.
The man thought it was a good idea and gave him that as well and Elie returned home and then put the drops in his eyes. There are other stories that have come out - some can't be told on a blog; some I'll write soon. Mostly, I just accept them as fillers that were missing; holes that I may not even know existed at the time.
I drove a soldier home the other night, a friend's son going my way, and we got to talking about what he tells his mother and what he doesn't. He told me about running in a field, chasing some terrorists who had attacked cars on a road. The brush was very high; the night was very dark. He didn't see a hole in the ground and fell and twisted his leg. They took him to the hospital; evacuated him by helicopter.
Only when he was at the hospital did he call his mother; she knows he was hurt, but not how or where. He could tell me, but she'll only hear about it in a few years, after he leaves the army. Then, as with Elie now, much of what he didn't tell me then, will come out. I don't envy that boy's mother - then again, I don't know what other stories Elie has within him so perhaps I don't envy myself either.
We travel this road with our sons but the eyes are theirs, not ours. We see only what they will let us see, when they let us see it. Tonight, another glimpse and a reminder that Elie is home safe. Whatever was...is in the past. His eyes are fine despite spraying caustic chemicals in them; his ears are fine despite the explosions of the missiles being shot from the massive armored personnel carriers during the war; he's home safe.