If you made a list of things you don't want your children to ever see, I think death and war would be right at the top. On the one hand, I don't want to feel like a failure as a mother, on the other hand, my sons have known both.
Elie went to war...if you've never had a son go to war, I can honestly and openly say that you probably have no idea what that is like. The all consuming terror that lives with you every moment. I slept more than one night holding my phone in my hand, desperate to hear from him, even more desperate to have it not ring with someone telling me he had been hurt. I waited for him to come home and wondered if I would have to put the pieces back together. But it didn't break him. He came back with the strong (and proper) conviction that he had done what he had to do. He was a soldier, tasked with protecting his country, his people, his land.
We were being attacked by hundreds of rockets - to stop it, we went to war. Within the scope of that war, he and his fellow soldiers did all they could do - to stop the attacks while avoiding civilian casualties on both sides. My son knows war. Other than hearing it through the phone a few times, I don't really have more than a slight sense of what it was like. Two rocket attacks on the Jerusalem area sent us flying to bomb shelters but these were not sustained attacks lasting throughout days and nights as in the south.
I don't know if it was the first time, probably not, but I remember very clearly being at a client's office in the north when my husband told me that Elie had been driving, saw an old woman collapse, and immediately pulled over to begin CPR. He kept at it until the ambulance came, but the woman was very old and she didn't make it. I was terrified how Elie took this and wanted to come running home. My husband and I talked as I drove and I asked him how Elie was and what he has said to him.
The love of my life said the most amazing thing to our oldest son. For the rest of their lives, he told our son, this family will know that it was their mother's time to go. That nothing more could have been done to save her; that it wasn't an issue of someone having gotten there sooner. Elie was okay with what had happened - but in that moment, I knew that my son had met death.
Two nights ago, Davidi volunteered on the Intensive Care ambulance, having passed his training course a few weeks ago. On their way back from one run, they were called to another. A 30 year old man had collapsed at a wedding and though the paramedics (and Davidi) tried to bring him back, he died. Davidi went into details about what happens to a dead body after its life ends. I let him talk.
Amazingly enough, he got to the same concept as my husband did with Elie. There was a medic at the wedding and others within meters away. The minute the man fell to the ground, there were people trying to help him. Nothing more could have been done. He was born with a heart defect; God gave him just over 30 years of life.
As Davidi spoke, I watched him - he's taller than me, stronger than me. He's so smart and he has gorgeous blue eyes. His room is a mess and he hasn't yet learned to find the amazing depths he is capable of reaching. As Elie was when I started this blog...Davidi is on the edge of tomorrow.
And I am amazed that even with my fourth child, God is telling me there is still much to learn as a parent. We can't shelter our children. God knows, we've tried. It still hurts though, deep down inside, to know that we want our children to know only happiness, life, and sunshine.
Once, when my children were very young and one of them walked into something and was cut - enough to know that he'd have a scar, I told my husband, "We give birth to these perfect little things and they go through life messing it up and collecting scars!" More and more, I see that the scars on the outside are nothing to the scars on the inside.
No, that's not true exactly. They aren't scarred by these experiences, they are strengthened by them. Maybe that's the point here. In dealing with that which could weaken them, they build themselves into better people, kinder people, more caring.
And yet, the heart of the mother inside me still wishes it didn't have to be that way...