Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Six Days and Counting

I'm back to where I was 8 years ago with a son about to enter the army. I know so much more now than I did then, and still I feel that I know so little. I'm not handling this nearly as well as I should be.

Last night, we did the shopping. Green t-shirts, green thermals. A laundry bag. Socks. It's the third time I've been to the store for this reason and each time, I look at the long list the store has printed - their recommendations for what every soldier needs. And I listen to the store attendants - young men and women who have served, who smile at the list and say, no...he doesn't need that. Or, don't buy that yet. Or, buy this one - it's the best...or it's cheaper and definitely good enough.

With a code word, we tell them what colors Davidi needs to buy. Givati. Yakov was Givati...my first experience with the army...at least for the ceremonies. We went to Latrun once...or maybe it was twice. It was the first time I met his future bride - who is now the mother of Yakov's beautiful three little girls. I was worried the first time I met her - would she understand and accept Yakov's love of Israel...I had no idea how well she knew him, what an amazing wife she would be. That she would support his need to live here...and so they do.

Yakov smiled when I told him that Davidi was going into Givati. Chaim made a comment and everyone laughed. I'm being so silly about this.

In some ways, the words are easier now because they've already been written. Last time, I felt...this time, I go along knowing that I should be feeling this way. Mostly, though, I feel dread. I just don't want to do this again.

I met a mother in the store watching as her son tried on shirts and got a similar pile of things. I saw her again and told her about a group I'm in for parents of IDF soldiers - this is my 6th she said. Her 6th soldier...how silly that I feel the need to fall apart with my third.

So since I can't really express what I am feeling...I'll share with you what I felt...now it is 6 days before that moment when David walks off and I can't follow; last time, it was 7 days before Elie was going to go.

What I wrote then...where I'm heading now:
I don't believe wisdom necessarily comes with age, but fear certainly does. The older we are, the more we learn to fear. When I was expecting my first child, and my second, and even my third, I was too young to fear, to understand that we aren't always blessed with beautiful, healthy babies. Only as I got older did I realize what an incredible miracle each child was.      --Sunday, March 18, 2007
"Older" means when I was expecting David. I had three beautiful children, I was living in the land I always dreamed would be my home. What right did I have to ask for more...to ask for another child to be born health and whole...and there I was...pregnant and terrified.
Now, with age, comes the reality that just as we are given this incredible gift, we must cherish it and watch over it at all times. This becomes hard to do when the child goes off to a new place, leaving you to wonder and worry.
Elie does not seem to be afraid; this is a stage in his life, an experience. Many boys love the army. It gives them direction, training, companionship and life-long friends. Only we mothers focus on the more serious aspects of where our sons will go and what they will do. We are the ones left crippled behind as they soar in triumph. They are free of their studies, free of daily routine.      --Sunday, March 18, 2007
Davidi too seems calm and aware. He's spoken to his brothers, planned out what to buy, what will happen in those first days.
Life is new and exciting for them. Responsibilities come with trust. The state of Israel puts its faith and its love into its soldiers. They are treated with love as they travel from place to place. People stop to give them rides or hand them candy and food when they are on patrol. It is a love affair that never ages. There are few countries, if any, in the world who can claim the relationship that Israel has with its soldiers. Each is a son of the nation and the whole nation celebrates and mourns together when it comes to our soldiers.      
Perhaps, despite the worries, my son is right. This is an adventure, a new road he will take. I should be excited for him. I should be (and I am) very proud of him. In other countries, 19 year old boys are drinking and driving and focusing on girls. It will be years before they grow up while here in Israel, they are given responsibility, life and death decisions.    
In a matter of a few weeks, my son will come home with a gun and the training to know when to use it and when not to use it. He will be given responsibilities to protect whole communities and our country. All this on the head of a soon-to-be 20 year old. He celebrates this time while I quietly mourn the boy he will leave behind.
                 --Sunday, March 18, 2007
And changing this now for David...As David sees the adventure ahead....
...I take one last look at the boy knowing that all too soon, the army will return him to me as a man, having experienced new and exciting things, having gone where I've never gone, done what I've never done. He'll hold people's lives in his hands and learn things I never dreamed he would need to know.
 They'll teach him the human side of war - our responsibility to avoid civilian casualties when possible and even to endanger his life to protect our citizens (and the citizens of other lands). He will learn how to defend himself, how to recognize the enemy and how to react. All this is new to him and it will change him, as it does each boy because in the end, he will be not just a boy, not just a man, but a soldier too.
I have no right to complain - I like the men that my sons have become and I already love the man inside of Davidi...but here I am, eight years later still dreading that moment when he will go off and I will remain behind...I dread the week until he returns and knowing that in the not too distant future, I will again be wondering where he is, what he is doing and when I will see him again. For now, for the next six nights, he will sleep in my home. I will listen to him settling in his room above mine and smile when he drops something loud enough that I can hear it. These sounds comfort me for now.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hashem yishmor

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