Tuesday, November 24, 2015

That First Picture

You'd think with a third son going into the army that there would be no firsts. I should have known that wasn't true. David was my first child born in Israel. He is my third son, my fourth child. In many ways, he's followed the others - the second in Hesder, the fourth to join the ambulance squad.

He was the first to go to a "sleep away" school, the second to be become a Bnei Akiva youth counselor. He was the first to become a trainer for new ambulance volunteers; the fourth to take a course to handle a multiple casualty incident.

Sometimes the second, sometimes the third, rarely the first and always the fourth...that's David. What surprised me yesterday was how much I needed that first picture. It made it real; it filled my eyes with tears.

At first, all I wanted was to make it through the morning without tears - and this is what I succeeded in doing. I didn't cry and I was so proud of myself. He left with a hug and a kiss, easy and fast and I really thought I was fine. And then I saw the picture I had begged him to send me and I began to cry. I still do when I look at it. He's smiling; he's good...and yet my eyes fill with tears.

So I decided that each son is a first, each child a first. And it made me think back to those other firsts.
As I begin again this journey no mother really wants to take...I'll stop for a second and show you the firsts of each.

Elie - - as he entered the artillery division. The first picture of him in uniform was when he came home ten or so days later. He'd told me about the uniform, but this was the first chance I got to see him in it. Note the white t-shirt - these are the "travel" uniforms, dressier than the others.

Shmulik - - entered one of the ground forces units as Davidi has. In Shmulik's case, it was Kfir and he sent me that first picture from the bus - it looks like he took it himself...and he didn't smile.

And finally yesterday, David sent me his first picture. I can't really explain what made me cry. The truth is...he's smiling, he's happy. It looks like a bunch of them stood together and took that picture - a joint one of all the boys from his yeshiva - all going into the army together and then he cut his picture out and sent it.

It's kind of funny because it looks like his beard is really long (when really, it's the hair on his neck that looks like it is part of his beard). He doesn't look nearly as tired as I expected, given that he only went to bed in the early morning hours of the night...and then was up again at 6:00 a.m.

In many ways, he is a combination of his brothers - he's got the look of Elie, with the blue eyes; the shape of Shmulik's eyes. He is completely his own person in so many ways and somehow he looks so much older than he did in the morning when he left with a backpack on his shoulder, dressed in jeans and a t-shirt.

Suddenly, the boy from the night before has emerged as the man he will be. I can see that man in this picture and it startled me a bit. I wasn't ready to see him and I also didn't realize how beautiful he would be.

I must have looked at this picture a hundred times already and each time I keep thinking simply that he is mine and I'm very proud of him.

On Facebook, Shmulik wrote him a most beautiful note. It isn't easy, it seems, to watch your younger brother go into the army, step forward to protect this land. It isn't easy, I can tell you, to send three sons to the army not knowing where they are, what they are doing.

At the end of the day yesterday, I thought to myself, one day down. The first picture is done...now I begin the countdown to the one I want to take on his last day in the army - safe, healthy, happy, tall, beautiful...and still mine.

May God watch over David Levi ben Penina...and all the soldiers of Israel.

No comments:

Copyright Statement

Everything on this site is protected and copyrighted according to Israeli and international laws. Violators WILL be prosecuted.

For permission to use pictures or text from this site, please write to: info@paulasays.com.