Monday, November 23, 2015

The Last Supper...

Sorry, I couldn't resist that title and most thankfully of all, it certainly wasn't.

We went out to dinner tonight with almost all our children and two of our in-law children and two of three of our grandchildren. We missed Elie and Lauren and little Michal - my fault...I left the planning too late and plans made couldn't be changed and it's hard with a young child. There are ages when they are "portable" and ages when they are less so. So, almost all of us went out to dinner for the purpose of gathering for one last supper before David goes to the army tomorrow.

We came in four different cars...Amira and her husband and two boys; Shmulik and his wife; my husband volunteers for the police so was supposed to come late but his training session was canceled and so he arrived in our older car while I drove with David and Aliza, the first car to arrive.

On the way there, I couldn't believe it - Davidi was teasing Aliza - laughing and shining his flashlight into the mirror and back into her eyes. She screeched as only a teenager can; he laughed even harder.

It was, I knew, a release of tension - a letting go, and a holding on at the same time. The boy was there, I realized. He'd come with us to the dinner and I cherished seeing him again, knowing that in the days to come, the man will be what will be shown to the world. I tried to be stern and not laugh, but it was impossible. "How old are you?" I asked him - and he smiled again, as he swiveled the mirror to take aim.

Dinner was a wonderful treat - a few hours of talking. Yosef, Amira's oldest son, was cuddled by just about everyone but I had to turn away when Davidi hugged him as we were leaving. His siblings wished him well - there aren't many words that can be said at a time like this and so you rush through it.

I don't remember packing for either Elie or Shmulik. I'd have to ask them if they did it on their own or I helped. We got home late and so I told David to bring me everything. I would pack things up while he got ready and this way we'd both get some sleep before we have to get up early to leave for the drop-off point.

He brought me all the new clothes, the various things that need to be packed, and a basket full of his laundry. I folded everything and handed him back the things that aren't going. They will give him uniforms to wear and he will come home wearing it. From home to base and base to home, he will be a soldier and will wear the uniform. I told him to put the folded laundry neatly in his closet.

He thought that was rather amusing. Apparently, he prefers to keep his clean laundry in the basket and doesn't bother with the more civilized use of shelves. "Put them on a shelf," I told him. I'm half inclined to go up and check if he did.

So he's all packed and soon he'll go to sleep...we are hours away...I hope he will sleep...I'm not sure I will.

It's after midnight - I can't even say that he will become a soldier tomorrow. It's so easy to deal with tomorrow...but now it is today and the time has come. Today, he will be a soldier. Today he will leave home and put on the uniform of the State of Israel. Today it begins. The army is merciful - for this first time, I know that he will be home in just five days.

I won't think now about the times that he will go when I won't know. I won't think now...and I will not cry in front of him. I won't...please God, give me that much strength at least.

Let me hug him and smile and let him go...tomorrow I can cry...just not today.

Anyone who thinks that we Israeli mothers are happy that our sons become soldiers is insane. There is pride, of course, but there is no joy. I can't say I would give anything to avoid this moment because that's not true. There is no avoiding it...not until there is, when a 21-year-old girl was stabbed and murdered...when five were injured yesterday and five murdered in terror attacks the day before...there is no peace in the near future.

And so son will become a soldier so that maybe in the tomorrows that come, other sons won't have to.

Please God, watch over David Levi ben Penina - may he go in safety and health and may he return in safety and in health each and every day until he too can take off the uniform he will put on in a few hours.

Please God, please...

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