No, Elie doesn’t know Gilad. They’ve never met. Gilad is actually a bit older than Elie; he entered the army several months before. Like Elie, he was 19 years old when he entered and then, within a few months after he’d finished his basic training, he was kidnapped, and the clock stopped for Gilad and his family in so many ways.
Gilad’s army friends have completed their army service and left the army – Gilad still serves the state of Israel, though after three years, it is unlikely Hamas has left him much of the physical uniform he was wearing on the day he was attacked and dragged across into Gaza.
Someone asked – what have you done in the last three years? How has your life changed while Gilad has been held prisoner? Not once has the Red Cross managed to see him, not once was he allowed to talk to his parents, not once have his parents been told without question that he is alive and well.
What have I done in the last three years?
- My daughter got married and I welcomed my son-in-law into our family.
- Two of my sons finished high school.
- One son started a post high-school program and will enter the army in March.
- One son was bar mitzvahed.
- One daughter went to first grade, and second, and third.
- We sold a house.
- We bought a home.
- One dog died, we got another.
- We got a bunch of birds – five more were born in the house.
- I bought two new cars, sold one older one.
- One adopted son got married and now has a baby girl.
- And one son went into the army, completed his basic and advanced training, and became a commander and now a First Sergeant.
Like Elie, Gilad chose to serve in a combat unit. Gilad could have refused because his medical profile was border-line. Elie wasn’t given that option, never thought to ask for it. Elie has grown stronger in the months and years of his service – I can’t let my mind begin to imagine what physical shape Gilad is in without tears filling my eyes.
Along with someone else I have never met (@carolw), a campaign was started this week to try to bring world attention to Gilad. It’s silly really, in the scope of nations and powers…what can we do? Well, we are tweeting. See, I told you it would be silly. We are typing 140 character messages asking people tomorrow to think of Gilad, pray for him, and tweet with the #Gilad hashtag that tallies the numbers and rates them.
- We’re trying to get #Gilad to #1 trending topic on Thursday – 3 yrs since he was kidnapped! Please RT
- On Thursday, PLEASE change your avatar for one day to FREE GILAD avatar #Gilad http://twitpic.com/81e6a
- To tweeps w/ 10,000+ followers-pls tweet for young Israeli soldier kidnapped 3 yrs ago by Hamas – pls RT #Gilad
- We really appreciate your help in tweeting for Gilad. #Gilad is the hashtag we are all united in using. Free Gilad
- Tomorrow, 3yrs since #Gilad Shalit kidnapped
- R U free 2day? #Gilad isn’t. Did U speak 2 yr mother? Gilad cnt. Did U kiss yr son? Noam& Aviva Shalit cnt! Gilad -3yrs
Our goal is tomorrow, though many have started today. We are “fighting” Jon and Kate, who decided to get divorced. I’d never heard of them – I’m not much of a TV person and watching someone else’s lives fall apart isn’t my idea of entertainment. We are fighting Outlook 2010 – apparently Microsoft decided to do something startling with Outlook. We are fighting IranElection and though their cause may be worthy, I only want one day for Gilad. They can have Wednesday and Friday…but please, just give Gilad Thursday.
- Dear Jon and Kate – please get divorced next week; we need #Gilad to be #1 tracking on Thurs.
- Dear IranElection – many Israelis have supported your hopes and dreams; pls support ours. Please tweet for #Gilad tom’w.
- Outlook 2010 they’re messing up our attempt to get #Gilad to #1 on trend tracking. Can’t they do it next week? We need Thurs for Gilad.
So, Elie came home today and told me about the exercise that took place this week. He’s tired, he’s beautiful, he’s mine, he’s home. It makes me want to cry – for the first time. There are moments when you let your imagination go and you try to think…how will I cope, how will I breathe? You push the thoughts away because it does no good to imagine and still it lingers. You know, you believe, that there is nothing worse than death. So long as he is alive, safe…please God. But this – three years without a smile, a touch. Can a mother really live three years without her son’s kiss and hug? I know she can…but what right do they have? What incredible pain. Please…no one should have to suffer this.
There is no where else I would want Elie to be – at least today, at this moment but home for when he is here and in the army for when he is not. I love what it has done for him, what he has become because of it.
But today my heart aches for Aviva and Noam Shalit. I can’t imagine not seeing Elie, not getting a hug or giving him a kiss for more than a few weeks. God, how can they manage three years and still be able to speak? What amazing strength they have, what pain, what anger.
Please God, please bring Gilad Shalit home – safe and healthy and soon.