I’m sometimes so busy with my feelings in relation to Elie being a soldier that I forget, or push to second place, the feelings of others. In some ways, I think I act like it is Elie (and me) against all things he must face and that others, even his father and siblings, are somehow less involved or less connected. That somehow, I believe that I can be there, that I have to be there, if he needs me – if not physically, than in spirit. I don’t want him to be lonely, so I’ll call more if I begin to hear something in his voice. If he mentions something that he feels he needs, I do what I can to get it (within reason…no, I still haven’t bought him a sports car).
Elie and I go and buy it – without involving the others in the family. I don’t know why this is – perhaps I feel that they should do what they want, as I am, and not be forced to doing more. My daughter has just finished her first year of marriage and is busy at university. My second son is in his senior year in high school, making major decisions on what he will do and where he will go next year. My next son is already preparing for his bar mitzvah, less than a year away, and my youngest daughter, at only 8, is simply involved in being 8.
My husband has his own relationship with Elie that lives on a level of its own. They talk mechanical and computer things and build a world I don’t enter and so, I have my world with Elie that centers around him telling me what he needs to talk about, my sharing with him news of the family; what cookies or food he wants, what clothes he needs. Sometimes it is superficial, sometimes it is deeper – always at a level that I think he needs.
I’ve seen this in my personality before – sometimes I feel that we all have to deal with our emotions on our own – and I’ll do what I can…but maybe sometimes I feel that just dealing with my own emotions and not putting them on others is enough of a contribution. Twice now, in the middle of the night, I’ve been terrified – once with cause, as Israel had apparently just attacked a Syrian nuclear reactor (don’t take that as confirmation, I’m only going by the New York Times), and once when Elie repeatedly rolled on his phone and called the house in his sleep. Both times, I was left terrified and upset, alone in the night, not wanting to burden others with what I was sure was unreasonable fears…or was once I knew Elie was fine.
Last year, as Elie went into the army, I talked to the teachers of my younger children and told them that I was concerned. That between my older daughter’s wedding and Elie going into the army, the two smaller ones (and even the then-16 year old) were most likely going to feel a little pushed to the side. I wasn’t sure there was much I could do about it; much more I could handle beyond these two major events happening almost simultaneously.
But, we got through it – Amira got married; Elie went into the army – and we all coped as a family. Through this entire year, we’ve dealt with it all and I thought rather well.
Today, an assistant to the Public Security Minister was shot in an attack during a visit meant to strengthen local farmers who have been living under the constant threat of rocket attacks. My middle-son’s phone and my phone beeped at the same time. Shooting attack – there are wounded, the message came through.
As I often do, I went to the Internet – this time on a laptop sitting on my dining room table. I checked the English news sites, but they weren’t very clear and so I went to a Hebrew site. My 8-year-old daughter was beside me as she read that an Israeli had been shot and was in light-to-moderate condition. He was being evacuated to a local hospital.
There was confusion, as my son realized he had misread his note. He thought it had said the Public Minister, when it was his assistant. In practical terms, it makes no difference. The bottom line is that an unarmed man was shot in a terrorist attack. Little difference whether the terrorist knew who he was shooting. A short discussion in the dining room was interrupted when my daughter turned to me with fear in her eyes. She too had read the Hebrew news.
“Not Elie?” she asked…and my world shook just a little. I was quick to comfort her. No! Not Elie. It wasn’t a soldier. It was in the south, not the north. Elie’s up north. No, not Elie. Elie is fine. In a little while, Elie will likely call to wish us a peaceful shabbat. Maybe I’ll tell him what his sister thought, maybe not.
Her world has been made right again – not Elie. Just yesterday, I wrote of one of my greatest fears. I guess what I learned today is that it is not just my fear. No, little one, not Elie.
Shabbat shalom, Elie – and to your friends and brothers in the north and in the south.