Note: For those who have followed this blog for more than a year, I apologize for these posts that look back…I can’t tell you what it is inside of me that makes me need to read back to last year at this time and experience again all the emotions of having a son at war. All I know is that each day, I go back…I read, I remember and then I pull myself back to today, to where Elie is now, to where I am.
I learned something today. It isn’t just children that need to cope with trauma; not just kids who remember things differently as time blurs and consoles. For months now, whenever discussions turned to the war, I’ve told people that Elie was down there forever…at one point, I think I said more than a month…maybe even 6 weeks.
I’ve been following my blog back in time, reading each day how it was a year ago. The war ended on January 18th…that I remember. Elie came home a few days later…that too I remember…just in time to join us for his brother’s bar mitzvah.
Today, I read the entry for December 31…It was called “Drat, I lost it” and while reading it, I realized that even on December 31, he hadn’t get been called down. I knew the time was close…very close…
Rockets have landed today in Beersheva again, Sderot, Ashkelon, Netivot, Eshkol region, several kibbutzim in the area and, for the first time, Gedera. Today, in light of the missiles that hit Beersheva last night, the city decided to close schools for the day. And a great miracle happened – no one was hurt when a missile slammed into a school. There was great damage to the building, but buildings are nothing. It is the people that cannot be replaced, the children that we revere.
I’ve watched as the news detailed each missile attack. I went into class today, giving someone my phone and one simple request, “if Elie calls, interrupt the class.”
I didn’t call Elie in the morning because I don’t know if he was on late and might still be sleeping. I didn’t call him during my breaks, nor into the hours of the afternoon. Mostly, it was because I feel like we’re all waiting. It’s like when you know a woman is nearing the end of her pregnancy. The last thing she needs is for people to call her each day to ask her if anything is happening. And yet, that’s what it feels like. I don’t know when, if, or where the army will take my son. I haven’t talked to him every day in a week since he was in training.
Then, I felt he needed it and now, now I know it is me. I need to hear that he’s still waiting to move, and not already in danger and he just needs to do what he’s doing. All in all, though people are asking me how things are, I think I’m handling it quite well, writing all the time, calming others far and near. First, because there’s nothing to handle – he’s not even there. Second because to a much larger degree, all things are in Greater Hands than mine and thirdly, as strange as this sounds, human nature is to try to get accustomed to new situations, to make them normal.
While there is nothing “normal” about your country being at war or people living under the constant threat of violence, you find a way, somehow, to accept and lessen the tension. Of course, it all might come back in seconds when you hear a siren or get beeped on your telephone, but you find that 10 minutes can pass, and then 15, and then 30, when you don’t feel that sense of panic. So, I was cruising along today, feeling pretty good. I wrote to one mother trying to make sure she was calm; passing on all the things others were saying to me. Other than that one comment about bringing me the phone if Elie called, I was doing just fine.
During the breaks, I didn’t stay and talk to those taking our course, but rather went right to the computer. More rockets throughout the south, damage and some injuries but in all cases, it could have been so much worse. There could have been fatalities; there could have been children in the school that was hit. Azoun wasn’t in the news. I can handle this, I thought to myself proudly as I finished the class and wished everyone a good weekend until we meet again next week.
And then, I lost it.
It’s the last day of the financial year; the last chance to deposit money into various employee accounts and still get the tax credit. I faxed the papers to the bank and to the insurance agent and then had to deal with calling each to confirm. I live in a wonderful city of about 35,000 people and yet for all that it is a city, it’s also got a small town closeness to it. I know everyone at the local bank, and most know that Elie is a soldier.
“How’s your son?” asked the woman over the phone.
“He’s OK,” I answered slowly.
“Is he there?” she continued.
“No, at least I don’t think so. I spoke to him yesterday. They might send his unit down, but I don’t know when.”
“He should go in peace and come back in peace and be safe,” and then a minute later, “I sent you the fax confirming the transfer.”
I thanked her, got off the phone and just lost it. My eyes filled with tears. God, I want to see him and I want him to call me and tell me he’s fine and I don’t want to listen to how many rockets have fallen and how many people are living with this constant fear that the next missile will hit them. I don’t want to hear another country telling us that WE should stop, when it is them.
They should stop. They shouldn’t shoot missiles at 700,000 people. Fine – our weapons are accurate and almost always hit what they are aimed at, while their weapons are incredibly inaccurate and rarely hit anything, never mind what they hope it would hit. They may hit open fields most of the time, but when they don’t, they are aimed at people. They hit a school today. They hit a kindergarten last night. They’ve hit malls and cars and homes and people. Tell THEM to stop and we won’t have to stop them. Tell THEM to talk and not fire. Hold THEM accountable. Force THEM to recognize the sanctity of life and stop glorifying death.
So, I sat there in my office for a few minutes, letting all these thoughts fill my head. I turned from my computer, my connection to all that is exploding, and looked out the windows at the black clouds hovering overhead and there, to the side, where the two walls of windows that grace my beautiful office meet. It’s my photo gallery, two pictures of each of my children and between each pair of pictures, a note that my youngest daughter wrote to each, promising them that she loves them more than anyone else. She’s still too young to understand the illogical nature of that concept; each note remains true. She loves all of us more than anyone else.
What an amazing country we live in. The transfer is made, the employee papers filed, rockets are exploding, and the woman at the bank offers a blessing that my son should be safe.