Sometimes, you are driving or doing something, and in a distracted way, you hear something and realize that this time, the news has hit too close. It happens fairly regularly in a small country because you were always…just on that road, just in that city, just met someone…or you have a son in the same division, the same age, the same something.
It happened a lot when Elie was in the army – Azzoun, near where he was stationed, is a small Arab village that loves to throw stones, demonstrate, throw firebombs, and even shoot at Israeli cars. It happens fairly regularly and so my ears perk up when I hear that name…even now, more than 6 months after Elie left that area.
Hebron is where Shmulik will be in a few months…and so, again, that city or simply the name Kfir catches my attention. And so it goes.
Driving home yesterday from the north, which I do fairly regularly now, affords me quite a bit of time to listen to the radio. Yesterday, on the way home, there were two things that caught my attenion.
The first was that a fire was raging on the Golan Heights. It had caused tremendous damage, acres and acres (dunams and dunams) of land has been scorched in this heat wave and the fire burned out of control, despite the efforts of local fire and emergency crews, airplanes, and soldiers. At some point, they announced that it had been started by a stray artillery shell during training.
“It’s not my g’dud [battalion],” Elie answered when I called to tell him. He tracks where they are, what they are doing. It wasn’t them.
The second notice hit very close for a different reason. There is a mindset among many young people in Israel to leave for extended travels after the army. Look what we have been through for three years, they say to their parents…we want time away from Israel, time away from having every minute of our lives regulated for three years. We want to be free. So they travel to far off distant lands.
Most have amazing trips that they remember all their lives…too many meet with tragedy. Yesterday, Adi Paran died in an accident in Bolivia. He’d finished the army recently…probably the same time as Elie. He was 23-years-old; Elie turned 23 recently. Adi Paran was an officer in the Israeli army; Elie is a commander. Both Adi and Elie were in artillery.
I have no idea whether Adi was involved in the Gaza war, which unit he was in, if his path ever crossed with Elie. Artillery is a huge division; probably not. There are easily as many differences between these boys as similarities, probably even more. I have no idea the color of Adi’s eyes, whether he was religious, if he liked to cook, to run.
If he was an officer, chances are, he was a leader, someone to take charge. He died so young…so strange to have survived three years in the army and then to die so far from home, in a traffic accident, alone. The one thing I know is that a soldier’s mother is crying today and though I have never met her, I mourn with Adi’s mother.
May God send comfort to the family of Adi Paran. May they be comforted among the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem and may they know no more sorrow.