I tried calling Elie to tell him about the attack in Bat Ayin.
He tried calling me, but I was downstairs.
I called him back and he answered. I asked if he had heard about the terrorist attack and he told me that he had and that as soon as he did, he called the soldier’s new commanding officer and told him to tell the young man. It’s all they can do as a group – show the soldier support and let him come to terms with what has happened.
They will be with him, while he calls home and finds out the news. They will let him go early if he asks. They understand – our army is one made of people, of humans and when tragedy strikes, the army cares for its own.
Last week, Elie told me he had a surprise for his soldiers. He wasn’t telling them yet, because he didn’t want to disappoint them if something happened, but as of that day, the army was planning on letting them go on Tuesday, instead of Wednesday.
Years ago, our “adopted” son was a lone soldier; his family lived in Florida while he had come to Israel to volunteer and had joined the army. In his mother’s place, I sent him brownies and went to his army ceremonies. I watched as he finished his basic training and went there for the final ceremony, releasing him from service. One Passover, Yaakov’s unit was able to go “home” for the Seder and so Yaakov came to us.
He was, as soldiers often are, exhausted and starving when he arrived. Like Elie often does, Yaakov walked around my kitchen and munched whatever there was. By the time the Seder started, Yaakov was literally falling asleep at the table. He could barely lift the spoon to his mouth and several times, his head started to fall towards the bowl.
He finally went to rest on the couch, and joined us again just as we were finishing the meal. He caught up quickly and we finished, but the sight of him dozing at the table is one I’ll never forget. I envisioned seeing it again this year and, as with Yaakov, didn’t really care. All is worth it, just to have my “sons” home.
So, when Elie told me he was coming home Tuesday, I was thrilled – a day to rest, a day to sleep – a day to be normal before we all start the holiday together.
“So, I’ll see you Tuesday?” I asked him this morning.
“No,” Elie replied. I knew it was too good to be true…
“Wednesday, then,” I said.
“No,” Elie replied. I can tell you in those few moments I had two feelings burst inside me – one was hope – maybe Monday, and one was concern – maybe not at all?
“When?” I asked.
“Monday,” Elie answered as a bubble of joy burst inside me.
“Monday,” I repeated.
“Can I take the car on Tuesday?” he asked.
Oh yes, Elie’s coming home!