A Child’s Game

It’s a child’s game that I have played with myself for as long as I can remember. It is based, I think, on a deep-rooted insecurity that if you want something badly enough, you aren’t going to get it. So, the best way to get something that you really want, is to pretend, even deep inside yourself, that you don’t want it. Got all that?

Well, either you are like me and you understand, or you don’t have a clue what I mean. Either way, it works. It really does. Elie was home for the first days of the holiday. After going to a base in central Israel in preparation for the unit moving there in the coming weeks. This rotation is all but over, the next about to begin. To avoid keeping soldiers from their homes for a full three weeks, Elie’s commanding officer decided to release some for this coming weekend and the rest next weekend. That puts them, more or less, all together again by the time they have moved to the new base.

I asked Elie when he would be home again. He had no idea.

“Either this week or next,” he told me as I dropped him at the base, just an hour or so away.

“If it’s this weekend, would it include the last days of Passover as well?” I asked him (OK, I used the Hebrew “Pesach” for Passover, but the point was the same).

“No, probably not,” Elie told me.

“What a waste,” I answered, knowing I was being greedy – if not for Elie than for the other soldiers. The holiday, the last day of Passover, begins tonight. As with the Sabbath, it is a day that the army does what it must – it defends the land which is a commandment, to save and defend life. It doesn’t train, as that is not directly saving lives. The holiday ends Wednesday night. That leaves only one day, Thursday – and then Friday is again a day where the army spends most of its time releasing soldiers to go home for the weekend, the Sabbath.

So – they could release the boys on Friday, but by giving up that one day, which really isn’t enough to do much training anyway, the soldiers would gain a really nice bunch of days at home – like Elie had last week.

Would Elie come home this weekend? That was my hope. We dropped him at his base on Sunday and then the rest of the family drove up north to the shores of the Sea of Galilee. We joined long traffic lines – all made worthwhile by the fun we had in the car, the barbecue, the water, the shells and the sunset over the mountains as we turned to go home.

Yesterday, we visited with friends and had a barbecue at their home on a beautiful moshav. I thought of calling Elie, but figured I’d wait. A short time later, Elie called and told me there was a chance he would be coming home for the last day of the holiday (starting today), or, if not, then on Friday.

I went to sleep content – a quiet holiday with the family, a day to finish off holiday things, put things away, do tons of laundry and some work, and maybe Elie would be home for Shabbat … or maybe he would be home to join us for the end of the Passover holiday … would he come home today – that’s where I began to play the child’s game. Deny it. Say he won’t, and maybe he will. Believe he will, and for sure, he won’t.

I called his phone, thinking already to listen in the background. Would I hear the loud echoing noises in the background that suggest he is on a bus, coming home? No answer. That’s not good, I thought to myself. If he doesn’t answer, it means he is busy. If he’s busy, it means he can’t be sitting on a bus coming home. Maybe he’s asleep on the bus? No, he would still hear his phone, feel it vibrate. He can’t be on his way home.

He called a few minutes later – he was in a rush. He hasn’t left yet – but he’s coming home. For today and tomorrow, until he returns to base on Thursday! There are moments in your life when you know the world is in a good place – or as good as it can be. Today is one of those days.

Elie is on a bus coming home. My daughter and her husband will come for one of the meals. My younger daughter’s face is ever-so-slightly sunburned on the cheeks from two days of playing and running outside and I have watched the sun gently kiss the mountains of Israel on the shores of the Sea of Galilee. Sometimes the child in all of us wins the game.

Sunset looking towards the shores of the Sea of Galilee

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