It’s there in his eyes and the shape of his face. I see it now. I didn’t see it earlier because, well, because I wasn’t looking for it. It never crossed my mind. How could it? If you heard that a Mr. Smith had died, would you assume it was the Mr. Smith you know? Probably not, right? It’s that way in Israel, with the name Levy.
This morning I went to work onsite. As I often do, I hooked up my laptop. It’s a compulsion to keep informed, but truthfully, since things have settled down to being a bit more quiet lately, I glance at it less often than I did a few months ago. On one such glance, I saw the horrible news that an Israeli soldier had been killed in action in the early morning hours during a clash with terrorists.
Noam Adin Rechter Levi was just 20 years old, when he fell in battle today. He was a medic, the fourth in a family of five children. He will be buried tomorrow in northern Israel. His brother says only a month ago, he fought to save the life of an injured terrorist. He was, by all accounts, a cheerful, kind, energetic young man. He was posthumously promoted to the rank of First Sergeant.
All this was on the news today – what wasn’t on the news was a description of what must have taken place last night as we all slept. Noam was shot around 3:00 a.m. He was critically injured and they were unable to save him. At some point after that, soldiers would have gone to his house and knocked on his parents’ door.
No words would have to have been said. Just by opening the door and seeing the soldiers, his parents probably already knew. In that instance, they joined a family of Israelis they never wanted to join – the families of bereavement. I met his father a few years ago, read the book he’d written. We’ve discussed business over the years; talked about Israel and family at one point. We talked about having married children, at least I think we did and about sons in the army? I don’t remember.
Just a month ago, Noam’s father wrote to me to point out an error I’d made on something I’d posted somewhere – he did it quietly and kindly, helping as he often did. And a few days ago, he posted to our technical writers’ list offering his opinion on a question, helping yet again by offering his experiences and hindsight. I have no doubt that Noam was like his father and my heart breaks when I think of him now.
Noam looks like him, but I didn’t make the connection until after someone sent me an email, telling me that Noam was David’s son. It had never crossed my mind, but even if it had, what could I have done? Levy is such a popular name in Israel – it would never have occurred to me to call and ask if it was his son.
Now I am at a loss – the funeral is tomorrow, hours away by car. I’ll try to go early next week to visit while they are sitting shiva (the 7-day mourning period). What will I say? What can I say? Are there ever words for this?
The country is so small and now, as I look into Noam’s eyes in the picture that is posted on all the websites, it’s there in the shape of his face, the smile. He is his father’s son and today, I can’t imagine, don’t want to imagine, the agony his father must be feeling.