A Soldier’s Eyes

Elie took a day with Chaim, our adopted son/lone soldier, and went up north for a fun day. It was supposed to be Shmulik and Elie and Chaim, but the army pulled an army, and Chaim’s days off were delayed until this week, while Shmulik got his vacation and a day at the beach two weeks ago. Elie and Chaim had a great day – kayaking, tractoronim (ATV – All Terrain Vehicles), a barbecue on the shores of the Sea of Galilee, and a quick visit to Elie’s unit, which is currently in the north.

When Elie came back, he described his day, what they had done, where they had gone, and finally the visit to his unit. It was then that I realized something about Elie and the changes he has gone through over the last few years as he entered the army and has now been discharged.  He is physically stronger than he was before he went in; he’s got a better sense of what he can do and a greater sense of the consequences. He’s also got a fantastic sense of time. He controls his time, rather than time controlling him. He figures out where he has to go and how long it will take to get there; he understands what he has to do, and how long it will take him to do it.

Most of this I had already figured out long before he left the army, but it is still nice to see that these things seem to have become a part of him and now, a bit over four months out of the army, they seem to be remaining. But the one thing I hadn’t realized, is one change I had not considered, hadn’t recognized, didn’t understand. It hit me this morning as I was driving to a client in the north. It’s a wonderful, long drive – time to think. I remembered what Elie had told me – about the base where this friends are, about what they are doing there, what they are guarding.

The details, the restrictions, the security requirements and related international laws – all this was discussed in greater detail than I want to write here. But there was something in the way he spoke, a deeper analysis that went beyond what a “normal” person would see were they to pass his unit’s base. I might see some of the things he saw, the weapons, the vehicles, the positions and actions, but I would not have drawn the same conclusions or understood the deeper significances of what I was seeing.

As I drove this morning and thought over what Elie told me, I realized with some regret, that this was because something fundamental had changed in Elie…something that was…and is…very precious to me – Elie’s eyes. They are the most amazing color…somewhere between blue and gray. They radiate intelligence and humor and now I understand, they are the eyes of a soldier.

It does something to my heart, those words, that concept. I don’t know if he always will, though at this moment, I suspect so. At least for now, my son has soldier’s eyes.

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