All sorts of things trigger an entry here. Funny things, sad things, news items, threats to our country, the threat of a threat, fear, hope, worry. But there’s another part of the army that I haven’t written about and this is as good a time as any.
There’s nothing new. I spoke to Elie only briefly two days ago to discuss his upcoming ceremony in Zichron Yaakov. He doesn’t know yet if he will be able to come home for the weekend. There’s no news in the family and other than a message wishing him a good night, there’s nothing really new to tell him.
There are little things – his youngest brother has another loose tooth bothering him. His younger sister leaves me adorable notes and his middle brother is hoping to take a driving test on Wednesday. We’ve been renovating our new offices and despite tons of aggravation, the place is actually looking very nice and we ordered the new desks. We haven’t made the necessary calls to move forward with the house. I haven’t spoke to his uncles and aunts. He didn’t get any mail. No new pets (thank, Heavens). We are out of diet soda (well, that’s major to me, but not to Elie, who doesn’t touch the stuff).
It’s silly, really, feeling that he’s being left out of these events and non-events. He’ll hear about the important ones – the tooth will fall, the notes will keep. The driving test will be scheduled and hopefully passed, the renovations completed and the desks…well, he’ll see them eventually. But the point is more the time passing, than the events. Here with us, and there with Elie.
For each thing that happens here, there is another happening there. Elie is talking to someone, doing something. I might hear about it or, like the desks that will be a fait accompli or the tooth that will fall with another to take its place, elements of his life will just happen and not be worthy of a mention.
It is as inevitable as it is just a little sad. It’s bound to happen with every child, not just a soldier. Certainly, when I went off to college, I didn’t tell my mother everything that happened (and some things I probably never will). So this news of nothing new might have left me feeling just a little sad, if something hadn’t happened to make me realize that a memory is never quite forgotten and so it holds the possibility of a renewal.
Sometimes, even many years later, it comes back. Tonight, Elie’s middle brother was standing in the bathroom about to brush his teeth. The bathroom door was opened and I could see him as I was working on my computer. We were talking about something that triggered a memory and he told me that he remembered a time when he and Elie had gone to the local pizza shop and ordered a pizza. A whole pizza. Just the two of them. And, they ate it. They consumed the whole thing and, as they walked home, they took a “shortcut” through a staircase that all too often smelled rather foul. No sooner did Elie enter it than he began to vomit. Seeing that, it triggered Shmulik to vomit as well.
“Why did we go eat pizza?” Shmulik asked his brother, “if we were just going to throw up?”
It’s a memory. A missing piece. And it made me think of the missing pieces now. We’ll see Elie on Thursday for his “Completion Ceremony” marking the formal end of his training. His commanding officers will leave his unit. Or, his direct commanding officer, will take on a new group of recruits and he will order them to call him “Commander” until the day they pass beyond their basic training, as Elie did; Yedidyah, his senior commander who treated Elie so well and often singled him out, will be reassigned as well.
Elie has joined the artillery division in the fullest sense of the word. He’ll spend the next few months training with them. And I’ll continue to collect memories and moments that I’ll store up to share with him when he comes home or when he calls so that he feels the connection and doesn’t lose the sense of home waiting for him.
I didn’t think Elie was storing up memories, and yet when he calls or when he comes home, he talks, he shares, he explains. He seems to have a need to strengthen the connection too, to make us aware of what has happened in his life.
Nothing is new, and yet by Thursday, when I see Elie, even the ordinary will be shared so that he doesn’t think there are any missing pieces or missing moments. I’ll tell him about the tooth and the desks. He’ll know about the driving test and the notes and we’ll listen to what he’s done and what he’s seen and even if nothing is new, it will be new in the telling and the sharing because part of having a son in the army is making sure he never feels that the family is moving on or away from him. He has to know that we are here waiting, thinking of him, supporting him, loving him, having faith in him, proud of him and even though I don’t want him to know…he does know, that I’m afraid for him, I’m praying for him, and I’m hoping that the man that comes out, with God’s help, at the other side of this national service retains as much of the boy that went in as possible.