Elie’s 24th birthday (English anyway) is today. That makes this the fifth birthday I have shared with this blog. I started it when Elie was only 19 and weeks away from the army. Today, he turns 24 and is weeks away from his first round in the Reserves. What an amazing concept. Who could have imagined the road these 5 years would take, the boy into the man. My relationship with Elie has changed so much from what it was. It stands as a reflection of how he has changed and how I have changed too.
On Elie’s 23rd birthday, I wrote Elie’s 23rd birthday – The Truth in the Youth – of the flotilla and Elie’s ability to see humor in something that was so wrong. I wrote, “I love your sense of who you are, what you have become.” That is as true today as it was then!
On his 22nd birthday, deep in the years of his army service, I wrote Happy Birthday Elie – 22 years old.”The boy that was, is almost gone. He’s still there sometimes, especially at home playing with his little sister; but the man leaves after the weekends and returns to base and the boy goes with him because that is the way of things. And then, some time later, it is the man that comes home, with the boy hidden deep inside. More and more it is the man I speak to on the phone, and now it is the man I will wish a happy birthday. May you live to 120 and may all your days be filled with love and life; health and happiness; friendship and pride. Happy birthday, Elie. I love you more than words could ever express. May you continue to fight for what is right and know that behind you stands a nation that is forever grateful that you and your friends stand for us.” This too remains deep in my heart.
On Elie’s 21st birthday, I called Elie and told him to wish me a happy birthday, as I was the one who had actually given birth. In Happy Birthday Elie – 21 years old, I wrote “Twenty-one years old – and he is where I have always wanted him to be, doing what I have always dreamed he would do. No, not just serving in an army, but being part of a country for which he cares enough to fight, living in a land to which he has dedicated his future and his present.”
Elie entered the army at 19. Just a few weeks later, it was his 20th birthday – a day we spent apart. After an amazing effort by an organization who sends packages to soldiers, I was able to reach out and send him a gift. In Happy Birthday Elie – 20 years old, with tears in my eyes, I wrote the truest of words, “So, my Elie – mazel tov. May you go from strength to strength, this year and every year. May you be blessed with sweet things, happy thoughts, health and success. May we celebrate more birthdays together than apart and may you know, on all the birthdays that we aren’t with you, that you are much loved.”
I can’t think of any better blessing to wish my amazing Elie on his 24th birthday than to return to the dreams and hopes I have quietly wished him each year. There are no words to describe my pride in him, my love of him. An amazing concept for a writer to admit and yet I do without shame or hesitation. Happy birthday, my beautiful son!