This weekend, Elie is on base. Another weekend that he won’t be home and another family celebration postponed. Sunday is his youngest sister’s 8th birthday – we’ll wait until next weekend to celebrate together. She doesn’t mind, really, because it means one more cake (one on Sunday because we can’t ignore the day; one at school; one at a party at home; and yet another with Elie next weekend).
A short while ago, Elie called to wish us a shabbat shalom. He still has more of the course after lunch, but decided to call when he had a moment free. I told him this morning I had shipped him another box of brownies, drinks and snacks. I had wanted it to be a surprise, but found myself telling him anyway. Many calls are like that, but I accept that I feel like I have to keep him informed (but no, I haven’t told him yet that I can’t figure this GPS thing out!).
As I was clarifying that he would be home next weekend, he began explaining that this weekend, right after the Sabbath ends, he’ll be going out on a “navigation” training exercise. Although he will have others with him, it will be his job to read the map and navigate (at night) from Point A to Point B. At Point B, there will be people waiting for them with sandwiches and snacks and a chance to rest before they begin again with another soldier navigating from Point B to Point C. From there, Elie will be in charge of the walkie-talkie while another soldier chooses the path they will take. The exercise will end in the middle of the night.
As always, my mind filled with worries – what could I ask him? What should I say? Maybe if I know more details, I’ll worry less. Will you be alone? No. Ok, one less worry.
I know that the army is very careful about them taking water with them. Two less worries.
What about wild animals? “Ima, we have guns and [number]
What about the Bedouins? They are nomadic tribes that wonder the desert. For the most part, they wouldn’t make trouble. While they are notorious for stealing whatever they can (believing that if they can steal it, it is their right and that they aren’t doing anything wrong), they aren’t likely to attack armed soldiers…right? “Ima, we have guns and [number]
It will be so dark. That is so lame I was almost ashamed of myself, but Elie, to his credit, answered with patience. “There are no lights anywhere so your eyes adjust.” But. But. But. “And anyway, if we need it, we have flashlights with us.” Yes, but won’t the wild animals and the Bedouins see the light…and right back to the answer about the guns and magazines.
What if you can’t find Point B or Point C or…”That’s why one of the guys has a walkie talkie with him.” This boy is not going to let me worry, is he? I think to myself.
But what Elie doesn’t take into account is that a mother doesn’t need a reason to worry. It isn’t about logic. It’s about my baby wondering around alone, unarmed, and with no means of communication in the dark in the middle of the desert in the middle of the night. And all the logical explanations about him certainly not being alone, certainly not being unarmed, certainly not being without means of communication means nothing because…he’s still my baby.
Be safe, Elie – and somewhere in all the walking and the learning, enjoy the beautiful walk in the desert! You have nothing to worry about; I’m taking care of that for you!