My Next Soldier

See, sometimes I type the title and then realize that I’ve set myself up for a direction that I don’t want…this being a perfect example. My next soldier – what was I thinking?

Davidi…that’s his baby name. I have to stop doing that. I have to let him be David. Worse, Elie has been Elie since he was born. It was a name we chose, but I chose the spelling. I wanted people to think of Elie Wiesel. I didn’t want people to pronounce his name as ElI (with the i sounding like the letter). No one calls Elie Wiesel – EE-LIE. But for a while now and for sure on his wedding invitation, his email address and more, Elie has been calling himself Eli. 
I don’t even like that spelling – but hey, I’m just his mother and each person has a right to call himself what he will. I know people who have changed their names completely – Elie…Eli isn’t doing that. It seems easier for me somehow to let Davidi be David than to begin using Eli. It feels like I’m not even talking about the same person. His name…my blog… I don’t know.
But Davidi will be David (if it helps, it is pronounced Daveed – that’s his name, the Hebrew form of the English name David). He was named after his grandfather, a Holocaust survivor. David never met him because it is our tradition that we name our children after relatives that have passed away and in so doing, we pay tribute to their memory and create a lasting memorial. To some extent, we also hope that the good of the person whose name the child carries will come into the new life. 
So David will be my next soldier but I don’t want to think of him that way. He’s 16 and a half. He wants to get an identity card (he has to have it when he is 17, but he can get it already). He wants to start driving lessons…that too can come soon. He’s started to shave – okay, more often than he really has to, but that too is not what caused this sudden post.
There was a wonderful session for bloggers at this conference I am going to – it’s fun and different and something I need for me, for my brain. Alana Newhouse was the speaker and bloggers were given the opportunity to ask a question. I didn’t realize I was going to ask one…but then I did. 
Was I being honest with my blog and its readers? Am I a soldier’s mother? Elie and Shmulik are out of the standing army. Yes, according to the exact definition in Israel, I will remain a soldier’s mother for the next 23.5 years – until the day the army tells David he can stand down. By then, oh God, I could be the grandmother of a soldier.
I can keep writing. I have been so blessed. I sometimes tell people I write when I’m sleeping, when I’m driving, when I am not near a computer or pen and paper. I write in my head when I can’t write on a screen or paper. Words flow and there is such frustration when I can’t direct them to something that I can see with my eyes. 
It isn’t that I don’t have something to say, but do I have something others want to hear? Will I write too much about Israel and politics when maybe I should be writing about my sons, Israeli families, etc.
And so I thought of David – but I’m not ready to think of him as a soon-to-be soldier. A year and a half is an eternity to a mother who doesn’t want to believe it will go by so fast. And really, he will turn 18 in the middle of his last year in high school – so he won’t be going into the army for probably a year or more after that. There’s time, time enough and too little time.
Alana said I should keep writing; others in the room were quick to agree. It seems like every time I wonder, others come forward and say keep writing. So I will – as an Israeli, as a mother. As a Jew, and as a soldier’s mother.

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