It’s 3:30 a.m. here in Israel. Deep in sleep in the middle of the night after attending a family wedding, and the house phone rings. We answer it but no one is there. Annoying, but it happens once in a very blue moon. Close the phone. A few minutes later, the phone rings again. More annoying. I’ll let my husband pick up the house line. It’s better if they hear a man’s voice on the phone. Maybe I should listen in.
On separate extensions, I answer too, and again, no one is there but my husband.
“Check the caller ID,” I tell my husband over the phone, “and then we’ll call the police.” Good, let the creep know that we can see his phone number and maybe he’ll stop.
“I did,” he answered back through the phone, “and it’s Elie’s number.”
“Oh, God,” I say, not so calmly, “I’ll call him.”
“He’s probably sleeping on his phone,” my husband responds back. He is ever the logical one, but it’s no match for my ability to imagine, to fear. My mind is racing. He’s injured somewhere. The Syrians have attacked. He’s back in the Golan, first night there – something has happened. Breathe. Think.
“I’ll call him,” I say out loud, about to close the phone.
“I tried that,” my husband says. “He doesn’t answer.”
“I’ll try,” and I close the phone, already dialing on my cellular phone, as my husband has tried on his.
I tried to call, and I keep getting a tone that tells me the phone is already engaged (probably still connected to the house phone) and I’m transferred to voice mail. No, I don’t want to leave a message. I want to know that he’s safe and asleep.
I quickly click in a text message and send it. “Are you calling us? The house phone rang twice and it says it is your number. Call me.”
I send the message. I click to redial Elie’s number and a groggy voice answers, “Mmmmm?”
“Elie, are you ok?”
“Is your phone in your pocket?”
“Close your phone and go back to sleep. I love you.”
So, here I am. Typing at 3:49 a.m. Beginning, very slowly, to see the humor in this. No night terrors. No wounded son, thank God forever and more. No Syrian attack, again thank you to the Most Merciful One. My husband is back in bed, gently snoring nearby. Elie is probably sound asleep, back in the north where he went today for the next round of training and I’m wide awake at 3:51 a.m.
May I never get any call in the middle of the night from Elie – except one dialed in his sleep automatically by a phone that doesn’t understand that mothers get terrified so quickly…wait, too broad a wish – ok, may the only calls I ever get from Elie in the middle of the night be deliberate, not accidental, and may they be filled with only good news (I’m getting married to (fill in the blank here); my wife (fill in the blank here, same as previous) has just given birth, etc.).
Me? I’m going back to sleep for the next two hours and hope that my heart settles back into a normal rate and catches up with my brain. He’s fine. He’s asleep on his phone. This is funny. It really is. He’s safe. He’s safe. He’s not hurt. He’s safe. A few more times, I’ll whisper it to myself and I’ll sleep.
Good night, baby.