On Thursday we learned again that you cannot plan when you have a son in the army. Usually, I can follow that simplest of rules; every once in a while, I fall, yet again, into believing and planning. This week was to be “regila” – vacation – for Shmulik and Chaim. Elie suggested that he and Shmulik and Chaim go camping and hiking. We talked of tents and barbecues, of going on jeep rides and more.
They would leave Monday morning, come back Wednesday night. They would…if the army hadn’t canceled Chaim’s regila at the last moment. I don’t know why they canceled Chaim’s and not Shmulik’s…but Shmulik came home this weekend, Chaim stayed on base. The vacation is postponed…hopefully not canceled, though there is little chance the three boys will be able to go together. Probably Elie and Shmulik will do something and then Elie has already told Chaim that he wants to go with him somewhere as well when Chaim does get his break…now scheduled for two weeks from now.
So Shmulik came home to one of those quiet weekends that we seldom get around here. Just me, my husband and whatever kids are around…in this case, all but my oldest daughter and her husband. There were many moments, family moments that are special and come and go in my mind.
I asked Shmulik what he had done this past week. The answer is not a normal one for a mother to hear. He learned to throw a hand grenade. See, this is where my Israeli heart parts with my American one. Or perhaps that’s too simple a concept. The fact is, I never grew up thinking my sons would learn to shoot M16s, throw grenades, and more. It’s a flaw in the logic of a 13-year-old girl who decided to live in Israel…but never considered the consequences of what that would mean to her sons. How could she?
I don’t blame the person I was for coming to the decision that this was where I belong. I agree with the decision and am only sorry it took me so long to get here. And, to be honest, even at 33 years of age, I would not have canceled our plans to finally come here. And yet, this weekend…and the time that Elie described it to me, it was hard to reconcile the decision with the reality. My sons continue to pay the price of my decision and will for many more years of their lives.
And still, still there is only pride and no regret.
“It’s strange,” Shmulik told me, “knowing this thing you are holding can explode.” God, what that does to me. He was surprised at how hard it was to pull the pin out.
“It’s not that hard,” Elie commented as he too was listening.
“No, it’s not,” Shmulik agreed. Just harder than he had expected.
He pulled the pin out; called out the necessary warning. Threw the grenade, which mercifully landed as it was supposed to – OUTSIDE the protected walls from where he tossed it. He counted, and then when he heard it explode, called out “Exploded”…and breathed.
The army trains them for that moment. They practice with rocks, with dummy grenades, and then with the real thing. They practice how to respond when you throw it outside the station (duck fast); and when you throw it in (jump out fast).
This week, Shmulik and Chaim finished their basic training – now they move to the advanced stuff. For now, Shmulik is just happy to be free and home. There were so many things I wanted to remember and as I found myself holding on to moments, I realized I was missing others.
It was, above all else, quiet and home and family. Simple food, easy. Nice….