I was driving to work today talking to a friend. I was explaining about how the truth of Elie’s service is coming out slowly over time. Nights I thought he was one place, he was out on an operation. I can’t remember all the days and nights of Elie’s service, but there are many that stick out in my mind. One was the night Israel sent planes to stop Syria’s quest into nuclear weapons…if you believe the New York Times.
I know where Elie was, what he was doing. I know that for a few hours, he was out in the field, his artillery weapons ready for war. I know how close we came. I know a year or so later, we crossed that thin distance and Elie did go to war, and I know much of what happened there from Elie’s perspective. I know of the months of training in the north or south, where he went, what he did.
But that leaves months when he was “on the line.” Stationed at a checkpoint or border. That is where his actions are blurred; that’s where I thought one thing and now learn a new reality. You can’t really get retro-actively nervous, right? That’s silly. He is standing there in front of me, telling me what happened or what his mission was. Present tense – standing with me; past tense – what his mission was.
I was explaining this all to a friend and to my daughter, when the friend said simply, “the soldier is a son.” That’s really it, in a nutshell. My son protected me from worrying, brilliantly telling me enough to feel as if I knew where he was and what he was doing because I needed to know that at the time.
Now, when the danger is gone, he can tell me pieces of the life he didn’t share with me. It’s almost as if it is an insult to his actions as a soldier for me to believe he was safe so much of the time. I knew there were moments of danger; times he was on the checkpoint. I knew sometimes that Arabs tried to run through the checkpoint, though I didn’t know how often.
I knew there were operations; times he was sent into a village to arrest someone suspected/known to have violated Israel’s security. But I don’t think even now I know how often that was. It’s strange thinking of the nights I thought he was one place, only to find out now he was somewhere else.
Nothing really new in this whole concept except the reality that beyond my not knowing, was an attempt by Elie to keep me from worrying. I honestly didn’t know – silly now, of course, but at a time when I thought he was completely focused on his reality, my reality now is a bit shaken by the truth that where I thought the focus was on him and his needs…he took the time to focus on my needs (even when I didn’t realize they were there).
I became a soldier’s mother the day Elie entered the army…and I guess he became a soldier’s mother’s son.