Two years…one and a week to go…

Elie’s second year in the army is fast coming to a close; his third and final one about to begin. Elie is now in the north in training. He’s been shifted to a new set of responsibilities. He is no longer a commander of troops, but a commander of commanders who are responsible for teams. They come to him, as once he went to his commanding officers.

I’ve been thinking a lot about these past two years; who Elie is now and who he was then. I love the idea of this blog. It means I can’t deny what I was feeling, just because I’m not feeling it now. I went back to this time two years ago and wish I could comfort that mother. Your son will be loved, I want to tell her; your son will love the trust they put in him. He’ll grow in ways you never imagined; become so much more…and still be the same. It won’t seem possible, but it’s true. Have faith and don’t be afraid. You can survive it; he can survive it.

He’ll have to point his gun with the full intention of using it, and you will survive that moment. He’ll even go to war…and yes, you’ll survive that too. It seems impossible that you could breathe and yet you will find a way. It isn’t nearly so terribly frightening if you just take it one day at a time – even when you can’t reach him.

But that mother couldn’t hear what I could now tell her. She couldn’t imagine being where I am now and she couldn’t imagine knowing what I know now. I don’t know that I have so many more answers than I did then…but somehow the questions don’t seem nearly so urgent. I called Elie today, he was busy but we spoke for a few minutes – I could hear soldiers talking in the background. My son is not alone. The army recognized those amazing traits I had only suspected existed in Elie, found them, cultivated them, enhanced them. He still teases his sister, laughs and brings joy. May God continue to bless him, keep him safe, always to tease, to laugh, to lead, to live.

Mother’s Questions
Monday, March 12, 2007

Well, after much rearranging of schedules, an officer from my son’s division arrived and met with Elie to answer any questions he might have. What will he do the first day? Where will he go? What will he need to bring with him?

A drop-off site in Jerusalem – a bus to Tel Aviv – supplies doled out and assignments received. A trip to the basic training base in the south, two months of basic training. Another two months of artillery practice. Details of uniforms and schedules and visits home. These are the questions and answers a 19-year-old boy will ask. As he’s old enough to vote and apparently to serve in the army, he doesn’t need his mother to come along, but I have questions too.

How will I know when I need to worry and when I can be calm? I know the army needs to mold the boys into men, the individual into the unit, but will you protect the boy inside the man, the soul inside the individual? Sometimes my son is a natural leader – will you develop that trait, or seek to crush it?

Sometimes my son likes to talk and it isn’t always clear where his thoughts are going – will there be friends for him there, comrades in arms – but also comrades in peace – to listen to him?

There is no one to answer my questions and hear my fears because I keep them deep inside where a part of me is crying at the thought of what is to come. Outside, I am calm (or at least I like to think I am) while inside I feel so scared. Perhaps my biggest fear is that the army is bound to change him and yet I love him just as he is. Every mother loves their infant, knowing that soon he will grow and crawl and walk and run. Now my son goes into the army and the next stage in his development is upon us. Today, he is more boy than man, though he would likely argue that. Tomorrow
will come soon enough.

I hear him teasing his sister and laughing upstairs – may God bless him and keep him safe, always to tease, to laugh, to lead, to live.

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