What Elie Didn’t Have

What Elie didn’t have in the army was someone in the family who understood where he was, what he was doing, where he was going. He didn’t have someone to talk to who could speak of other experiences. I knew it was missing, but didn’t know how important it was, how much easier it makes the experience, until I watched Shmulik and Elie last weekend and especially this one.

It isn’t just how Elie spoke to Shmulik about uniforms and how to dress – it was so much more. Several times now I have listened as they spoke. Shmulik defers to Elie in some ways; and Elie speaks to him in a new way…more respectful, more brothers of an age. It was the little things; not one thing in particular and yet it was all things.

Elie gave Shmulik his large backpack to use, and a smaller one for the times he doesn’t have to bring too much home. Shmulik’s commanding officer saw the backpack and asked him where he got it.

“From my older brother,” Shmulik answered. It has the emblem of Elie’s artillery unit and the commander was impressed. They spoke of guns and training; of the weather and sleeping on base. Of how the army cleans the bases before Passover and so much more.

What Elie didn’t have was someone who understood his army talk. He tried to talk to me and tell me things sometimes, but I could only listen and not share my own experiences back…I don’t have any. But Elie does and so when Shmulik talks about the long hours; Elie understands. When Shmulik talks about cleaning the base; Elie explains that he did too. On and on they went as I watched these two beautiful young men…mine, I thought. They may now have each other in a way they never did before…but I am the most blessed because I have them both.

Tonight, Shmulik is with friends before returning tomorrow to the army; Elie is on call with the ambulance squad.

I’m at peace – silly concept that, but it is true. Today, Israel was hit by four rockets fired from Gaza. Thankfully, there were no injuries. Yesterday, it was two rockets. Thursday, one rocket that killed a Thai worker in the field. Wednesday and Tuesday other rockets. This is going back to the daily firing that led to war…where this will go, I do not know.

By army rules, Elie won’t be called to Reserve duty for one year following his finishing the army…but that is ignored for war. I haven’t asked him about the rockets, about war. As for Shmulik – he has yet to receive a gun and the training he would need. For at least the next four months, if not a bit longer, the army won’t be sending him anywhere…yes, tonight my sons are home and other sons guard our borders.

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