Where a Parent Cannot Go

Dozens…probably hundreds…of parents took their sons and daughters to the army today, last week, and in the days to come. It is March in Israel – one of many major induction months on the calendar. This time, Shmulik went to a different meeting point than Elie.

This time, rather than Jerusalem, he was instructed to come to the major army induction center, through which, I believe, all new soldiers pass. There, from station to station, he will receive a large bag…and the things he needs to fill it. Here is a towel, some shirts (uniforms), pants, belts, undershirts, socks…go around the room. Medical checkup – shots if needed, haircut if needed and more.

Outside the induction center, parents kiss their sons, hug them, and part from them. We were spared this by a miserable cold that hit me on Sunday and just won’t leave. I don’t want Shmulik to get sick…and so I didn’t hug or kiss him goodbye.

Elie took him. Elie is still, on paper, a soldier. They walked past all the parents who stood with their sons for these last precious moments. Elie pulled out his military ID – he is still a soldier – and quickly gained access to the base, walking Shmulik further in than any parent could have gone.

I didn’t ask Elie what he said to his brother, words of encouragement, advice…I don’t know. He won’t have said, “I love you” – though they do love each other. They’ll have parted with a few pats on the shoulder, perhaps a brotherly hug of a sort that doesn’t embarrass either. Elie won’t have felt the urge to cry; Shmulik would already have been thinking forward.

Today, once again, Elie went where a parent cannot go and though it was only a matter of a few meters difference…I’m glad he took them with his brother.

It’s been just under three hours since Shmulik entered this new world…and yes, it seems that part of me that broke into pieces and went with Elie hasn’t quite returned home. It seems now that it has flown from brother to brother – perhaps Elie transferred it to Shmulik with that final hug…given in a place no parent can go.

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