“Why didn’t you tell me?”
“You must be so relieved….”
This is more or less what I’ve been hearing from my loved ones recently since my son has just completed his three-year service in the IDF and can now “get on with his life”.
Oddly, I am not feeling this overwhelming sense of relief that I know I should be experiencing and if it’s so fantastic why am I not in a state of euphoria?
I stare at this fully grown man who has been through war, has seen death and destruction, and I try to understand what I am feeling. I think of what he’s been through and wonder what his future has in store for him.
When he was in the army, I knew my boy was a hero and his greater mission was to protect and defend our soil and our people. It was a very scary situation, but I had made peace with it knowing that he couldn’t possibly be doing anything more meaningful or important with his days on this earth. None of what he was doing was in my control, and really, in my mind control is just an illusion anyway. I directed all my faith, hope and prayers to G-d and tried as best as I could to proceed with life as normal. When he was serving I would count the days till he would come home and when he did I’d pamper him as much as he would let me and send him back off with a lump in my throat, tears in my eyes, and a mixture of pride and pain in my heart.
I want to rejoice. I want to be ecstatic, but I’m not. I watch other young boys and girls as they enlist and think of their fears and anxieties as well as their loved ones and the pain and worry that will keep them up night after night. The constant checking of their phones and the news, the waiting and waiting and waiting till they hear from them again. I am distraught and can’t escape the frustration and gloom of the constant threat that looms over our people and our country .
How can I rejoice when other soldiers are out there risking their lives and when all too many have paid the ultimate price? How can I be ecstatic when we are so vulnerable as a nation surrounded by enemies?
It is not over. My son will be again risking his life doing miluim/reserves for at least another 20 years. Even if this weren’t so, I sometimes wonder if he isn’t safer on guard with all his equipment or in his tank, where he knows to be on the lookout for the enemy than the rest of us unassuming potential victims at large. Is he really safer and better off now? Is it all just an illusion? My son, my beautiful son, I don’t know where you are safe. I don’t know if there is a safe. All I know is that we are all very human and we are all very vulnerable. I want what is best for you and I want what is best for all of us and so until there is peace, until there is no more hate, until people decide that all life is meaningful and valuable, I cannot rejoice.
Although we may only be enlisted for “x” number of years, we all serve a life sentence when there is no peace.