It had been two weeks from the start of the ground invasion when my son, Sadok, who is serving in the IDF, called saying we can come down to see him for a bit. He was in between missions, stationed at the rallying point and “would have a little free time”. He told me not to get too excited as I may take the two hour drive only to have to turn around, should they need him for a mission. That of course didn’t stop me. It would be worth it just for the chance to give my son a hug and see him in person.

I dropped everything and was on my way. While I knew full well we were engaged in a war, I wasn’t prepared for the experience I was about to have. My husband and I drove down south expecting the tzeva adom sirens and were ready for that drill. When we finally arrived and parked our car, I felt a loud, powerful boom that made me instinctively duck for cover. My heart rate must have doubled and my initial thought was OMG, I’m a goner. After I opened my eyes and realized I was alive we found our son. He was on the lookout for our arrival in the oppressive heat in his full army garb. He was sweating profusely. It pained me to think how our boys were exposed to this intense heat day in and day out in their hot uniforms with many having to carry heavy equipment. As I ran to hug him, another earthshaking, loud, booming explosion made me duck for cover yet again. Sadok raised his eyebrows, looked at me and said in a bored tone, “mom, it’s OK, it’s coming from our side.” I noticed that no one in the area flinched besides me. All the soldiers were going about their business as if nothing was happening. It took me 40 minutes to control my reflexes from reacting to each artillery round.

sadokandmama

My mind tried not to let pictures of Gaza flow through my head as I acclimated to the environment. I looked around at each precious war hardened soldier wanting to embrace every single one of them and tell them that I love them. I wanted to fully express how we pray for them and are eternally grateful. I held back, knowing that Sadok would have been mortified by such a display. A few days later I received a call from the lliaison to Sadok’s platoon asking the parents to write an encouraging letter to the entire Pluga.  This afforded me the opportunity that I thought I had missed out on. The following is what I wrote:

To our dearest Sadok and to the entire Pluga we write this letter,

 

We are grateful for this opportunity to express how much all you do means to us.

 

First and foremost, that you are there for each other, every one watching out for the other, and being a family away from home. Individuals working together and supporting one another is extremely valuable and much needed in times like these.

 

We’ve heard and read stories of the amazing job you have done and how much our troops have relied on Shiryon for the success of our missions.

 

You have all placed your lives at risk for the greater good of our country and the safety of our people. It is impossible to properly thank you for such selfless acts. We can only hope we as a nation will be fortunate enough to always have people like you who give for others in such a noble way.

 

We, the people of Israel are blessed by your existence and owe our lives to you, our precious soldiers. You do the work of G-d here on earth and we can’t imagine a purpose more lofty. We had always thought angels were of one appearance; white, one legged creatures with wings. We now know they can be human from the four corners of the earth, wearing khaki green and army boots.

 

It’s crazy for me to watch these young men knowing they experience the harshest realities of mankind. They are forced to save lives by taking others. I don’t know how this affects the psyche. I do know that my son has grown in his love, appreciation and devotion to me, our family and our people. His values are forever changed. He has grown out of himself to something larger than life. I’ve watched this in awe and amazement. I only wish it was not the harsh realities of an ugly war that it took to yield this beautiful result.