Erev Shabbat. New York.
All the shopping has been done, and the cooking has been started.
The phone is charged up, Skype has been turned on, music has been turned down, and the wait begins. Will they call or Skype or text? Will they forget?
I count seven hours ahead. I know that Aryeh is home on kibbutz for Shabbat. Next week I know he’ll be on base. I know Naff is with friends for Shabbat. Next week he’ll be in Mechinah up North.
One dish is prepared, and put into the oven to cook.
I check my messages.
Aryeh: Ima, can you call me?
I call. I suspend time for the 45 minutes I am talking to him. I drink in every word, I visualize every scene that he describes for me, I try not to wince at the joy in his voice as he speaks of weapons training and learning how to set fuses. He gives me his commander’s phone number just in case I will need it. I wish him a Shabbat Shalom, and he signs off with an “I love you, Ima”.
One down, one to go.
I wipe my eyes, and get back to cooking.
A couple more things are finished and I check messages again. Nothing. It’s almost 6 pm in Israel. If Naff doesn’t call soon I will call him. I cannot have Shabbat without speaking to all my boys.
20 minutes later the phone rings. It’s Naff.
I wipe my hands and sit down and give him my full attention. I smile when I hear he went swimming at 3 am, and is learning how to fight effectively. He tells me he’ll send videos of the fighting when he has a wi-fi connection. I hear him say “the food is ok, I guess” and I tamp down the urge to send him a care package of my Shabbat food. He tells me has to go get ready for Shabbat. I tell him I love him, he wishes me a Shabbat Shalom and tells me “I love you too, Ima”.
I spoke to both my Israeli boys – my soldier, and my soon-to-be soldier. I can now breathe fully and continue to prepare for Shabbat. My tears have dried, for now, and my heart puffs up with pride at how happy my boys are with where they are right now.
Every Friday. Every Erev Shabbat and chag. Shabbat cannot happen until these boys have been reminded how loved they are. Shabbat cannot happen until I have heard their voices and know in my heart they are whole and ok.
A simple phone call. My whole life on a Friday.