Yesterday, my husband and I drove our youngest daughter to the army base at Tel Hashomer, in the center of Israel. For months we’ve known that her draft date was April 7th and she had been slowly collecting all her army needs over the last little while: khaki and white tee shirts, warm socks, thermal shirts, toiletries, speed-dry towels etc. The pile in her room slowly rose until she started packing her gigantic backpack with all her items and it stood in the corner of her room, stuffed to the gills. Every time I folded the family’s laundry and brought her pile into her room, that backpack stood out reminding me that the army was going to be in charge of my girl – my baby, my youngest – for the next few years.
While we stood with hundreds of eager young men and women waiting for their names to show up on the digital board so they could board a bus that would take them just a few minutes away for processing, I suddenly realized that I had given birth to my daughter in that exact location.
The memories flooded back so quickly — in great detail — of how I got up early that morning on August 8th to attempt to finish painting my older daughter’s room — I was determined to finish it before the baby came – but God had a different plan in store for me. I had barely gotten out of bed when my water broke almost a month ahead of schedule and because I have a history of quick births, we grabbed the bag I had packed for the hospital, called someone to come watch our 3 older kids and drove to Tel Hashomer hospital. She was one of my longest births, clocking in at just under 6 hours, and she was absolutely stunning the second I laid eyes on her. Skin as white as Snow White, a shock of darker hair on her head and pale almond shaped eyes framed by inky black lashes.
As I stood there yesterday, watching her bright eyes light up and her face break into her trademark infectious smile when she saw a friend who was drafting into the same unit as her, I thought about how it seemed like just yesterday when we signed ourselves out of the hospital to bring her home, debating the entire car ride about what to call our new baby.
We ended up with a great first name and gave her a Hebrew version of my husband’s grandmother’s Yiddish name for her second name.
Tzirel had been a firecracker of a woman – she was the exact opposite of a wallflower. She was opinionated and said whatever was on her mind (sometimes with no filter…). She was fearless and determined and fiercely independent. A woman clearly ahead of her time.
Those same traits manifested themselves in our little girl who had toilet-trained herself before she was one and a half, who at two and a half quietly left the house by herself to “visit her Abba at work” (don’t worry…a neighbor saw her and brought her back home), who got herself a job at the makolet bagging groceries at the age of nine for 9 shekel an hour then negotiated herself a raise just two months later, and who started her own successful event planning business at fifteen and was still working bar and bat mitzvahs until two weeks before her draft date.
I’ve always said that life often comes full circle, and yesterday it really did. When I tucked that sweet smelling brand new baby into her car seat about eighteen and a half years ago to finally bring her home to introduce her to get excited siblings, the farthest thing from my mind was the possibility that I would have to bring her back to this exact spot one day in the not so distant future in order to let her go.