For seven weeks, we have held our breath with the rest of the country. Held our breath for the murdered to be identified and named, for the war to start and achieve victory, for the return of the captives. But, also, to hear from our sons, our beautiful, combat sons who ran out of the house on October 7 in a whirlwind of fear, anger, determination and bravery to join the fight.
For seven weeks, we have hoped and prayed, cried and screamed and hoped some more. For seven weeks we have wondered where they were, how they were, what they were seeing and doing and hearing.
For seven weeks their room has been completely bare. Except that it’s our mamad (safe room) so it is prepared with water and food, mattresses and tourniquets in the event of the worst happening, again.
And then, suddenly, after seven weeks they returned as abruptly as they left with a surprise at the front door, a phone call on a Friday morning. And our joy and our tears could be seen and heard far and wide; balanced, of course, with the pain of the thousands in our country who have not been given the same privilege. One son spent his very first free day after seven weeks in his newly washed dress uniform at Har Herzl visiting his many, many fallen friends.
After seven weeks, we gave thanks at home and at shul while our friends and family called and texted, cheered and sighed with relief.
After seven weeks our soldiers told stories of bravery, terror and devastation. Of the horror, desolation and destruction in the south with burnt cars littering every street, with burnt and bullet-riddled homes; of the smell that captured the soldiers and would not let go; the smell that still permeates every ounce of these once-thriving communities.
After seven weeks, they told of watching terrorists inside a school in Gaza literally grabbing children from their chairs to serve as human shields and of the tapes the terrorists played on a loop all night long from the school; tapes of Israeli children screaming and calling for help as a form of torture to the Israeli soldiers and a way to lure them towards the traps in the school.
After seven weeks, we breathed for one night. We slept and cried (oh did we cry) and laughed and watched our sons play-fight with their little brothers and giggle and smile and love and eat leftover bar mitzvah food from the simcha they missed last week.
After seven weeks we sat together for meals and kissed and hugged our beautiful soldiers before sending them out the door to the fight…