Michelle Orrelle
Live & Learn

No promises

How does one prepare to give her child to those who cannot guarantee his safe return?
Photo credit: Michelle Orrelle
Photo credit: Michelle Orrelle

My conversation with the Navy as I sat on the bleachers at my son Gidon’s swearing-in ceremony for new recruits.

“I can accept he’s not mine, but I can’t accept that he’s yours.”

“But he gave himself to me.”

“No, you took him!”

“He agreed.”

“Of course he agreed! He grew up here. It’s in the air, in the water. He had no choice.”

“But aren’t you proud of him? I saw your eyes, I felt your heart when you heard the boots marching from afar at the grounds, coming towards you. Left, right, left.”

“Of course I’m proud, but I’m also scared. And I’ve already been through this once before. Remember how I drove for hours through the desert to Ben’s ceremony? Miles of nothing until a sign with the number of the base appeared, then a traffic jam. Hundreds of families with picnic tables, coolers and grills coming to celebrate their children being sworn-in and taken away.”

“So you should be prepared.”

“I’m not. How does one prepare to give their child to someone they don’t trust? What if the day comes — G-d forbid — that I have to say: Why did I do this? Why did I allow this to happen?

I hate myself for being moved, for being elevated, inspired by these kids who swear to give their lives for their country if needed.

How can a person even have a country? If that is the case, then my children have four countries: the one they were born in, the one they were raised in and two more they inherit from their each of parents. Anyway, aren’t we all citizens of the world?”

“Oh stop it, you know the truth, or why else would you be here?”

“All I know is that you took my baby.”

“You brought him here. He’s mine now.”

“Yes, but he will always be mine really, so once you’re done with him, please give him back to me whole.”

“I can’t promise.”

About the Author
Michelle is an Australian Jew who moved to Israel in 2004 with her three US born sons, and British-born, Israeli-raised husband. She is the co-founder of Crew 972 animation production company, Director, Arizona-Israel Trade and investment Office, Residence Event Manager for Australian Ambassador to Israel, and guides at ANU Museum of the Jewish People.
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