The reservist’s wife, or, Hell on the home front.

I am raw. Spent. I don’t even have the energy to go to sleep. That means thinking. People have been telling me to write all week. But I couldn’t. I was too afraid for the security of our men to share these emotions, this experience, in a public forum.

Here in Israel, we are slowly, slowly beginning to exhale. Not yet ready to breathe, waiting to see if this ceasefire holds. I think we all know that this is no real solution and the same cycle will continue for years to come, but for now, we’re hoping.

Last Friday, minutes before Shabbat fell, we received the dreaded Tzav 8. Within 30 minutes, my husband was in uniform and gone. Just like that. We explained to our son as calmly as we could that Abba is off to be a hero, he is a soldier, and that he will come home soon.

It has only been a week since then for much of the world, but for us, for me, it has been an eternity. An eternity of uncertainty; an eternity of crying for my friends and fellow citizens in the South and Center going through their own personal hells; an eternity of expecting those missiles to start raining down over my own home, expecting the Hizbullah to jump on the bandwagon; an eternity worrying for Abba, our hero, and playing any song I knew the lyrics to over and over in my head, anything to keep from thinking. It has been an eternity of telling our son, Abba will be home soon, he loves you, he misses you.

We haven’t slept in almost a week. I assume I can safely say the same for my husband. For me it started as insomnia based on worry, trepidation, unknown, the usual. Then our son got hurt. He had an awful fall, spent half a day getting checked by doctors, and ending with a short hospital visit. I was a mess. My poor, poor boy, in so much pain, and it just wouldn’t have happened if I hadn’t been so distracted with this stupid wannabe war. My poor boy, dealing with enough, missing so desperately the father usurped from our home.

For the past three days, his pain has been awful. Sleeping sitting up, needing me every second of every day, needing to know he has a parent around, hours and hours of crying for Abba. He too, has barely slept in days.

Reality has not been easy here. But I am used to that. We all are. I blog about it all the time.

In the 15 years I have been here, I’ve seen it all. My military service, where husband and I first met, was served on the very active border of Lebanon. War and missiles being fired on my own home is nothing new. Nor is terrorism. I have seen my husband through a Tzav 8 before, and I doubt this time is the last. I used to even get excited, listening to the boom, boom, booms of rockets falling all around us, knowing we were fighting back.

But it was different this time. We were all clueless as to what was to come, and the waiting literally drove me slightly mad. This time, the ramifications could have potentially been felt throughout the entire Middle East. This time, it could have escalated to the regional level. We just had no idea, while at the same time our country was pounded non-stop by pathetic terror organizations that would rather fight than make a real and lasting peace for their own people.

This time, I am a mommy. This time, our boy is depending on his father to come home safely. This time, my man is an Abba, and a damned good one at that. This time, the thoughts about what if’s were harrowing.

I believe I have spent this entire week experiencing a non-stop anxiety attack, hidden by a hallow smile. In every large boom, thud, truck acceleration, I heard missiles and sirens. My hands did not stop shaking until my husband called this morning to tell us he is coming home very soon. My heart constantly felt like it was pounding, but when I put my hand over it, it wasn’t. In the short spurts of sleep I have gotten over the past nights, my dreams have been filled with missiles and war. I couldn’t sleep. I didn’t want to sleep. I probably ate this entire week the amount I would normally eat in a day. I was not by any means myself.

This time it was too much.

Thank G-d, I have a very strong and close knit group of girlfriends across Israel, and we share everything in our private forum. One can only imagine the horrors we discussed; the too close for comfort experiences. When our southerner and her family finally managed to escape the hell of Beer Sheva, the whole group let out a sigh of relief. Our group has experienced the entire gamut. It was the most human outlet I had throughout this. I broke down, a lot, to my ladies. I shouldn’t have, they were going through so much worse than I, cushioned in the safety of the North, but we all supported each other. That is what we do when living in an enforced hell.

With our group, every single experience hit close to home. And we shared it all. Without them, I would be in a heap on the floor.

We have had an unbelievable outpouring of support from friends and family, so much more than I could have ever expected. I have gained new, very close friends out of the experience.

I am so grateful for Facebook. I lived on Facebook. There is much to be said for the effects of social media. We fought hard to get the truth out. There is nothing more frustrating than knowing exactly what was happening on the ground and the completely skewed version that international media presented to the world. I am so proud of those who stepped up to the PR challenge. It was no easy task.

Minutes ago, I finally found out why my muscles had not been able to relax in days. My husband just shared a tiny portion of what he had not shared up until now. He wasn’t where we thought he was and there were some very close calls. I knew he was withholding. It is essential that he did. I just never let myself think about it. It would have driven me over the edge.

He says they are coming home soon. He told me last night that I could go to sleep with a smile on my face. I didn’t tell him that I would only be able to smile the moment he walks through our front door.

I don’t know what he has been through. Whatever it was, it was not good. May I be able to be a pillar for him when he returns. May he sleep. A lot.

I am spent. But we all are. That is the reality of it. Yet, oddly enough, it feels to me like we are reverting right back to last Friday. The last normal day we had as a family.

Maybe this Friday, just before Shabbat falls, we will be able to be together as a family again. Maybe on Saturday, our son will be able to spend his third birthday with his Abba. May all of our reservists be reunited with their families. May we really, truly have a Shabbat Shalom.

About the Author
Safra made aliya in 1997, and has been involved in the Jewish world both professionally and voluntarily throughout her life. She currently resides near Haifa and owns a small translation business. Safra is married and has one son.