As a mom of four, now reservist, lone soldiers Whatsapp has been our communication mainstay for years. Now that my reservist sons have been called up, Whatsapp isn’t just a line of communication, it’s a gauge for my anxiety level.
Those two blue check marks on my Whatsapp chat have taken on a different meaning. Before the war, when I texted my kids and they didn’t answer right away, I’d look at Whatsapp to see; Had they seen my message? Were the check marks blue? Before the war when I saw those two blue check marks and they hadn’t responded I’d be annoyed, I’d think ‘why haven’t they answered me already’ what are they doing that’s more important than answering their mother?
Now? Now when I see two blue checks next to my message I have a flood, albeit temporary, of relief. He has his phone! He had time to see my message saying I love him! Sometimes I even get an ‘all good, love you too’ back, or even just a thumbs up or heart emoji. Who knew how much I’d love that thumbs up emoji now because any message from them is indescribably beautiful in this moment.
But then there’s the message that sits there with that one lonely check mark. Those are the ones I hate, the ones that increase my anxiety. We just spoke to one of our sons, he looked and sounded tired but good. I sent a message to him an hour later and all I see is that one check.
Yes, I know this is war and that he may only have his phone sporadically, and even then, for just little bits of time. But that one little check means I don’t know how he is, and my mind spirals to all the worst places. So, I’m either obsessively looking at Whatsapp to see if my message has gone through or I’m actively suppressing that urge – neither is healthy, neither is good.
We were lucky enough to have a family video call last week that included our soldiers. As a family with five sons, I can only speak to my own experience I don’t know if this happens in families where there are daughters, but our family conversations often manage to include some sort of gross stuff that only boys think is cool. As we talked about everything and nothing inevitably the conversation turned to how many days in a row you can justifiably wear a pair of underwear, and how many different ways you can turn it to make it ‘fresh’. The consensus was that you could wear them for three days at a time, and when I asked why three the answer was the obvious ‘just cause’. It was a good video call, one with some much-needed humor, a show of what they were being fed, and as much love sent over those air waves as we could fit in. Of course, we took a screen shot and now I look at it, in what feels like the six months that has passed since last Friday, and I smile.
As I’ve said before I feel pride and worry in equal measure, not just for my sons but for all the brave soldiers defending Israel. They are strong so I must show that same strength. Israel and the Jewish nation around the world has come together to support each other. I know that many have found strength in the supportive and inspirational videos going around, my strength is found with this photo and what it shows, our family – together.
For now I’m holding on to these random calls and blue check marks with all my might and praying that all of our soldiers return safely and quickly. I know I’m not alone.
Am Yisroel Chai