Stacie Rojas Stufflebeam
Professional Lone Soldier Mom

Today all I can manage is to breathe, and cry

I’m the proud mom of five sons, four who have served as lone soldiers. All of my soldier sons now serve as reservists.

Each of our kids has their own unique ringtone, they think it’s hilarious but I like to be prepared for whose calling.

So, at 4:30 a.m. on October 7th when my cell phone rang with the Looney Toons theme song we knew it was our youngest son calling. He was calling to tell us that he had been called up for miluim, reserve duty. He told us that someone was on their way to pick him up, so he didn’t have time to talk, and he didn’t know when he’d be able to call us again.

We hung up from that call confused and in shock, at that point we didn’t know about the thousands of rockets that had been fired into Israel and that our kids had spent hours in the bomb shelter. And of course we didn’t yet know about the NOVA massacre, or the kibbutz infiltrations or the kidnappings. All we knew was that something terrible had happened in Israel and our son was going in, going to defend our homeland. His phone call was followed quickly by our other sons telling us the same thing, including one son who now lives in Miami and was getting on the first flight he could find so that he could join his unit, and another who was out of the country and cutting his vacation short so he could join his unit.

As the next couple of days unfolded and we saw the horror, the terror, the barbarism that had occurred, we waited for any word from our sons. And while this was all personally affecting us, my role as director of the Michael Levin Lone Soldier Foundation also meant that I was fielding calls, and texts, and emails from other lone soldier parents as we started to navigate what would turn out to be a very long road.

Three days after the first call, we got another call from our youngest son. The sound of the Looney Toons theme song meant he was ok; he had his phone! But it was one of the hardest calls I’ve ever had. He and his entire unit were given their phones to call home, they were going on a mission and without saying it we knew that this call was because they didn’t know if they would ever be calling again. So, what do you say? We asked him how he was, because he sounded exhausted, his answer was, ‘I’m half numb and half scared to death, and there are going be things I’ll need to deal with — after’. We know now that on October 7th his unit was sent to Kfar Aza, I don’t know any details, and I thank G-d that he has his father and brothers to talk to about the things that he saw and the missions that he was on.

Like many Hebrew words that are actually English ‘after’ is a Hebrew word. An ‘after’ means a short time off from the army, but unlike the Hebrew this is not a short ‘after’ but an after that not only all the soldiers, but all of Israel will be dealing with.

Since October my sons have served in the North and in the South, in Gaza and most likely in Lebanon. All were recently released — for now — and so we, like thousands and thousands of others are beginning to deal with the after, at least until their next call up.

But Jews and Israelis are resilient. Like the transition from Yom HaZikaron to Yom Ha’Atzmaut I see my kids – who have gone to too many funerals over the last 7 months – are also going to weddings and celebrating simchas with friends. They continue to live and to fight just as we must. So I continue to breath in and out, put one foot in front of the other, advocate for Israel, and pray for the safe return of the hostages, for an end to the worldwide anti-semitism, and for peace in Israel.

We are so thankful that when the war started we were surrounded by family, friends who are like family, and our warm Jewish community that is standing with us, united in supporting Israel now and forever.

About the Author
An ordinary Mom with extraordinary sons. Stacie Rojas Stufflebeam is a the Mother of five sons, four of them are reservist lone soldiers in the IDF. She serves as Executive Director of the Michael Levin Lone Soldier Foundation. and lives with her husband in the USA.
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