We’re nearing the end of a personal count down, first it was six months, then three months, then four weeks. As July comes to an end we’re down to just a little more than two weeks before our fourth son makes aliyah, and then just a few months after that before he becomes our fourth lone soldier. It doesn’t get easier, if anything it gets harder, exponentially harder. I’m a mom so hence I worry, a lot, but this is what they dream of and so we stand there proudly as they go for that dream.
I just read a beautiful article about the difference between Olim and their children born in Israel. It pointed out how different their attitudes and reactions are to what’s happening right now in Israel. I think that the author was spot on but I would add that those young chayalim-to-be who are making aliyah right now have the same attitude and reaction as those who are Sabras. They want to prove that they will not be held back, they will not hide or shrink away, they will stand up and fight if they have to in order to protect their homeland Israel. They make me so very proud and at the same time not just worried but frightened to my core.
For good and bad this summer is reminding me more and more of the summer three years ago. Back then our first chayal was just finishing his training, we naively thought that meant that as war broke out his unit would be stationed protecting a border and not in Gaza, we were wrong. That same summer our second son made Aliyah, in the middle of a war, his intention to serve his homeland resolute. This summer our third chayal is in the exact same part of his training as our first was three years ago, this just as our fourth makes Aliyah and as things are heating up once again.
As events began to unfold after the killings on the Temple Mount I felt in the pit of my stomach that this summer was going to be much like that one three years ago. So I’ve self-diagnosed and believe I’m suffering from PTMSD – Post Traumatic Mom Stress Disorder, I’d love nothing more than to take a leave of absence from the worry, unfortunately I don’t think that’s a thing. Each tragedy in Israel throws me back to my memories of three years ago. I’ve stopped looking at my “on this day” posts on Facebook, those from three years ago cause my PTMSD to kick in. They pop up and just like that I’m back in that summer. I’m in tears remembering the absolute fright, the sick with worry, and the horrible sadness for the families who lost their beautiful children. Back then those posts were just efficient ways of letting friends and family know that our son was ok, when so many others, too many others weren’t.
This summer is different though, instead of just one son in Israel serving his homeland we have three and one more on his way. Not three times the worry, as I said earlier, that kind of things grows exponentially. Living in North America during the summer of Operation Protective Edge was lonely, of course our family and friends were very supportive but they couldn’t truly understand. There aren’t many in our community with children in the IDF and at that time we were still relatively new to it ourselves. This summer is different, easier in some ways because through social media I have become a part of a broader community of lone soldier parents. As I’ve said before my comrades “in arms” are fellow moms who can relate to exactly what I’m feeling and support me in a way only they can. But also harder in that being a part of that community also comes with knowing that some of my friends have kids who serve in “hot” areas or were first responders to the tragedy in Halamish and it includes friends who have lost sons in previous wars.
The 3rd yahrzeit of Max Steinberg ז”ל was just a few days ago and the 11th yahrzeit of Michael Levin ז”ל will be in just a few days from now. Max’s mom and Michael’s mom are now my friends, part of my legion of comrades “in arms”. I cried for them and their children before I knew them because each soldier is truly one of our own and now this amazing group of moms holds each other up as to not let any one of us drown in our collective tears. I also marvel at Max’s and Michael’s moms, their absolute strength and the way they support those of us with lone soldiers, they selflessly tell us that their sons are watching over and protecting ours as only they can and I cry some more.
As I prepare to send another son home to Israel to live and serve, I pray that my worrying can be done and that there will be peace for our kids and all of Israel, not just for the rest of this summer, but going forward forever.