One More Day

Paula R. Stern,

לבן ריק
לבן ריק
צילום: ערוץ 7
Paula R. Stern
Paula R. Stern is CEO and founder of WritePoint Ltd., a leading technical writing company offering documentation services and training seminars. She made aliyah in 1993 when her oldest son was 6 years old. In March 2007, Elie entered the Artillery Division of the Israeli army and Paula began writing about her experiences as A Soldier"s Mother. The blog continues as Elie moved on to Reserve Duty, her second son, Shmuel served in Kfir and continues as her youngest son David now serves in Givati. She recently opened a publishing house, helping other authors fulfill their dream to publish. Links to the Author's blogs: * A Soldier"s MotherPaulaSays Israel Blogger...

Tomorrow.

Tomorrow, I will have another soldier in active service, in a combat unit though not yet combat ready. Tomorrow they will give him a uniform, perhaps even a gun (no bullets, not yet, but first he will learn the feel of the gun, the responsibility for its care, its use). Tomorrow, my youngest son will enter the army. Tomorrow. I want to write about another terror attack last night in which 5 people, including a young girl, were stabbed...about a town terrorized and in lock down for hours until police and security found the terrorist hiding in the yard of one house. How they announced there would be no school today if the terrorist was not found because we do not risk our children. I want to write of a horrible attack in Mali, in which 20 people were killed - including one Israeli who was there consulting on educational programs and of how Brussels is on alert, saying they have credible intelligence of a planned terror attack there.

I want to write about Jonathan Pollard - finally free and yet not free. He remains a prisoner of a country that made and broke an agreement and then spread falsehoods. He was never accused of treason. He was never convicted of selling secrets. He never betrayed the United States. In fact, all he did was pass military intelligence reports to an ally that was supposed to receive those same reports through official agreements. The US government violated those agreements and then violated a plea bargain agreement it made to keep secret its treachery. And now, rather than release Pollard to finally spend the last years of his life in Israel, he is forced to remain in a land that does not want him and in a place that he does not want to be for secrets that are 30 years old.

I want to write of the coming of winter here in Israel; of the beautiful rain storms we've been having.

I want to write...so many thoughts in my head and yet only one fills the moment. David. He's too young...but he's not really. He's 19, almost 20...just as older brothers were...just as thousands of other Israeli boys were and are but to me he is just too young and this day came just too soon.

He's my baby...but he's really not. He's the tallest of my sons...a baby he's not. He's been volunteering for the ambulance squad for more than four years. He now teaches others about first aid; he's seen horrific accidents, had people die while he tried to help save their lives.
 

It should be easier this time. I keep telling myself...it should be easier. One brother helped him look over the list of things it is recommended that David buy; both brothers gave him some or their army things. Each of his brothers - by genetics and by love - are offering their advice and support. His oldest adopted brother is excited that David will be going into his unit - another Givati soldier.

"Are you nervous?" I said to him quietly during Shabbat lunch. There's no reason to explain - it is as much in his head as mine. He waved his hand - a signal for a bit. I don't know if that makes it better or worse.

During dinner we spoke of his dog tags, given to him months ago. I asked him if he knew where they were...if he was sure. Later he brought them down. They are a terrible thing for a mother to see, to hold. There was a discussion about how Americans use dog tags versus how Israelis use them. A conversation no mother should hear. For them, they are words; words that make the future less scary. For me, they are part of a picture I don't want to see...ever.

There are no words for these hours. They are horrible. Part of me wants the clock to stop so that I don't ever have to face that moment; part of me knows that I'm making it so much worse for myself and he'll be fine and the best thing would be just to get to that moment so that we can all see it is really just a part of being Israeli.

He really will be fine. He knows more...I know more...we all understand. He will go on Monday where he will be given a uniform. He will probably sleep there...or they'll take him to a base somewhere in Israel. He'll call me. Maybe he'll even send me a picture. By this time tomorrow, my stomach will have settled; my tears will have dried. The next few months are all about training. That's all. No one will be sending him to battle; no gun fights. His greatest danger will likely be dehydration and exhaustion...and he's strong and capable and the army watches over them, forces them to drink, to rest. The training is intense, but gradual. There's really nothing to worry about...other than everything that I'm worried about...

I will again be a soldier's mother, even though somehow during this break between my middle son and this one, it felt like I never really stopped. My oldest son received a call up for his next Reserve duty. In January, I'll have two in for a brief time. There are many who have two in all the time; I met a woman who was buying clothes for her 6th soldier...I know a woman with 8 boys...who is only now beginning.

I got off easy, I guess...three boys...this is my third and final journey on this roller coaster. I've never liked roller coasters...I don't need the thrill of the fall...I'm more for cruising along and seeing what there is to see.

The advice I have given to so many now becomes mine for the coming years...one day...one day at a time. Today he is home, packing, talking to friends, hopefully cleaning his room. Today he is fine; he is safe, he is mine and mine alone. Tomorrow he becomes a son of all of Israel but tomorrow is a lifetime away right now.

Today...today he is mine.