Today, as I was driving my son and his friends back to their army base I thought to myself:
What would 20-year-old you say if she could see you now?
Heck, what would 30-year-old you say?
And I had to just shake my head in admiration of where life has taken me. And say a blessing for the life I’ve been given and the ability to bring my soldier and his teammates back to their base.
It really is a wonder to stop once in a while and look at our lives. Most people stay on a pretty steady trajectory throughout their lives. They live not too far from where they grew up; or perhaps if they’ve moved “away,” it’s more often than not in the country where they were born; and they probably aren’t taken by surprise, too much, by where they are at the age of 40 or 50.
But when you move around the world to an entirely different country and culture, there are these moments that just completely take you by surprise.
And almost 18 years after moving, I am still struck by them.
How could I ever have imagined as a girl growing up in Southern California that I would find myself on this tense, trying Sunday morning driving four gorgeous, spirited, fearless soldiers to their base? All smooshed together in the back of my too-small car and laughing about this or that.
I’ve traded those vast ocean views for rolling mountains.
I’ve traded conversations that roll off the tongue in the language of my childhood for voyeuristic admiration as I listen to my son and his friends bantering in their shared, holy language.
I’ve traded soccer carpools for army base runs.
When I was 16 and visiting Israel, 20 and touring, I looked to these soldiers with such distant admiration. They were solid, determined and so foreign to my understanding of the world.
And today, so many years later, one of them is my son.
It’s been a tough week around here, and it’s probably going to continue to be one.
And today, the hug that I could give to our heroes was to drive four of them to base, so they didn’t have to scramble for buses.
For most people, when they hear about a terror attack, they worry about those who are hurt and murdered. I do, as well.
But what you don’t hear about is what comes afterwards.
Of the missions to find the terrorists, or the missions to find more terrorists. And the missions to stop terror before it happens, to thwart plans, to capture weapons.
When a terror attack happens here, I mourn deeply for those lost and those left physically and emotionally hurt; but I quiver with my own fear and anticipation because I know those guys, those beautiful boys in my car, will have a long night ahead.
And I pray for their safety; I pray for the ability to drive them next time and to hear them banter in Hebrew, and to hear them tease each other and recount weekend antics.
And I pray that their week should pass without incident and that they should have the opportunity, next week or the week after, to get that ride again to base.
With the American-Israeli mom who can’t quite believe this is her life.
And who, today, felt overwhelmingly privileged to be stuck in Jerusalem traffic; to be double parked and honked at waiting for one soldier to find his way to us; to be the one transporting these heroes back to their base and to their missions.
And as they walked away from the car and to their base, I wiped at my tears; tears of admiration for my son and my life; tears of worry and fear; tears of anger that we are asked to endure so much.
And tears of hope that the bravery on my son’s face will transfer to mine and that we should be free, as Pesach approaches, to live in our Land with joy and safety.
As these children, our own children, protect us here, in the Holy Land.