adventure, army, travel, war

Moments in Time

I love my Facebook memories. They often bring back such great moments and funny things that the kids have said and done.

Yesterday, however, was a different kind of memory. Four years ago, right before starting the army, my oldest son went skydiving with three friends. I was nervous, of course, and checked in with him in the middle of the day to see if they had already jumped. He (smartly) didn’t respond. And then I received just this message,

“I’m alive.”

At the time, it made us laugh. He was smart enough not to tell me right before he jumped, but to simply let us know after that all was fine.

But now, oh now. Little could we possibly have known that those words would become so painful to read in a Facebook memory. On that day, he jumped with three high school friends, and one of them is no longer alive.

“I’m alive.”

How powerful are those words now. What would Shilo‘s parents give to have those words come from his phone today?

But they won’t. And they never will again because he was murdered by Hamas terrorists while defending his base and keeping dozens of others alive on October 7th.

“I’m alive.”

In addition to being one of my oldest son’s best friends, Shilo was my second son’s commander. And as that son raced south to his base on the morning of the 7th, he knew, already that his unit had taken very heavy loses.

Months later, he showed me that he had written to Shilo that fateful morning.

“Just tell me you are alive.”

And as so, so many messages did, this one went forever unanswered; forever suspended in time between hope and despair.

Shilo’s parents have made a few short movies about various parts of his life, and the exuberant picture of the four young men skydiving has been included in many of the films (and on a TV feature about Shilo). It was such a life-affirming moment for them; a time to let loose and challenge themselves before the army; to do something daring and exhilarating. While I was apprehensive when they jumped, I am so very happy that they had that experience and that my son and his other friends have this memory of their time together with Shilo. The wild and crazy days of youth, of a promising future, of hope.

Now, having finished his army service until he is called again for reserves, this son has left on a travel adventure.

As he walked out the door to the airport, I noticed the bracelet that he wears at all times in memory of Shilo.

“Do you want to leave it here?” I asked, knowing the answer.

“No,” he said. “Shilo is coming with us on this adventure too.”


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