This is an open letter to the wife of a reserve soldier. I write it as the mother of three combat sons and now the mother of reserve soldiers. I was never the wife of a soldier. We came too late in life. My oldest son was only 6, but my husband was in his early 30s. Too old for the army. And so I had no experience, no contact until 13 years later.
Soon I will celebrate 25 years since I moved her with three small children. I know that I should have known that the day would come when my sons would put on the green uniform of the army of Israel. Somehow, I didn’t. Or, perhaps I did but didn’t understand what that meant.
In 25 years here, I have watched the cycle of battle again and again. Sometimes it’s an “almost” war; and sometimes it’s a real one. Which way it will go, is almost impossible to predict. Usually, I find believing it will be war is easier because most of the time, it doesn’t really turn into war. But when it does, you feel somehow…prepared.
On Facebook, I share posts constantly about the rockets that are again being fired at Israel. Too often, the media waits. Now, in several countries, they are correctly outraged that Hamas fired a rocket at a kindergarten in Israel.
There’s something about Facebook that brings out the Snarky in me. Part of that is a defense mechanism. I like to write funny things. Satire. Sarcasm. The angrier I get, the more sarcastic I become. A woman writes on one my posts that it isn’t funny. War isn’t funny. We should stop joking about it and do all we can to prevent war. I agree. Sort of. But I also disagree. And so, as I started to do many years ago when faced with the challenge of having a piece of my heart and your life at risk, I write.
And sometimes, I write to make others smile when smiling is the last thing on their mind, laugh when they can’t imagine laughing.
An Open Letter to the Reserve Soldier’s Wife
You don’t want us to laugh this thing away; you want us to be serious and fear war. We have to realize, you tell us, what is involved here. What war means.
And first I have to tell you. I know what war means. I have THREE combat soldiers. One has been to war TWO times. I don’t want any of them to go to war (or any son) because…because no one in Israel wants war. Because war is one of the most horrible realities for anyone, and that includes wives and mothers. Honestly, I don’t know if I can survive another war.
And yes, I know EXACTLY how it feels to have your son called up without warning…to watch him drive off and just want to die inside out of pure fear.
But there are realities that must be faced.
- Nothing we say or I write will change ANYONE’s mind or the outcome of whatever will happen.
- People need to smile. They need to breathe. And when they silly and sarcastic posts, they smile. Instead of being afraid, they join in the joke of naming an operation not yet launched. It’s easy to do because we know that not a single one of these “suggestions” will ever by used by the government.
- War comes to Israel – whether we “want” it or not. We never want it. We do EVERYTHING we can to avoid it…and still, every few years, it comes.
In another few weeks, it will be 25 years for me. I’ve seen more wars than I can count…my oldest son has been in two of them. My youngest is just out of the army. These missiles are part of my greatest fear.
Still, I will say again – until our enemies want peace…war is what we will get. It might happen this summer…it might happen tonight or tomorrow…it might “only” happen next summer…or the summer after that.
Posting on Facebook does not mean we are war hungry – it means we are angry and releasing our anger in a NORMAL way. We aren’t violent. We don’t explode buses and burn tires and ax and stab and ram people…we just post here on Facebook.
It isn’t harmful – it’s healthy…so please let us post and don’t be offended. Understand that this comes from a need to keep our greatest fears…which are very much the same as yours…deep inside.
Having a son in the army is not the same as having a husband there, but it is no less terrifying. As the mother of three combat soldiers, a mother who has known war, as my son has, here is my advice.
Find what brings you comfort. It could be by not listening to the news…or it could be like me – listening and listening and posting so the world knows what they are doing to us…and therefore, what we might have to do in return.
My younger daughter joked today about sending her just-released brother to America for the summer…and I found myself sitting there considering it…really considering it. If he even agreed to go, he’d fly back in a minute to be with his unit…and his is one of the ones that would go in…and I know his exact job in the unit.
I promise you, I’m terrified too…but I’m also angry and I’m going to make fun…and joke because at the worst moments in our lives…all we have is each other and our ability to comfort each other.
I don’t know where you live, but if you ever need a hug – call me and I’ll come running.