| War Diaries |

Till They Come Home 

 I told my husband on Motzaei Simchas Torah not to come home until the soldiers do


e’s home.

He’s home, and as of tonight, he’s going to be sleeping in his bed in his room at my parents’ home.

That’s a good thing.

That means that when I wake up in the dead of night to feed my baby, I won’t have to wonder if he’s at his outpost in the Judean Hills, alone, in the deep darkness and cold wind, one lone soldier with just a gun.

It means he’s not eating army rations in the dining room, or asking friends to save him a portion if he’s on duty during mealtime — now he’ll be eating Mommy’s cooking again.

It means he’s not spending his days and nights in uniform anymore. It means he’s given in his gun for a different soldier to use, while his unit goes home to rest.

It means that after four full months, his reserve duty has ended.

But the war’s not over. Is it? Everything’s so normal. There are no sirens here anymore. In my circles, no one listens to or reads or talks about the news.

But no, it’s not over.

Soldiers are dying.

Soldiers like my brother. His unit could have gone into Gaza; in fact, my brother was offered a transfer at some point. Combat is combat, after all. But lucky for me, and for my mother, he was stationed at a quiet post deep inside the West Bank, with swaths of massive Arab towns dominating the landscape, and tiny Jewish settlements scattered around like sprinkles.

Soldiers are still fighting. War is still raging. On the Lebanese border, war is still threatening. At the Kupat Cholim where I work, the management called a meeting to discuss a scenario where Hezbollah is bombarding Israel with 6,000 missiles a day, causing damage to water lines and electricity grids, damage that may not be able to be repaired due to the rocket fire. The reason for the meeting? To discuss how we’ll be able to provide medical care for the sick and injured while under incessant rocket fire, in the dark, with no running water.

I feel sick. What about my kids? Am I supposed to leave them at home and go to work? With sirens wailing and explosions and — no, not happening. Sorry, that’s just not happening.

My brother’s home. The war in Gaza isn’t over. And there’s another war that has barely even begun.

What about my husband? On Motzaei Simchas Torah, I sent him to the beis medrash and told him not to come home until the soldiers do. It’s been six months, and we’ve stuck with it, weaving reams of protection around our soldiers and our nation. He comes home close to midnight for some sleep, and he’s around for the Shabbos seudos. The rest of the time, he’s learning, and we don’t talk at all during the day, not even by phone.

But now what? If my brother’s been released, can I release my husband, too? He’s happy as a lark; he’d love to continue this. But it’s been lonely and a little challenging to be a single parent all this time. So… can he come home? My brother has.

But so many others haven’t.

And so many others won’t. Ever.

Their wives, their sisters, their children, and their mothers, their families and grandparents and uncles and aunts and cousins, and friends, and coworkers, and neighbors, and employers and employees… they’re never going to welcome them home from war, battle weary and exhausted.

It’s too sad, too heartbreaking, too terrible to think about.

I’m happy my brother is home. I’m relieved.

I’m also so confused.

I feel twisted inside, a great big ball of grief and anger and confusion, pain and sadness and salty tears. I feel bewildered, fragmented. I’m glad that Gabi’s home. I want to bring my husband home, too. I miss him. I miss his help and his company.

But there’s still so much danger. Daily, desperate danger, deep in the cities of Gaza and Khan Younis. There are still sirens, dozens of them, rockets being fired at the North almost every day.

When I told my husband on Motzaei Simchas Torah not to come home until the soldiers do, I thought they’d all come home together. Victorious. And preferably, with Mashiach at their head. I didn’t imagine it would take this long… and I didn’t realize that so many soldiers would be coming home while the war still rages.

I try to steady my breathing. I try to remember that we’re taught that the night is darkest before dawn. I have to keep stumbling forward, despite the mess of conflicting emotions tumbling around inside. And I have to trust that a new day must break, soon, a day of clarity… a Day of Redemption.

May it be very soon.


(Originally featured in Family First, Issue 888)

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