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Waiting…For a Soldier
February 22 2009

I apologize for my one track writing…
My friends have all told me not to write another piece about Gilad Shalit. “No need, he will be home ‘soon’. So, I have been writing about our elections (drought), the water shortage (drought), the economy (drought), some medical articles, an optimistic short story about a future yet to materialize, a piece about abuse and pain….
I do have it all…My vision, to write and be read. I have my love sleeping warmly, beside me night after night. My own boys, both are well and healthy in body and spirit, in spite of the wars, the economy, the elections, and my fears.
So I have waited. Now the elections are over and we still don’t have a government. We have had seemingly endless rain, yet we are still in a drought. The economy…we have had and still have – a drought; isn’t that another word for lack of income?
So, I have waited. We have all waited. What is ‘soon’? I have many unanswered questions about ‘soon’. We should all have these questions. We all have sons, even if only symbolically speaking. He is approaching 1000 days of captivity. One thousand torturous days lost. One thousand days missing in the dark tunnels of Gaza. Does he ever see the sun? Does he feel the rain? Is he always hungry or thirsty? Does he have warmth? Does he have a bed? Does he remember what his parents and siblings look like? Does he remember the names of his friends? Does he even remember himself, Gilad Shalit, boy, man, soldier son, brother? I wonder, does Gilad know about ‘soon’? Does he know about us who can’t forget him…?
How strong is this boy turned soldier, turned captive, prisoner and symbol; lost to us, lost to his own self? Is he strong enough to continue standing there alone, waiting? ...Because for all of OUR talk – and yes I am talking about you, Elmert, Barak (do you even remember what you said before the elections?), and our special envoy to Egypt (since resigned?!!)- He is still there. Gilad Shalit has not been released. Gilad Shalit does not know when soon will be and neither do we.
Promise, soon, and release. These are actual real words that can be found in every English dictionary. The meanings of these words have been agreed upon. There is a consensus, a world-wide consensus – writers, linguists and regular people all know the meaning of these words.
The problem is political. In the political dictionary these words obviously have an alternate meaning….We, those of us who are not politicians, have yet to be enlightened as to the ‘alternative’, other, true meaning of the words promise, soon and release.
There is an irony here. For all of us who wait, and especially for Gilad, there is a sad, sadistic irony. Gilad Shalit’s capturers never said the words promise, soon and release in one sentence when referring to his captivity. They never said that we are close to resolving this horrific nightmare. They told us from the beginning that Gilad was theirs. They tell us this every day. They have been telling us this since, before Nachshon Wachsman, and yes, even before Ron Arad. They have been telling us this for a lifetime measured in the lives of each one of our parents, children and grandchildren.
More rockets are falling in the south, and sometimes in the north; more ‘exchange of fire’, another change in another government and no one is there any more to worry about Gilad.
I worry. I am afraid for him. I know that I am safe. My country is strong. We won’t be taken down and destroyed. I even know that for the moment, my boys are safe. But there will be more wars. This is clear to all who are literate and illiterate alike, clear to all who are awake and aware and live in this world. I have faith. I believe. I believe in G-d. I believe in my country. And yet, I do have fear.
So, I am here. I am again writing about and for Gilad Shalit. Is this it? Is this it? WHERE IS GILAD? When will his parents hold and hug his warm body safe in their arms? When will he laugh with his friends, study at university, travel, sleep in his own bed?
I wonder about Aviva Shalit. How does she do it? How does his mother breathe, move and function? As a mother I know she breathes and functions for him….somehow willing her strength to him. As a mother, I am afraid.
We’ve left Gilad Shalit. I am angry. I am ashamed…and I can’t help but wonder –my sons, my blood…? Will they, can they be left too?

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Comments from Our Readers

  "wow. what a powerful story. thank you so much for sharing your anger and frustration." - Maria Giudice, February 23 2009 - reply
  "every word is solid" - dov avidov, February 23 2009 - reply
  "Deep, sincere and strong. The reader feels the pain.... " - Rivka Inzelberg, February 23 2009 - reply
  "Very, very moving. So clearly expressed. We cry with you...and pray." - Barb, February 24 2009 - reply
  "its such a tragedy. the Israeli government owe all the jews that are conscripted to the army a duty of care. they need to do more to aide in the recovery of Gilad Shalit, empty words are not enough. My heart is with the Shalit family." - Fiona, March 10 2009 - reply

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