Finally, the day has come.
For the past few weeks, my wife (and me too, at least a little bit) helped ready our older two boys for camp. We purchased, labeled, organized and packed up four years’ worth (oh, sorry, I meant four weeks’ worth) of clothing, food, fishing rods, and other paraphernalia. We brought them to the bus this morning and sent them off with a teary good bye, knowing that we would not see them for (less than) two weeks. And then we came home and exhaled, sensing that things were about to get a bit quieter around the house (assuming that their younger siblings were prepared to cooperate).
To be honest, we’ve been waiting for this day for a while. You see, in addition to teh long-awaited quiet, there are a lot of things around the house that need attention, primarily in terms of organizing and (perish the thought) giving away (such as old clothes and unused toys). Neither my wife nor I could begin to wrap our heads around that project until the camp readying endeavor and sendoff were complete.
However, throughout the entire loading(car)-unloading(car)-loading (bus) process this morning, I could not help but to think about three sets of parents who would not be bringing their respective sons to another camp or school bus. These parents would never again have the uneven experience of packing their boys up or debating what’s in, what’s out, what’s going and what’s staying home. They will never be able to look forward to a few weeks of added peace, knowing that their boys were away with friends having a grand ‘ol time in some grungy bunkhouse in the middle of Yehupitzville (the one in PA, not NY). For the parents of Eyal, Gilad and Naftali, this summer offers nothing in the way of respite and relaxation.
There are so many lessons that we can learn from the tragic abduction and murder of these special boys. Many have penned beautiful essays about the way that our oft-splintered nation came together, in thought and deed, and found its soul once again. The immeasurable volumes of prayer, the countless acts of kindness, all made a profound impact, even if we can’t quite see how at the present time.
But perhaps the most powerful lesson for me, in the midst of all of the pain and confusion, has been how important it is to appreciate what we have, and to see each child and each moment together as a true blessing.
I read the brave words of Naftali’s mother Racheli, who shared with thousands of mourners in Sha'alvim that “from the first day, we told ourselves that even if it ends badly, G-d has rewarded us.” Meanwhile in Talmon, Gilad's sister Shirel recalled during her eulogy “the arguments when I tried to wake you up, but even when you got upset you did it respectfully.”
None of us have the lexicon to offer meaningful comfort to these three bereaved families. But we can offer our continued support and prayers that they will find the strength to carry forward. We can also give our own children a hug and remind ourselves of the precious gift of parenthood.
“The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” (Job 1:21)