This morning I received a translation of a letter written by Gilad Shalit's mother. Today I will pray for Gilad ben Aviva's release from captivity which is long ovedue.
This is my son. The first life that I created. Part of my body my soul and my love. I heard his voice for 20 years. From the moment he arrived in this world to our last telephone conversation:
“ Mom, I am returning home, can you hear me. “
I heard his voice as clearly as I heard his first cry as a baby. I can still hear his cry at night when he was a child. You never gave me peace to
sleep at night. I used to lie next to you pacifying you. When you were sick the first time, I was so worried about you. I took you to your first day at school and you made me promise that I would return to bring you home. This I promised you. I have never broken my promises to you. I have all your drawings on the fridge and the walls of the kitchen so that you would know that this is your home amongst your drawings and the memories of you.
You grew up to quickly in front of my old and tired eyes. At your barmitzvah I suddenly saw how quickly you had grown. I was the proudest
mother in the world. You grew up to be successful, charming and clever. (This is my son, I thought then, this is my son)
When you started going out with your friends part of me would go with you. I used to hug you and ask you to be careful.
“Don’t worry mom, I am a big boy”
I used to wake up at night looking at my watch and thinking, where are you, I am waiting for you to return home. All I wanted was for you to come back safely. When I heard you falling into bed from exhaustion, I knew that you were home safely with me. Then I would be able to go to sleep myself peacefully. When you got your driving license, I used to pray that you would travel safely and not swerve into the gutter and you would not knock another car. I hoped you would not drive if you did not have to. You never disappointed me and you were always responsible and happy. I was always thrilled to see your smile even though I had had sleepless nights worrying about you.
When you received your first call up papers to the army, my heart skipped a few beats. You were only 17 years old. You came back very proud and happy with big bright shinny eyes. I wished that you would not have to go to combat and that you would not get called to a dangerous
You just wanted to protect your country. It is not the country that raised you, it is Me, I who raised you. The day that you shut the door behind you and you travelled to do your army service. I counted the days till you would return home. I decided then and there that I would go to shul and to thank G-d and ask him to return my son to me safely. Instead of going out I would wash your uniforms and prepare food for when you would come home.
The day that I heard loud knocking on the front door, I knew something was terribly wrong. I opened the door praying that I would not see what I saw. Two uniformed army personnel and an army medic. One was your commander and he held my hand tightly. I did not have to hear the words he was telling me. The darkness cut the blood supply from my veins in my arm and I understood that something was terribly wrong.
In the news they show your photographs. I go to shul and I pray. I pray all the time, even when I am sleeping, I am praying. This is my son, my son who was snatched into Gaza. My son who might never return.