Welcome home, Gilad Shalit, our brother soldier.

There’s no doubt: this is bittersweet.

Today we’re proud. We’re relieved. We’re emotional. We’re exhausted.

Tomorrow we’re going to continue mourning. We’re going to be extra cautious. We’re going to be angry. We’re going to feel even more pain.

Today we can be mothers of lost soldiers. Mothers waking up from a nightmare.

Tomorrow we’ll be mothers constantly on the lookout. Mothers in reality.

This has been a conflicted process, and there are simply no sufficient words for the people who are not able to hug their sons and daughters today… or any day… ever again. We can’t forget their pain – them being our brothers and sisters as well – especially as we’re at great risk to once again experience it in the future.

Something I loved today was the way Gilad and IDF Chief Ganz met and saluted, and then Ganz pulls him in for a giant fatherly hug.

A word on Gilad: It’s pretty amazing how composed he’s been. How much he’s been smiling. I guess I expected a different guy. Clearly exhausted, fatigued, malnourished, but still composed, orderly and calm.

Now that he’s home we should continue to pray that his health improves and he gains the ability to fulfill whatever role he’s meant to play next.

And that we should have no more Gilad Shalits, ever.

 


What could have been.

Being back ‘home’ is always a pleasure. After almost seven years, the bad has faded away, and the good nostalgia remains. The hometown is glorified, the old friends still taste fresh in a few quick bites.

It allows the pangs for what could have been to creep to the top. What could have been if I stuck around; what I could have been for my oldest friend in her times of need, what grandparents my parents could have been for my kids.

The flip side comes through at the last minute: What could have been if I had stayed with that guy, what could have been if I had gone for that publishing job in the city. The what could have beens that probably would have lead to the obvious conclusion for an alternative universe: what could have been if I had moved to Israel?