Arm Wrestling With God

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January 12, 2010, 2:30 AM (ten minutes to oath)

My heart hammers as we wrestle. He and I clasp arms. My blood pulses against the stitching of a two-day-old amputation, like a line of charging bayonets, venom through vein. This bodily pain barely fazes me – not while my mind blazes this way. My God.

arm westling

Morphine intoxicates the neurons lumbering about my skull and, soon, I lay slumped on the battlefield, convinced that victory is mine: Izzy, one. God, zero. And so here I sprawl, still as a corpse, though I know a CT scan of my brain would show all lobes firing at full thrust. I’m furious, yet euphoric – I’m spent, yet restless. And despite the warm bodies resting all around me, I’ve never felt so alone.

When sheets rustle beyond the curtain, the dim green numbers on the clock read 2:40 AM. “Izzy?” Aveshi rasps, before he clears his voice of slumber. “Did you say something?” I hear my squad mate struggling to sit up. We lie side-by-side, deep within the labyrinth of Soroka hospital in Beersheba. Like Aveshi, I’ve suffered a tremendous injury, but I have never seen my own future with such clarity. During these days in bed, one blending into the other, coming in and out of an opiate daze, a picture of my future coalesced. I know what I have to accomplish. “I’m going back,” I grunt toward my brother in arms through the meds, through my clenched teeth. “I’m going back to combat.”

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