Welcome home, Gilad Shalit. We waited for you, and cried while you were gone. There is no greater pain than the pain of a mother whose child was abducted and put in prison. Your family has gone through difficult trials awaiting your return.
Your were denied your rights for a long time. You couldn’t make contact with those who love you, and you became a bargaining chip. But today you have returned to your family, to a safe place, a loving place, one that will never again abandon you.
You will once again sleep in your own bed. You will once again eat food prepared by your mother. You will be updated on family matters – about your aunts, uncles and grandparents. You will discover how much the nation has worried about you, in Israel and abroad – how many activities, protests and requests were sent to the four corners of the world just so that you would return home peacefully.
There is no better feeling than the soft bed sheets in your room. To smell the beloved odors of the home you grew up in. To feel its walls and look out at the surrounding scenery in anticipation of the impending winter, and then spring.
So many things have happened, but time stood still for your mother, father and family, and also for you. You lived without knowing anything about events transpiring in the world, without the ability to speak and make your voice heard, and without being able to stand up for your rights. Now, you can suddenly open your mouth again and speak, make your voice heard, and once again have full rights in this democratic country.
But don’t listen to all those voices calling on you to become a public figure. Stay within the confines of your family. Give them your love, and receive theirs. The most important thing now is to renew your love for each other, and ignore the commotion in the media. There is no greater pain than the one your family has experienced for the past few years. Each day was like a stab in the heart, a missed opportunity and a fateful journey during which there were no shoulders to lean on.
We are all excited for your arrival. There was plenty of worry throughout this prolonged process. We worried that something unexpected would suddenly prevent you from returning home. Every family wants their son or daughter to return home in peace. No one wants to raise a child for so many years, only to lose him or her in a moment.
Enter your home Gilad. Embrace your family’s love, and know that every passing moment they did everything they could to have you released. The small things in life will now become big things for you – your meals in the morning, afternoon and evening, birthdays, family celebrations, and holidays will all be the big events in your life now.
This is perhaps the greatest gift for someone who has been away from his home for so long – being able to experience the simple things in life. You will once again be able to experience faith and hope in a world that has disappointed you so much.