color: SOME SOLDIER'S MOM: Every Parent's Nightmare

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Every Parent's Nightmare

I believe that it is every parent's nightmare that something will happen to their child and that they can't get there. My sleeping and waking nightmare is hearing any of my children crying out for me and I'm not able to get to them. It was the singular reason that for many years I turned down more prestigious and lucrative positions in New York City and chose to stay with a suburban company close to my home and my children when they were growing up. I could not bear the thought that there might be an emergency and I would not be there when my child needed me.

This was the first thought that went through my mind yesterday when first I heard of the Marine helicopter crash in Iraq. That the mothers and fathers and spouses and children of those men could not get to their sons, husbands, fathers will haunt me for a long time. It made me weep that other Marines that have the most unenviable job in the service would visit the families of these brave Marines. It made me comment to my husband that I would become completely dysfunctional -- catatonic -- if soldiers ever showed up at our door. I said I might actually refuse to answer the door. "Why would you not answer the door?" he asked inquisitively and with disbelief. "Because there is a part of my brain that believes that if they can't speak those words, then they can't ever be true." It happened when my twin sister called and told me that one of my brothers had died at the age of 49. "No he didn't." Those were the first words out of my mouth to her. It would be 10 times that if soldiers ever came to my door.

When you have a child in the military you do think those thoughts. You are especially prone to transient, fleeting maudlin thoughts when your child heads to a place where they are shooting at him, trying to propel missiles through his vehicle or attempting to blow him off the face of the Earth. You try desperately to avoid thinking about the possibility. You chastise yourself if such a thought creeps into your brain.

It doesn't help that occasionally you are made to talk or think about the possibility that your child might die (it has taken me the better part of 2 hours to just type those words). When our son came home on leave just weeks before his deployment, he made a big deal of hanging his Class A (dress uniform) in his closet and was making sure that all his ribbons and medals were in place, that his shoes were shined, the shirt and tie hung with care. When I said, "Don't worry about it... it will just get wrinkled when I ship it back to you," he replied, "No, the Army might ask for it." "Ask for your uniform? Why in heaven's name would they ask for your uniform?" He just gave me a look, and I instantly understood. We spoke not a word, and he continued putting his uniform SOP. You may tell your soldier that you are thinking of them, praying for them, proud of them. You may never write or speak the unthinkable, the unspeakable. They know you worry. They tell you not to worry. It's a time-honored exchange.

The other time the topic ever even remotely was discussed was when he was recently making out his will -- which the Army recommends before deployment. One of the items to be addressed was where he wanted to be buried. His answer was, "Wherever you and Dad decide." We left it at that, and I admonished myself that we will never have to make that determination. That, today, there are 31 families making that determination twists my heart tremendously. I want every one of those families to know that my family, many, many other Americans and I are thinking of them and praying for them. We honor their sons, their husbands, their fathers.


At 1/27/2005 3:03 PM , Blogger Sean from DocintheBox said...

Great looking blog, welcome to the blogsphere!

At 1/27/2005 5:56 PM , Blogger Shar said...

I second Sean's welcome.

It just breaks a person's heart to have to think of those poor familes.

Isn't the computer a wonderful means of communication! Nothing like hearing the voice, but still pretty darn wonderful.
(comment for your previous post)

I have to say, you are a very efficient, get the job done, kind of mom, lots of credit to you on getting that phone card and the lubricant! Big Whoo hooos!

Take care

At 1/27/2005 9:19 PM , Blogger CaliMom said...

Wow ... You very eloquently expressed my thoughts and feelings for the past eleven months. At times of weakness you allow the "What If" thoughts to creep into your mind. You then dismiss them with a "that would never happen to my son". I feel that if I allow those thoughts they just may come true.

I discuss my feelings only with my sister. Many people know my son is deployed to Iraq and when they ask How is he doing? When is he coming home? You say out of reflex "Good" and "Sometime in March hopefully". It is painful to answer the questions, as they can not begin to understand the depth of your constant worry.

I am constantly watching the news and reading online news sources, trying to glean information, trying to comprehend what it must be like for him. When my son calls he wants to talk about anything but Iraq and what he does there, so I don't push for information, rather I seek it elsewhere.

I found your blog as I was reading a comment you posted on another website. We both mentioned the lack of FRG support for "Moms". Thanks for doing this. I look forward to experiencing your son's journey through deployment in Iraq. We are kindred souls though we have never met.

God bless and comfort the families of all soldiers.

At 1/27/2005 10:56 PM , Blogger Some Soldier's Mom said...

Thanks, CaliMom. I didn't think I could worry about my kids any more than I already did... but when my son got on that plane, it all ratcheted up a notch -- and he hasn't left Kuwait yet! When people ask me how I'm going to deal with his being there, I joke that I'm going to order up a mainline IV of valium! My admiration for all the mothers who have children there is immense -- and it's over the moon for those moms and dads that are sending their son or daughter back a second time! Please stay in touch...

At 2/01/2005 5:03 PM , Blogger Jen said...

Wow. This was beautiful and heartbreaking and inspiring and... wow.

At 2/06/2005 11:41 AM , Blogger Bon said...

Ahhh Soldier's Mom. You voice so eloquently our thoughts. Thank you, not so much for me, but for the other mother's whose soldiers are serving in harms way as we write our thoughts here. They are all our soldiers.

I'm pushed to post here by your saying you might actually refuse to answer the door should you see those class A's standing on your doorstep. Perhaps your husband didn't understand at first, but I do. I refused to answer the door myself for three different door bell ringings one afternoon. I saw shiny shoes (not the rest of the uniform) from my peeking place at a window, somehow in my mind I refused to recognize those and decided instead it was some young man from some church trying to convert me.

It has been over a year since I finally answered the door and I am no longer catatonic and only on rare occasions dysfunctional (who said I was "normal" to begin with? :D) I laugh, I love, I have fun, I live my life as fully as I can. My son's favorite quote was "always look at the bright side of life" re Monty Python...I try hard to make that the lesson of my days.

We, families, we too serve, and some of us are lucky to have our own "platoons" to train with, to be supported by. I have a very special bunch of 19 other Mom's with soldiers in various services who support me every day, as I support them. I hope that you do as well.

hugs from one Mom to another

At 7/31/2005 4:59 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...



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