color: SOME SOLDIER'S MOM: Far Side of the Moon

Friday, January 28, 2005

Far Side of the Moon

Also known as the dark side of the moon. According to Wikipedia, the far side of the moon was sometimes referred to as the "Dark Side" due to the lack of human knowledge concerning that hemisphere. The word "dark" in a cultural context was actually meant to express a lack of information, rather than the actual lighting conditions. And as we all know since “Appollo 13” and “From the Earth to the Moon” (let's just leave the whole Pink Floyd thing out of it), there is no communication with the rest of the human race when you’re on the far/dark side.

That’s what it feels like now. The lack of information AND the lack of communication. It can make you a little nuts. It’s not that we haven’t gone for days without speaking to our son in the past; we have gone weeks without speaking to each other. For instance, when our son was in junior high school, he was an exchange student to France for a term and, after a while, we got used to not hearing from him. In fact, after a while we didn’t mind not hearing from him since (a) no news = good news, and (b) he only called when he needed more money. And of course as our son got older and more independent, we realized that the lack of information on some things was not always a bad thing.

When he joined the Army, we got a perfunctory call when he got to boot camp and, of course, we worried, but we knew it was for a limited period of time and that eventually the silence would be broken. We knew where he was, pretty much what he was doing (again in this instance, the lack of details was not necessarily a bad thing), and that the Army would do all it could to minimize the risk. When he became regular Army, he retrieved his cell phone from home and communication became fairly regular, and we were guaranteed to hear from him if he was running short of funds. Then there was Airborne training, then weeks training in the field, and of course JRTC. Again, no news was good news. When push came to shove, we could always dial the cell phone, hear his voice, and leave a message. Then there was email and instant messaging, but telephones were now, this minute, and were on almost 24/7.

What makes the current period of silence even more difficult is the situation. For the first time in my life -- his life -- we have no clue where he really is, what he’s doing, what’s going on around him. Knowing that he’s having a life altering experience but not being able to ask all the details is maddening. What we do know makes it worse. It’s Iraq. The elections. The escalation of violence. And it’s exasperating that the silence is open-ended. Don’t know when it will end. So this deployment -- early as it is -- is already schooling me in new measures of patience. Knowing that he will call (eventually) takes a bit of the edge off. But I’m really bad. I have the patience of a gnat.

Knowing that he’ll call or email compels me to check my instant message screen whenever I am on my computer to see if his screen name is highlighted… in case I missed the “Moo.” I check my email a few times a day to see if he’s written yet. I keep my cell phone on whenever I’m away from the house and we’ve begun forwarding our home phone to our cell phone when we’re out. I know we will hear… as soon as spaceship OIF3 emerges from the dark side of the moon.


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