color: SOME SOLDIER'S MOM: Between Two Worlds

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Between Two Worlds

365 days ago, I stood at Fort Benning and hugged my son and his buddies as they deployed to Iraq. Back then, we were told to plan for an 18-month deployment, but if they were home in 15 months it would be a gift. That they are home in 12 is a miracle in my book.

I have recently come to the conclusion that when you have someone deployed, you live in two worlds: "This" world and "That" world. In This World, everything goes on as normal. You go to work (for those that work), do the laundry, clean the house, pay the bills...… You know -- all the things "normal" people do.

But we're not normal. We also live in That World -- the world where the telephone ringing in the middle of the night is normal 'cause it's morning over there. The world where news is everything and vague reports of improvised explosive devices can raise your heart rate 10 beats a minute and unconfirmed reports of soldiers' deaths can cause you to inhale involuntarily. The world that can fall apart in an instant when the caller ID says it's Fort _____ or there's a knock at the door and the chaplain is standing there.

In This World, holidays are a day off or a reason to shop. In That World, holidays are markers of time passing... merely milestones until homecoming. First we got through Valentine's Day,… then Easter (telling ourselves that they'll be home next Easter), then Memorial Day (oh how we'll celebrate next Memorial Day!), Independence Day (we'll have the best barbecue next 4th!), Labor Day, Columbus Day...… just marking time in That World... the World where you live between goodbyes and hellos until it's goodbyes again.

In This World, birthdays and anniversaries, the births of children, the marriages of friends and family are celebrated with a degree of sadness because your soldier is not here... your soldier is in harm's way. Can you ever truly celebrate in This World when your heart is mostly in That World? We do but only because we are forced to live in This and That World.
We live in This World where the ringing phone is just a ringing phone -- an annoyance, an interruption... but we are forced to also live in That World where we curse because the phone does not ring often enough or can bring unhappy news... where 21st century technology is a tether to That World but which we curse in blackout or busy times when we are plunged into unwanted silence.

In This World, shopping is a normal every day activity, but because we also live in That World, it is a lifeline to our soldier: shopping for the things they need...… the things they like..… the things that tie them to home -- to us...… tie them to This World and learning that soft toilet paper or their favorite brand of salsa may be more priceless than gold in That World.

In This World there are 24 hours in a day, but because we also live in That World, we live a parralel 24. As we progress through our days in This World, we are calculating the time in That World and conjuring up pictures of what our soldier is doing at that moment. When we eat we wonder if they had a hot meal today...… when we shower we wonder if they had hot water for a shower or whether it was a water bottle rinse off...… we wonder if the mail even got through today. In This World, "Where did the time go?" is a simple phrase. In That World, it is a blessing that the hour or day went quickly because in That World time passes excruciatingly slow --… especially those last few days until that plane touches down and the senior officer yells, "Dismissed!"

In This World, you are brave, tough, and supportive and you dare not admit to many that in That World you are also weary, frightened, worried sick, and lonesome for your soldier and sometimes you cry about it for him and for you.

In This World, you smile politely when someone asks about the yellow ribbon pin or the purple "For Those Who Serve" bracelet you wear... and you smile broadly when they ask you to thank your soldier for their service in That World.
In This World you wonder why people clap when David Letterman or Jay Leno say hurtful things about the War while your soldier fights nobly in That World for their right to say it. In This World you find that you talk back to the television a lot and that you stop watching or listening to Senators and Representatives and clueless celebrities who can't seem to put aside their partisanship long enough to see the effect some of their mindless statements have on those that live in That World and are fighting That war. In This World you wouldn't dream of challenging someone demanding that we cut and run, but because we also live in That World, we have no qualms about telling them that they don't know their butt from an indentation in the Earth's surface and thoughtfully answer all their rote mumblings about oil, lies, wealth, WMD -- and when they spout "We support the troops" -- we don't hesitate to ask them to prove it!

Before this deployment, I thought that once our son -- once Our Guys -- were home, I would return to living in just one world -- This World. However, now that the deployment is over, I have come to realize that a part of me will always live between the two worlds. That World is now an integral part of This World for me... as it is for many others.

In This World, your friends are those you know in your neighborhood and from the PTA or Lions Club meetings. For the families of those deployed, our friends in This World include everyone that understands all too well That World: friends that are serving, those that have served, the families of those that are deployed, have been deployed or are deploying and the people that really do support them... always ready with a helping hand, an encouraging word, a shoulder to cry on, a hand to hold in good times and bad. That World is a big world inhabited by a large family of which I am proud to be a member and for which I will forever be grateful.

Copyright 2006. All rights reserved.
Welcome to readers from NavyMoms, iVillage, Military Girlfriends -- and a Special Welcome to the Rakkasan community!


At 1/16/2006 5:19 AM , Blogger Call Me Grandma said...

You captured the life of a military families who wait so well. Once again all I can say is superb post SSM.
God Bless our troops and bring all of them home sooner rather than later.
I guess God answered that prayer were our 3rd ID guys were concerned.

At 1/16/2006 5:57 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

SSM hits it out of the park again!! This really is our life!

In talking with my husband who is currently serving we realized that some of your guys from FT. B were in his camp. I started following your blog when he left to get an idea of what it would all be like (which you were a major help with) To think this world can be so small at times.

Thank you for sharing with everyone what so many of us just know but don't share.

At 1/16/2006 6:54 AM , Blogger Stacy said...

You sure have said it all. I thought that once Michael was home that I would relax a little, but since I have joined Soldiers' Angels and adopted a soldier, I am still worrying, waiting and all the other things that come with have a child over there.

At least I am sleeping through the night now.

Thanks SSM for such another wonderful post.

At 1/16/2006 9:25 AM , Blogger DaddysGirl said...

As always you bring a tear to my eye. Those of us who have lived between worlds never go back to just living in This world. I hope you keep posting. You're blog is a wonderful look into the lives of military families. A lot of us could never put our feelings into words like you do. Thank you!

At 1/16/2006 12:53 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

As always, perfectly said.

At 1/16/2006 3:17 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi there,

I wish you nothing but the best and hope all of our friends and family come home safe soon. I thought you might be interested to know about Operation Love Our Troops, an initiative launched by Soldiers’ Angels. They’re sending the world’s largest valentine to the troops overseas and you can leave a personal written or voice message for your loved ones, for free, on the site and they’ll get it delivered on February 14. Visit and send wishes of love and support.

Please share with your family and friends, too.

Good wishes,

At 1/16/2006 6:28 PM , Blogger Melinda said...

SSM, you make my neck a little sore as I nodded my head through that entire piece. You have such a wonderful way of capturing what it is that so many people feel.

Beautiful yet again.

At 1/16/2006 8:38 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

You hit it right on the nail. What an awesome post you have here. Reading it brought tears to my eyes because everything you just decribed is so true! It's hard not to think those thougths of when the doorbell rings and the knock at the door. Last year when my husband was deployed to Iraq, I use to be so afraid to turn the corner because I didn't want some guys waiting there at my front yard to give any kind of news. I think most of the time I would close my eyes and pray real quick. It's a good thing I never got in a wreck doing that. This this it's a little differnt but that doesn't mean that it's not hard. Keep up the good work on your site.

At 1/16/2006 9:33 PM , Blogger kbug said...

Boy, you hit the nail on the's definitely two worlds, and my mind is back and forth all the time. I find it very hard to keep focused on my work. I keep the IM on all the time, night and day, work and home, and it doesn't matter what's going on, if Seth or one of his buddies gets on the IM, I'm talking to him...I can't stop myself, and don't really want to. And you're right about it never stopping once it starts. I was actually sucked into That World two years ago when a friend deployed. I started reading soldiers blogs and never stopped reading them and following what was going on over there, even after my friend came home a year ago. That World didn't cease to exist then, and I don't think it will go away after my baby boy comes home, either. Once you make that connection, you don't ever lose it...for better or worse, it's just a fact. Thanks for putting it in such a great way.

At 1/17/2006 3:27 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Boy, is that ever on the money. I really don't know how you military familes do it. God Bless you all.

Wonderful to hear The Guys are all home!

At 1/17/2006 6:54 AM , Blogger Greta (Hooah Wife) said...

lookes like the spam monster commented above me. You might want to activate haloscan and trackback options. I linked to this post!

At 1/17/2006 10:21 AM , Blogger Crazy Politico said...

Some day I'll remember NOT to read your stuff at work, the rest of the guys in my cube look at me funny because my eyes are all red.

I think you've probably nailed the feelings of the two worlds better than I've seen anywhere.

Thanks, as always.

At 1/17/2006 10:58 AM , Blogger David M said...


At 1/17/2006 11:43 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great post!

You are so right about the "vague reports of IEDs" that "can raise your hear rate." My husband is ther now and it always makes me think - what if it's him? When I realize it isn't I begin to think - it's somebody elses husband/son or wife/daughter and my heart goes out to them.

At 1/17/2006 11:48 AM , Blogger dyzgoneby said...

Just.....Thank You from the bottom of my heart!

At 1/17/2006 8:31 PM , Blogger sher said...

I have been floating from "this world" to "that world" for the last 18 months. As I head into 12 more months of the same, I feel blessed that my soldier is still safe.

At 1/17/2006 9:14 PM , Blogger LoveMyTanker said...

You describe our lives to a tee! Thanks for the great post!!!!

At 1/18/2006 2:18 AM , Blogger David Glass said...

I have to echo what crazy politico said about not reading it at work. You have my heartfelt thanks for sharing your thoughts. I'm a civilian working in Kirkuk, Iraq. We see the guys going outside the wire every day. We wave at them and I say a silent prayer for their safekeeping. They have my undying gratitude for their service and my unwavering support. To all of you who have loved ones in the service, please tell them I said thank you. And if you have loved ones in Iraq, may God keep them safe and return them to you as quickly as possible.

At 1/18/2006 10:43 PM , Blogger yankeemom said...

Excellent and amazing!
I've just started being a member of this special family and I am so proud to be a member. I've been startled by some of the things that have come out of my mouth when talking to people who have no clue what it means to have your daughter (or son) enlist in time of war. Gives one a new perspective and the mama lioness comes out in me!
Thanks, SSM, for so beautifully capturing this and that world.

At 1/19/2006 5:51 AM , Blogger Specter said...


Thank you for the post. My son will be leaving for boot camp (Marines) in June. Your thoughts have given me clear insight as to what to expect. God bless you, your family, and all the families with brave Americans who protect us all. (I hope that was not politically incorrect....)

At 1/19/2006 7:11 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I stumbled across this post somehow and I wish I could remember how (LOL) but as a veteran and a 20+ year spouse, I have to say that you have hit the nail on the head. You've said everything I have wanted to say over the years and then some. For me, this is definitely something I will want to share with those who just don't get it.

At 1/19/2006 5:20 PM , Blogger barb pfister said...

Great post. I think you speak for us all. Even though our soldier is homw we still will live in both worlds until they are all home.


At 1/19/2006 8:12 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Another winner, SSM! I'm so glad "your guys" are home. Please give them my gratitude. My thanks, too, to all you family members commenting.

At 1/21/2006 7:37 PM , Blogger S said...

Thank you for those great words. It couldn't be said any better than what you have written here. I read through the whole thing nodding my head.

Thank you SSM!

At 1/22/2006 7:03 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

i just read your post and everything you said is exactly right.
I have 2 sons deployed for the second time and I can say it's not any easier the 2nd time around. they are with the 101st Airborne .
You always are checking the news and websights that let you know what is happening and where and at time your heart is in your throat with worry because it happened in your soldiers area and the blackout means they can't call or e-mail to say I'm ok.
God Bless our troops my prayes are with you all stay safe -


At 1/24/2006 11:29 AM , Blogger Mike Driehorst said...

The closest I come to being part of the military family is that my dad served in Germany during the 1950s for a couple years. There is no way I can truly feel what you and others have gone through and do go through every day.

But, I feel as if I got a brief glimse into your world after reading your post.

Your Two Worlds piece should be published (besides here) to be sure everyone reads it.

May God bless you, your family and all families who serve or who have loved ones in the U.S. Military.

Thank you.

At 1/24/2006 11:08 PM , Blogger J. said...

Very inspiring!

At 1/25/2006 9:05 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I loved this. Thank you for writing it.

At 1/25/2006 10:07 PM , Blogger Patricia said...

I am awestruck with this post... I have just recently had THAT WORLD enter strongly into my life. Your post gave me a glimpse of whats to come. My daughter was deployed for Iraq only 3 weeks ago. Shes still in country, so the fears and worries havent really set in, but all too soon shell be there. I appreciate all the posts on all the blogs from the Mom's. It truely gives me strength to read them all, and comforts me to know Im not alone. You have a gift of writing, thanks for sharing it with us.


At 1/26/2006 10:49 PM , Blogger Beth said...

Excellent post! It's exactly how it is.

At 1/31/2006 7:47 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just have to say, you captured exactly what its like to be the silent rank back home. Your depiction put into words all the feelings that I had while my husband was deployed. I actually teared up just reading this because its all to fresh, the memories of it all. While you have to remain strong for your soldier there are so many times that you just want to break down, but instead of breaking down you just get into this mode of "this world" (as you put it). The only thing that gets you through it all is your "that world" family and all the late night calls and the mailman becomes your favorite person. Thanks so much for sharing your depiction.

Proud Wife to Spc. Isaac Werner USAR

At 2/01/2006 9:30 PM , Blogger Dirtdart's Wife said...

very elequantly written and SO VERY TRUE! THANK YOU sooo much for capturing so perfectly what those of us who love & support a soldier(s) who is/are serving our country. "This" world is sometimes over shadowed by "That" world. And when our soldier(s) come home to "this" world, "that" world never leaves because you while trying to enjoy and relish every minute of "this" world wait for "that" world to become a part of your intiment every day life again. Even though we never left "that" world because we have "family" who are still there even if it's not OUR soldier(s). WOW it's late and what I'm trying to say is probably not coming through in this reply. However what you said is SO TRUE and I'll be sharing it with EVERYONE! THANK YOU SSM! And I agree w/ Micheal THIS piece "Between Two Worlds" SHOULD be published!

Vero PAW (Proud Army Wife)

At 2/04/2006 10:05 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I gratefully thank you for sharing so much of yourself to all of us. I read 2 paragraphs and had to walk away and cry, then when I composed myself I was able to finish it. My son is just now in boot camp but I'm preparing myself for the inevitability that he will be deployed to Iraq or Afghan. God Bless you and your family with many blessings.

At 1/06/2007 1:53 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

How true!!!! I am a Marine wife... just wanted to say I enjoyed reading this post! You have nailed it on the head!

Great Job!

At 1/13/2007 4:17 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

My son is currently deployed. He just left Jan 2. I have many Non Military friends that I just didn't feel understood. Thanks to you, now they do. I will now be looking to this blog site as a source of inspiration in the many long months I know lie ahead of us. THANK YOU
Mother and wife of and 82nd ABN Super Duper Paratrooper.


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