color: SOME SOLDIER'S MOM: Through the Mind... Darkly

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Through the Mind... Darkly

Isn't it amazing how certain simple phrases can evoke such intense emotions?

“I love you.”

“Will you marry me?”

“It’s a boy.”

“Head up, ass down, son.”

“Your son has been wounded in a VBIED attack.”

Yup. That about covers it. But it’s the last one that stabs at me to this day. Just saying those words will bring tears to my eyes… alarm to my heart… pain to my spirit.

It was a year ago that my view of the world was skewed: the day the angle of the prism in my head twisted just enough to remind me almost every day since of the evening that we received the “phone call from Hell”… the words that rendered the eye in my head myopic … the eye through which I view all of life’s events and the comings, goings and experiences of my life… and my children's lives... forever altered.

I still have dreams and nightmares where parts of my conversation with Sgt. F from the Rear Detachment pass through the dreamscapes and sometimes it wakes me. It always distresses me.

While our son’s physical injuries have pretty well healed, I’m not certain all his invisible wounds will heal in my lifetime. I worry about the stealth of the anger and the agony that remain in recesses of his psyche -- not just for the events of that August 23rd, but also for
the deaths of his friends when he could not be there for them... and other events while he was deployed. How do you heal those hurts? Can they ever be mended? I don’t want him -- or anyone -- to ever forget the goodness of the lives we’ve lost or the sacrifice these and many others have made, but I want it not to hurt him as much. I don’t want the pain to be what he remembers. As a parent, you worry. You always worry.

The fear and panic and utter helplessness that overwhelmed us that night still live in my memory as if it were yesterday. That night, I discovered how many tears lived in my heart and how fast they could make it out my eyes. I learned that there are not enough tears to make the world right. That night -- when worry unlike any other consumed me and found me gasping, begging and bartering with God to spare my youngest son’s life -- I learned how caring and loving people could be in an hour of need when thousands of people came by this journal to hold vigil, offer prayers, stand in wait with us and join us in celebration.

And I admit that facing our son’s mortality and the horror of that confrontation lives in me like some parasite lurking in my head. I can feel it waking as talk of the next deployment starts to work its way through the Division’s community, and I admit that this fear nudges me and I occasionally can feel it creeping at me. I resist and struggle with it. Like an overstuffed closet, I push against that door to restrain it and put it some place where I cannot see it and it cannot see me. I know that it is so much harder on those that have been there and done that.

You just can't imagine how your soldier's deployment will color your world forever... how it will affect you. Just ask Stacy and Cathy and Andi and Army Wife and Mrs. G and Melinda... And none of us could have ever imagined exactly how it would change our soldiers... how deep their hurt is... and how hard it would be to heal. It does change your world... our world, and no matter how hard you try, we will never be the same again.

I joked before the first deployment that I would need mainline Valium IV to get through that deployment. I don’t think it will be a joke when he deploys again. I will never again be able to dismiss the lack of emails, instant messages or phone calls with “no news is good news”. It will be impossible the next time to keep my knees from melting every time the phone rings. An unexpected car in the driveway will rob me of heartbeat and breath. I have been stripped of my innocence in this. I have “been there”… to that dark place… I know the terror. As hard as I try, I cannot forget.

But just so you don’t think I’ve become or will deteriorate into a dark and brooding recluse, I also regularly recall another simple phrase that -- just ten hours after a conversation that had slashed at me like a sickle -- served to lift the crush of those earlier words… two of the most beautiful words to cross transatlantic phone lines from Iraq and allowed me to breathe… five letters that unleashed the most joy I had experienced up to that moment since my soldier’s birth: “Hey, Ma!”


Copyright Some Soldier's Mom 2006. All rights reserved.

And so today I fast in honor of our wounded and disabled Soldiers, Sailors, Marines and Airmen... a part of the Rolling VICTORY Fast ...

And Happy Birthday, MaryAnn!!! Being 50 ain't so bad... if you're a tree...

I knew I wasn't alone... and today, Mrs. Dadmanly writes in this same vein from a wife's perspective...

18 Comments:

At 8/23/2006 11:07 AM , Blogger Army Wife said...

SSM,

Eloquently put as always...

I am still fatigued from the deployemnt, and it has been over a year since he has been home.

I learned some things about myslef, things I would not have liked to know, and some things, have made me better.

I am stronger than I thought.

We were lucky DH came home sans injury....but there are days, he is still over there....

those are the days, I try and send him out on the bike, I try and be little quiter than normal (imagine that)...

Those are the days he clings to the kids....

Am I ready for the next one? Hell no, I would never be ready, would I proudly do it. Yes, I would....
valium, perhaps....

 
At 8/23/2006 12:11 PM , Anonymous FlooseMan Dave said...

SSM,

Few are able to communicate the emotional content along with the words as you have. You carried me right along with you. Not being a mom, I have no frame of reference other than yours. Times like these I'm glad I'm not a mom. But being a dad ...

As I concluded reading your emotional journey, my mind took me back to a scene in "Saving Private Ryan" where an olive drab colored vehicle was seen coming down the long driveway of the Ryan family farm and the mother coming out onto the porch realizing at once what the message was the occupants were bringing. I know, it was only a movie, but the portrayal was no less intense.

I'm glad your boy has returned home. In the years to come as he regains his humanity, this period of his life will no doubt define who he is and how he will live the rest of it. By the Providence of God his life has been returned to him. And to you as well. He has been redeemed so that he may find the purpose to which he has been appointed. May he succeed in his journey and may you be blessed beyond measure as he takes the road before him.

My boy has finished his deployment and is now in the final stages of training to be a Marine Recruiter. His fiance tells us that he is doing okay and we are grateful. Only time will tell, of course, but now his mission is to find the best in our local high schools so they can continue to carry the torch ours have already carried.

Godspeed to you and yours.

 
At 8/23/2006 12:16 PM , Blogger dadmanly said...

SSM,

Thanks for the link, I linked it to a piece Mrs. Dadmanly posted today.

I know the Mrs. praises God she never had to go through what you went through. It was certainly central to her fears, prayers, and now that I'm home, that part that won't seem to go away...

 
At 8/23/2006 5:29 PM , Anonymous MissBirdlegs in AL said...

SSM, As usual, you capture so much in a few words. I remember the fear I felt when you posted after the phone call, and the joy when you posted that things weren't quite so bad as you first thought, and I don't even know y'all. I'm so delighted that Noah is doing well and I'll continue to hang around here for the next deployment. You all, servicemembers and families, continue in my grateful prayers.

Best,
Katy

 
At 8/23/2006 6:14 PM , Blogger Call Me Grandma said...

SSM, you captured it so well...as usual.
My life has forever changed. I think I roll with the punches a little better than before deployment. But, I always have that little fear inside me saying, yes, it can happen to you and yours. We all know, that hell is real...don't we.

God Bless our military and their families.

 
At 8/23/2006 6:53 PM , Anonymous Andi said...

A year ago, I can hardly believe it....

Thank God our prayers were answered.

You have hit the nail on the head, as always.

 
At 8/23/2006 9:02 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks SSM for your great insight to life on this side. My son is half way through his first deployment and the fear is so real everyday that sometimes I have to stop and think about breathing. I pray to God every waking minute that he is kept safe. I am so happy that Noah is doing well and will continue to pray that life can get on for him. I head to your blog every night, right after I check emails. You are a great lady. Thanks for everything.

 
At 8/24/2006 5:53 AM , Blogger Stacy said...

Another outstanding post from you. I thought about you quite often yesterday. I too will never forget that day as I was sitting on my couch with my son who was home on his R&R, and opening up my email and reading your email to me.

My first reaction was to pick up the phone and call, and when your DH answered the phone, I froze, and could not for the life of me get it together, but somehow I managed to make it through that conversation with you.

You are a very special friend to me, and I will always be grateful for your wonderful words of wisdom throughout our son's deployments.

Tell Noah that we wish him the very best.

 
At 8/24/2006 7:02 AM , Blogger Infantryman's Mom said...

An excellent post, SSM - God bless you and yours. "Through the mind...darkly", quite a poetic title.

 
At 8/24/2006 7:14 AM , Blogger Melinda said...

I remember this time last year...busy with school starting & hadn't checked my e-mail for a day or so. I logged on only to see the subject line "I know you'll e-mail me when you hear". My heart skipped a beat. I can't imagine what yours was doing.

This is another great, poignant and timely piece. I continue to pray for Noah and all of you and am ever thankful for families like yours who sacrifice for the rest of us.

 
At 8/24/2006 6:03 PM , Blogger Kat said...

Wow... I remember this, too...... *hugs* We love you, and Noah...

 
At 8/24/2006 6:31 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

SSM,
Loved your post....Your feelings are so much my own....Just got my Solider back on US soil 4 days ago...It was a long hard year....But by God's GRACE we survived it....Please let Noah know that we are still praying for him....

 
At 8/28/2006 2:03 PM , Anonymous MaryAnn said...

It all seems like yesterday... when I was trying to track him down... they had moved him around and I knew I had to leave for home soon and was desperate for find him for you. The relief I felt when I finally found him.

All those emotions although you and he were total strangers to me. So to imagine what you were going through... incomprehensible.

It's been wonderful to be able to follow his progress both physically and emotionally over the past year. Progress made not only through his own experiences, but through those of his entire unit.

As a faraway outsider I could very well be mistaken, but I have the impression your son has become a Man with a capital "M".

God bless you all.

 
At 8/29/2006 2:48 PM , Anonymous mrs puddin said...

I empathise with how you feel!! My daughter, currently in Iraq, has been wounded also and the feeling of helplessness was the worst for me. I could NOT help her and that was the most difficult part. I pray her arrival home will be swift and easy and if she is deployed again, she knows that I am with her and appreciate so very much all she has given and will continue to give to preserve this precious liberty we have in the United States.

 
At 8/30/2006 3:55 PM , Blogger remoteman said...

This is a late post, but thanks to you all who post here who are some soldier's mom, wife, friend or other. My thoughts and prayers are with you all. My gratitude to you and your loved ones can't be expressed well enough.

While I can't understand the fear not having a loved in the military, I can appreciate the loss. I've lost 2 siblings, one suddenly. The memory of the phone call will never go away.

Again, my thanks to you all. The men and women in our armed forces and the families behind them are the best among us.

 
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