Through the Mind... Darkly
“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.
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