color: SOME SOLDIER'S MOM: Wednesday Morning

Friday, January 12, 2007

Wednesday Morning

Wednesday morning, the phone rings. “Who the heck is calling at this hour?” As I turn over to reach for the nightstand, I glance at the windows in the room. They’re still dark; no hint of light. And I mutter under my breath, “It’s never good news if it’s dark.” As I reach for the phone, the green numbers on the clock say 5:30. I pick the phone out of its cradle and push the “on” button.

“Hey, Ma.” I mentally calculate, 7:30 Georgia time.
“Hey. Everything OK?”
“We’re going.”
"Your unit?”
“Shit.” Great. Not even out of bed and I’m already cursing.
“Do you know when?”
“Can’t say exactly. Looks like March. Be sure to watch the President's speech tonight."
I think, as if we’d miss it??
“Is it official? Did you get orders?”
“Not yet.” And then he tells me a tentative date.
Damn. Just Damn. Looks like he'll be spending his birthday in Iraq.
“I gotta go, Ma. We’ll call later.”
“Love you son.”
“Love you, too, Ma.”

Dad says he gathers from my end of the conversation that this is not good news. I tell him the substance of the call. “Damn,” he says. Great. Now both of us are cursing.

I lay there awake for the next hour with my mind running circles around itself. I can feel the tears behind my eyes. I tell myself, “Well, if there aren’t orders maybe he won’t go... after all, rumors are the adrenalin of the Army that early in the morning.” My heart is beating faster. I toss. I turn. I toss again -- certain that if I just practice relaxation techniques I can leave this waking nightmare for the safety of sleep.

At 6:30, I give up and creep out of bed; our big Chow moves up off the foot of the bed and plops where I last lay and breathes a deep sigh as he tucks his nose under my pillow and flips his tail twice.

I fill the coffee pot and put cat food in two dishes. The same thought keeps playing across my brain like an old movie marquee: “He’s going back.” It circles and appears again, “He’s going back.” I can feel my chest tighten. I find it a little hard to breathe. I can hear my heart beat in my ears. I recognize the classic slither and squeeze of anxiety.

I was preoccupied with these thoughts all day. I should have been working on our tax records. I should have been working on the meeting notes of the last Board meeting I attended. I couldn’t concentrate. Mostly my brain was doing loopty-loops… just when I thought I’d gotten myself focused on some task, my thoughts would do that loop and there would be the marquee, “He’s going back.” And my heart would add a few beats. I’d take a deeper breath. I say little prayers.

Thirty minutes before the President’s speech I pour a glass of wine. We listened intently. We listen to a brief commentary. Then we listen to the Democratic response. I pour another glass of wine. I say some rather ugly things to the guy from Illinois. Great. Cursing at the end of the day as well. But I meant it. It’s not going to be about our soldiers and Marines. It’s going to be about everything but. It’s not going to be about working together. It's not going to be about succeeding in Iraq. It’s going to be about reprisal and retaliation. I say more little prayers.

Thursday, the following arrives via email:

DoD Announces Force Adjustments

As a result of the President's Iraq strategy review, the Department of Defense announced today an increase of 20,000 U.S. military forces for Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Specific decisions made by the Secretary of Defense include:

The 2nd Brigade, 82nd Airborne Division, based at Fort Bragg, N.C. [***]

The 1st Brigade, 34th Infantry Division, Minnesota Army National Guard, [***].

The 4th Brigade, 1st Infantry Division, based at Ft. Riley, Kan., will deploy in February 2007 as previously

Three other Army combat brigades will deploy as follows:

· The 3rd Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division, based at Ft. Benning, Ga., will deploy in March 2007.

· The 4th Stryker Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division, based at Ft. Lewis, Wash., will deploy in April 2007.

· The 2nd Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division, based at Ft. Stewart, Ga., will deploy in May 2007.

It ends with: The department recognizes the continued sacrifices of these units and their family members.

I think, “Force Adjustments”? Why aren’t we just calling them reinforcements? They’re reinforcements. Force adjustments?

I continue reading. There it is. Half way into the announcement. My heart stops. I feel a gasp about to escape. My stomach rolls. There it is. It's official. It's public. Shit. There’s that word again. F**k. There’s that word, too.
A little later, the phone rings.

“Hey, Ma.”
“___________. That’s the date. We leave _____.”
“Shit.” (ok, if cursing is a sin, I’m going straight to Hell.)
“Is it definite?”
“Yeah. We should have orders in a day or two.”
“I know, Ma.”

We talk a minute or two longer. How’s M? How does she like her new job? What’s happening with the car that’s not running? How’s the dog? How’s the weather? We hang up.

I fight back tears. Not ready. Not ready. Not ready. I give up and let the tears fall.

I find his Dad and tell him. This time he doesn’t curse (he’s much better at not cursing than I am.) We sit on the couch for a while talking about it. He has his arm around me. He hugs tight. We talk about the last deployment... of Noah's wounding... of how hard this year and his PTSD has been on him and wonder just how he'll do with a new deployment. We talk about Noah’s new wife; we worry how she’ll handle the separation. We know how hard it is on us and we know it will be hard on these newlyweds. I only half joke about stocking the wine cellar, but he knows I speak the truth when I say deep breathing probably isn't going to cut it this time.

His departure is still weeks away and I’m already feeling the stress. I feel the entire first deployment right behind my eyes being pushed by the second deployment already. I thought last time was hard... I thought I could be "ready" for this next time. Today I understand completely that I can't ever be ready.

Hard as I try, I cannot forget the terrible hardship he and Our Guys endured last deployment, and images of us stuffing rolls of toilet paper, canned foods, toiletries, and laundry detergents in hundreds of flat rate boxes for a year fill my head. As much as I try, the memory of the worry and pacing for days when we didn't hear seems as if it were yesterday and makes my stomach sour. It's even harder to supress the feelings I associate with the call and the days and weeks that followed. I try hard to push the pictures of David Salie, Matt Bohling, Jeff Watkins, Tommy Byrd and the others from my brain. That deployment changed Noah... it changed me. It changed our family and our friends. I try not to dwell on the changes we might endure this time. I remember last time he left
I cried a river. This time I know I will cry harder. It will be an ocean.

Somebody let that bitch Boxer know that the sacrifice of military families is not a Democratic talking point… it is not a sound bite or a punch line. Even if she doesn’t think she owes Condi an apology -- she certainly owes one to military families.
Copyright 2007 Some Soldier's Mom. All rights reserved.


At 1/13/2007 5:05 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

The road to war is paved with a Mother's tears.

My Son is due to leave Iraq in a couple of weeks. My worst fear right now would be this call, "Mom, I'm extended".

And when he comes home, then in six months, it will be "Mom, I'm going back".

God bless and keep us all.


At 1/13/2007 6:16 AM , Blogger Toni said...

Dang - I'm sorry. I've been in contact with Kelly (Patriette) whose husband with the Red Bulls was extended. I can feel your pain through your words, can't imagine the level of the pain, just feel it.

At 1/13/2007 6:21 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

My daughter will likely be returning to Iraq also. I am worried about her but am comforted by the fact she is doing what she wants. She has been a soldier for 10 yrs and reupped each time. I pray that she and your son and all the many other military men and women will be safe and come home to us asap. Let's do the job right this time and maybe our grandchildren won't be doomed to repeat it.
I also agree with your comments on Barbara Boxer. She certainly needs to apologize but unfortunately that will not happen. If she makes any comment that she feels makes amends you cna be assured it will be worded in much the same self serving way as that of John Kerry.

At 1/13/2007 8:06 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am sorry to hear about the deployment of Noah. I am sure that we will be here for you and that we will pray for your son and family. We are also waiting to here about our daughter, if she will be deployed again. I know that a lot of military families are on the same pins and needles.

At 1/13/2007 8:27 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

My warmest hugest to you. I wish we had the power to take away your worry and fear. But though we can't remove it, we're going to be here for you in any way we can as you move through it.

At 1/13/2007 8:28 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

[haha! "Hugest" above should be "hugs."]

At 1/13/2007 4:38 PM , Blogger kbug said...

There has probably never been a better example of deja vu than you must be experiencing right a really bad Groundhog Day. I feel your pain...and I will pray that Noah once again returns safely. I don't know how long he was home between deployments, but I'm quite sure it wasn't long enough...but would any amount of time be long enough?? Seth will be home less than 2 years; his group has been told they will return in Fall 2008...that seems so close already. I don't know if it will be possible to hug him enough between now and then. I hope you are able to get tons of hugs from Noah before March...although I know it will not be enough to get you by until his return. You, too, will be in my prayers.....

At 1/13/2007 6:35 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've been there honey, I know exactly what you mean about not being able to breathe, and the anxiety. I've been reading your site for a while now off and on. When I came across this post, and saw David Salie's name (I know his Mom Pat) I can feel that feeling of tightness in the chest, and the tears being right on the surface all the time. My own son has done two tours to Iraq and we expect a third.
You will be in my prayers and thoughts, as will all of our military families who have loved ones deployed. Hang in there. Keep as busy as you can. Try not to give in to the fear.

At 1/14/2007 12:48 PM , Blogger breakdown said...

I struggle with worry sometimes with my kids with normal things in life. I cant start to understand the worry it must be for familes of soldiers out in Irag or Alfganasthan.
Breakdown Cover Comparison |Distance Learning

At 1/14/2007 2:39 PM , Blogger MaryAnn said...

F**k, SSM.

Everything is always worse the second time around because you KNOW what's coming.

I wish I could take this pain and anxiety and the rest of it from you... and from all the Moms and spouses and families...

But I can't.

We will all stand with you again, and hope it is some small comfort.


At 1/15/2007 1:23 AM , Blogger Fermina Daza said...

If cussing is enough to land you in Hell, I'll be there waiting for you. I'm sorry. Being in the middle of a deployment myself, I do not wish this on anyone. And it's just my husband, not my son.

This time around is the 3rd deployment for my MIL - her 3rd son has gone off to war. Though my days are tough, I cannot imagine how it must feel to send a child to war.


You always have my prayers. So does Noah and the rest of your family.

At 1/15/2007 11:54 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Always praying SSM...always praying.

At 1/15/2007 1:59 PM , Blogger Rebekah said...

It's surreal to see it happening again, this time from the outside. When 3rd ID went to OIF I, I kissed my fiance goodbye. And when they went to OIF III, I kissed my husband goodbye. Now I'm an outsider--we live on the opposite side of the country, and my husband, now an art student in the National Guard, is a civilian most days. And so 3rd ID's return to Iraq is strange ... so deeply personal, but far more removed from my daily life this time around. My prayers will be with Noah and the rest.

At 1/15/2007 5:54 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Prayers to you SSM and all who are sending their loved ones into harms way...and all who are there already.

At 1/15/2007 8:11 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just wanted to say that I know your son. I consider him one of my friends as well as one of my heroes. He has been through a lot. But he is an awesome person. I have a feeling you are a part of why he is so great. Your post brought tears to my eyes. And because of you and Melanie I started my own bog. Hopefully it will help me get through this next year of hell.

At 1/15/2007 8:33 PM , Blogger Some Soldier's Mom said...

Soldier's Girl -- get my email from my profile and keep it around... it will be a shorter year if we stick together... have you joined ?

At 1/16/2007 7:54 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hadn't read your blog in awhile, and my stomach is in knots for you. #1 Son is there right now and I know how you feel. Once again we will put Noah and your family back on the prayer list. I think a lot of us may be paving our way with all those cuss words, you're not alone.
Praying for you and yours.

At 1/16/2007 1:17 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

OMG... it seems like he just got he's going again? I heard the news and got the DOD bulliten in my email too -- but I did not know your son was stationed here in Georgia. (((hugs))) Please know that they will all be in our prayers, verymuch so... and we are here for you the whole way through... again... always.

Luv you,

At 1/16/2007 4:36 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Don't They Know War is Over?

The pain is over.
The torment is over.
We Do Not Need to Kill Our Young.


At 1/16/2007 4:44 PM , Blogger Some Soldier's Mom said...

dear paranoid... i've been "infected" with the truth for a long time... you are more cookoo than paranoid, though... you are in definite need of some serious meds... I hope you get the help you need.

At 1/16/2007 5:38 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

yesterday I put Gaius's son (from Blue Crab Boulevard) onto my prayer list. Today I will add your son's, and susan's daughter's.

I pray for all our troops, but when I have a name, I add it.

I'll pray for you, too.

At 1/17/2007 12:26 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Some Soldier's Mom, I read your post today re the 3rd ID and Noah returning to Iraq. From the beginning of your post, my heart was heavy for you. I too have felt those same feelings time and time again over the last 4 years. My own , based in Georgia also, is right now over in the middle east somewhere again. I haven't found it to ever get any easier. The goodbyes are always tough. The worries never cease til we hear they are back in GA. God bless them all. Know that there are so many of us out here for you. As for Boxer, I so agree.
I check in with your site every so often and love your wisdom MOM.
Sincerely, B
Mother of a US 3/75th Ranger
Fort Benning, GA

At 1/17/2007 8:06 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I hope it will let me post my comment today...been trying, but blogger doesn't love me anymore.

You KNOW you & the family are in the thoughts & prayers of mine. Do not hesitate to reach out, call, e-mail or hop on a plane should the mood strike.

Tell Noah to expect some chocolate chip cookies coming his direction as well as lots of good thoughts & prayers.

I'm proud of all of you & my heart hurts for all of you too.

At 1/17/2007 10:11 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

You and your family will be in my prayers.

At 1/17/2007 7:32 PM , Blogger sher said...

So sorry that this cycle will be starting over for you again. It seems that alot of people will be "back in the saddle" again for another round of separation!! prayers and well wishes coming your way!

At 1/17/2007 8:29 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing your thoughts and expressing your feelings, even when they are negative.

I'm new to this, my son deployed for the first time in November, with the 7th Cav. It helps to know other mothers have these worries, sudden tears, pride, and other feelings all mixed together.

I think I will start a prayer list with actual names, rather than pray for "our soldiers" in general.

Noah will be number 2, right after my Daniel.

At 1/18/2007 7:27 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yesterday #1 Son called and I shared your blog with him about Noah returning. He has already started seeing these extra units arriving at his FOB and as I read your post with your *#!& inserts he said that about sums it up! As parents we pretty much feel the same way and our prayers are just increased 10 fold.
We all pray for time to go quickly when we have our kids in harms way so that we can have them back with us again.
Hang in there, a lot of prayers have already started forward for your family and Noah.
God Bless.

At 1/18/2007 9:26 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

SSM ~ sending hugs, hugs and more hugs.
You're in my thoughts and prayers ~ always. God bless and keep you all.

We're here ~

At 1/20/2007 6:04 PM , Blogger Sunny said...

Dear Some Soldier's Mom,
I am also a soldier's Mom. When my son enlisted at the age of 25, my husband called him a idiot. Our son, who had a great job with the State of Alaska told us that he loved us, but it was his decision and we could support him or shut up. We love our son and have supported him all the way, since.
He has been in Tikrit since July 06 and just told us they have been advised that they will be extended. I have an autoimmune disease that flares if I have any emotional stress in my life. Well ahead of our son's deployment, my doctor put me on an antidepressant that has kept me from disintegrating. I know the fear other mothers have. Thank God my son knows his mother so well and stays in touch.
My son's attitude was bad for awhile and he was saying things that were not exactly flattering about the President, and then the election came and all the dems rhetoric. But what amazes me, is that now he is saying we cannot walk away, and he is insulted by all the politisizing that is going on. He sent me this amazing poem (not his) about being a soldier. I sent it to my senator today Lisa Murkowski who is rumbling about opposing the President. The poem takes two minutes to read and compares the life we lead here to the life our sons and daughters (soldiers) are leading in Iraq and Afghanistan. It is very powerful.
I want my son home, too. But I want him home feeling good about himself and proud of who he is and what he has done, not shamed by the American people who change their minds and attitudes as often as they change their underwear.
By pulling our soldiers out before the job is done, we are asking them to break the soldiers creed. "A soldier never quits."

At 1/25/2007 6:00 AM , Blogger AFSister said...

Hey.... I'm so sorry to hear Noah's returning. I remember very vividly your account of his injury and the wonder about whether to go to Germany or not. I didn't experience it personally... but I did, through your words, and I thank you for that.
I prayed for Noah's recovery back then, and I'll pray for his safety now.
God Bless the military family, for they know the true cost of freedom.

At 2/03/2007 2:30 PM , Blogger Jen said...

I haven't posted in a while, either....but I'm still reading, and now I'm sending extra prayers out for your son, his new wife and your entire family. Noah has more than proved what he's made of; I'm proud to have him representing our country, AGAIN.

At 2/05/2007 8:12 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

i include you in my prayers

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At 2/20/2007 7:51 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I too got that same call from my Husband in November 2006... Only that phone call came from NTC (National Training Center). He and my POC (point of contact called) at 11pm, and it would not have been such a big deal if i wasnt pregnant and fast asleep. But after that call i didnt go back to sleep. Since November my husband has deployed actually on Feb. 9th and our baby is Due May 20th. Who knows if he will be able to come home. Still waiting to hear. So i know exactly how you feel.

At 11/04/2007 2:26 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am a fiance of a 2BDE 82 guy. That news hit me just after Christmas like a sack of pooh. How gutwrenching, another go at this, and then to hear only that they are extended further and further...
Do you have any word on rumored coming home time?


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