color: SOME SOLDIER'S MOM: Cry Me A River

Monday, February 07, 2005

Cry Me A River

Our family is a very close, demonstrative, and emotional family. We are prone to uncontrollable hugging, laughing, crying... usually in the appropriate circumstances, sometimes mixing the laughing, crying, hugging for the same event (funerals, weddings, comings and goings). Before airport security reacted badly to wild and loud noises, we could be found shrieking upon each others' arrivals at airports. If one of my sisters has experienced some emotional event, it is not uncommon that in telling the story, one or more of the other sisters will experience the same emotion upon the retelling -- even if we are retelling the story of some other sister's experience. You get the picture.
As my son's deployment approached, the contact with my sisters via phone became more frequent. And more emotional. It was virtually impossible not to become teary-eyed at some point during each of these conversations. Two of my four sisters and my brother and their families came to visit over the Christmas holidays because they wanted to be here for their nephew and cousin before he left. At times, my sisters were very emotional about my son deploying and I had to fight hard to control myself so that the situation didn't disintegrate to a slobber festival (we can do that, too.)
Beginning in the wee hours of the morning on the day my son was to deploy to Iraq, his friends and family began to call on his cell phone to say their farewells and to wish him a safe journey. He has a rather large and extended network of friends, so he spoke to people every few minutes for the better part of the day. I couldn't always hear the conversations, but I knew that most of the women that called tried to stay upbeat and my son was sweet and reassuring. It was not surprising to me that many of his best "civilian" buds became very emotional during their calls and it became harder for him to be unemotional, but he managed.
When he spoke with his aunts and uncles and cousins, I could judge what they were saying by my son's responses and it became harder for me as the hours wore on not to cry. When he spoke with his Dad and said, "I want to thank you, Dad... thank you for everything, Dad. I love you, Dad." The tears welled in my eyes and I couldn't help when they poured down my cheeks. "Don't cry, Mom. It's not that sad." And I fought to regain control because I didn't want my son to be upset. When I heard one of his brothers lose it on the phone, I had to leave the room. When a child cries in pain or sadness, no mother can NOT cry, too.
The hours passed, and many times during the day I could feel the emotion swell right up to my eyes as I helped pack those last few things, and he handed me things to take home, talked about last minute things, had a great dinner and then we headed for the staging area. Watching all the soldiers arrive with their families, the hugs from wives, children, siblings, mothers, fathers and even grandparents... pictures with families, pictures with buddies... Then it was time for me to leave. Over the month or so I had to "prepare" for my son's deployment, people told me -- and I told myself -- Mothers have been sending their sons to war for thousands of years. I thought it would steel me for his departure. It didn't.
I tried desperately not to break down when I put my arms around my son and kissed him for what I knew would be the last time for a very long time. It is the most counterintuitive thing a parent is called upon to do: you spend his whole life trying to be sure he isn't too hot, too cold, bugs aren't biting him and no one is shooting at him. Now I was sending him off to a place where it was always too hot, too cold, the bugs bite incessantly and people were going to be shooting at him! I hugged him as hard as I have ever hugged him and he hugged me back just as hard. I couldn't keep the tears from my face or my voice when I told him I loved him with all my heart. "I love you, too, Mommy. Don't cry. I'll be alright." I only cried harder when his buddies and I hugged and they each said, "Don't worry, Mom, we've got his back."
I knew I would cry when I said goodbye, I just didn't want the last image my son had of me as he left to be this blubbering blob. So I cried a little and fought back the BIG wave of tears that waited just under the surface. As soon as I got back to my car in the parking lot, I called his Dad and began to cry. Big heaving sobs. Felt like my heart being ripped from me. The hardest thing I have ever done in my life. As I drove to the hotel, I cried and begged God, His Mother and all the saints in Heaven to protect my son, and then implored my late Mother, Father, aunts, uncles, grandparents, brother to watch over him and his new brothers.
I still get emotional at times. I cried while I tied yellow ribbons on my trees. I tear up a lot when I read news that a soldier has died. I know I'll remain emotional the entire time my son is deployed. Yesterday, the emotions were really raw as I heard from my son that he had been under mortar fire during his day... Watching the salute to troops during the Super Bowl, and that Anheuser-Busch commercial where the folks in the airport applaud the soldiers coming home. Through my tears I told my husband, "I can't wait to be there to applaud when he comes home." He put his arms around me and just let me cry.


At 2/07/2005 11:53 AM , Blogger FbL said...

I don't have family in the service, but I think I'm often crying right along with you. Just reading your post made me cry! And I have to admit, the pre-game salute brought a tear to my eye. But the Budweiser commercial that came on just as I was packing a box for my one of my adopted Soliders left me completely in pieces. I sobbed with pain at the "wrongness" of them being There while I was safely Here. I believe in what they're doing, but I've hated every minute of it.

As for you, I admire your courage and am grateful for YOUR service. Those of us who support the Soldiers are finding ways to support the families, too. And we hold ALL of you in our thoughts and prayers, looking forward to the day when you are reunited.

I wish my words could give you peace, but hopefully knowing that there are both military and civilian families in this country who are thinking and prayering for you can be a small comfort.

Please use this blog to let us know if there's anything we can do for you or your son.

At 2/10/2005 11:41 AM , Blogger Susan Stevenson said...

I am the mother of a Marine, the mother-in-law to his wife - also a Marine (now out), and the wife of a soldier.

My son (who had just turned 18 at the time) went to Iraq just before the war started in 2003 and was there for 8 months. Reading this entry made all the worriment, sadness, and angst I felt while he was there come flooding back. Your words so echo everything I felt. I wish I could tell you that it will get easier, but I'm afraid you're not going to be back to normal until your son is safely home and you can hold him again.

The hardest thing for us, as mothers, is coping with the fact that we can't protect our 'babies'. That feeling of helplessness sometimes overwhelmed me. Emotionally, I was extremely fragile. Tears were triggered by the smallest things. I managed to lead a 'normal' life and could put on a strong face at my job and while in public, but in the safety of my home, or in my husband's arms, or on the phone with my sister, I'd easily crumble into tears. What a roller coaster of emotions!

My son and daughter-in-law came home safe, thank God. My son is getting out of the Marines in a few months. He just doesn't want to do it anymore. The war and his experiences over there have changed him. He's 20 physically, but much older emotionally and mentally. I'm happy with his decision for selfish reasons.

Now I am facing my husband's deployment later this summer. A year spent apart from the love of my life. There are days I imagine that it won't happen. That something will come up and they'll cancel it. And then there are other days when I find myself sobbing in his arms at the thought of being separated. I'm already riding the emotional roller coaster and he hasn't even left yet.

I can't give you many words of wisdom to help you get through this deployment easily. Surround yourself by those who you love and who love you. Don't hold anything back. There's no shame in crying. My prayers are with you and your family - and all of our troops and their families.

Take care,

At 2/10/2005 2:47 PM , Blogger The Violin Duchess said...

I am sitting in the computer lab at school and I am crying great gobs of tears. With the way I am crying over someone I do not even know, I would hate to see what a mess I'd be in if it was my own family! I cannot imagine seeing any of my family go off to fight. Your son is a true hero. I found your site through Sargent Missick and I am so glad! I will stop by often. You and your family will be in my prayers! Tootles.

At 2/11/2005 5:45 PM , Blogger Jen said...

Like just about everyone else who has posted so far, tears flowed down my face as I read your post and felt your pain (as close as I can get, of course, having never been in your exact situation).

I'm thinking of and praying for you. I'm also sending your post to my friends because those beautiful words deserve to be read as much and as often as possible.

At 6/10/2006 8:15 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was searching for something wise & succint to say to my son as he goes to war. He will be on pre depolyment leave next month. I came across you blog. I still am not sure if I want to go up and "see him off". But reading this made me think I will. If you have any words of wisdom I can give him, please....tell me.

Proud Marine Mom of Lcpl Drew
2nd LAR BTN, 2nd Marine Div

At 6/13/2006 9:44 AM , Blogger Some Soldier's Mom said...


If you have the opportunity to go see him off when he deploys -- do it! It is really worth it. At least once -- the first time.

The only advice I could give you to give him: "Keep your eyes up and your head and ass down." That about says it all.

If you're looking for some practical advice for the deployment, read this one:

and be sure to read the comments -- lots of moms & wives had other suggestions.

Best of luck. Feel free to email me any time you feel the need to vent or worry... or ask questions.

Fond regards, Carla
Some Soldier's Mom

At 1/08/2008 2:53 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's 3:00 a.m. the night before my son is going back to Iraq. Of course, I can't sleep. Maybe I will in a few days. This tour of duty perhaps will be "safer" than the last. My son is in the Army National Guard. When our "confrontation" in Iraq began and he was first deployed, I listened to CNN constantly and cried as I heard the air raid sirens and saw the bombs doing their thing. I soon shut off the T.V. My son, Jon is a full time Police Officer in Denver and is also an MP in the National Guard. His first deployment involved guarding the convoys. This time will be "safer". He is "only going to guard the 32,000 insurgents imprisoned in Ramadi.
I am so sad and proud. Sad, do to my own selfishness of just plain missing him. Jonny has a great baby that just turned one year of age on December 20th. He will miss alot of the "firsts" that happen with a great baby. Jon will also miss the birth of his 2nd child in May.

May you all keep Jon and his devoted wife in your prayers as for all of our service people.

I will miss him.

At 1/12/2009 5:12 AM , Blogger One Proud Mom said...

I'm One Proud Mom, and two days ago I said good-bye to my son as well. It's impossible to describe the feelings. I also refused to show emotion before he left. I have no idea if and when he will be coming home. I'm passing on hugs to you from a mom that knows!


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