Hi there. Miss me?
I'm still vacating (which, I believe, is the correct verb-ation of the word 'vacation') on the east coast. I'm loaded with ammo for a plethora of blog posts upon my return, such as will blow your already teeming minds, for it is common knowledge that my readership is amongst the most educated, most well-read, most cultured and refined readership ever to assemble on the world wide web.
Anyhow, since I'm out and about, I feel guilty that I've left you behind in the dust. Well, Gawd forbid you read something else, like, oh, a BOOK - so I thought I'd re-run this post from my 2010 blog. Almost 2 years later, it still makes me cry.
I've been thinking about my son a lot lately.
My son, Chris, is a very quiet 20 year old. He's taller and thinner than me, and I think he's handsome. I wouldn't say he's shy; instead, I think that it just doesn't occur to him that a conversation would be an appropriate thing at any given time. He would be quite content to spend the entirety of his day in front of a screen of some sort, be it the TV, computer, or game console, while taking the occasional bathroom/meal break.
My son is also currently sitting somewhere in the vicinity of the Bagdad International Airport. He's a soldier, and he's at work.
I try not to follow the news; in fact, if I hear anything about Iraq, I intentionally shut down and go someplace else in my mind. I don't want to hear about how many people were killed. I don't want to hear about civil unrest. I don't want to know that more/less troops are being sent over. I don't even want to hear anything positive. I just don't want to know, so don't tell me.
I get an e-mail from Chris about every 3 to 4 weeks. It usually consists of less than 100 words, in which he tells me that he's bored and everything is fine. These e-mails constitute all of my contact with my son.
I haven't spoken to him on the phone since the day before he shipped out, which happened to be a Saturday afternoon. My 40th birthday had fallen on the prior Wednesday. When the phone rang, I knew it was he, because nobody ever calls me - especially on a Saturday afternoon. Our conversation was stilted, broken, awkward. We both knew that once certain words were said, that the entire call would break down and that would be that. So I bit the bullet and said the things that I knew, as Mom, it was my job to say. I told him how proud I was of his decision to join the Army, that God protects His children, that I loved him and would miss him. Then, of course, came the tears.
I don't know if you know what it's like to just sob on the phone, if you know how it feels when your world just stops and you can't speak, all you can do is cry. Let me assure you, dear reader, that it sucks. As emotional, as gut-wrenching, as shattering as the phone call was, the hardest part had already occurred several weeks before.
We had said our "goodbye" in person about a month before when he came home on leave for 10 days. I took Chris to the bus station - which in our area, consists of the parking lot of a mini-mart that's gone out of business - and waited for the bus to show. We both tried to make some small talk about the trip - "I hope the bus isn't too full" - "Do you have any cash on you to buy snacks?" - but again, it was stilted, broken, awkward. When the bus did show, Chris was the only person to be picked up, so there was no delaying the inevitable. I held my oldest child, told him how proud I was of him, how God takes care of His children, how much I would miss him and that I loved him. And then came the tears.
My son sobbed in my arms and all I could do was join him. Instinctively, I rocked him back and forth in my arms and rubbed the back of his neck like I always had when he was a child. I knew that optimistically, I would see him in no less than 7 months; pessimistically, 13 months. Once I let go, that would be it, and he would be gone. So I did my duty as a Mom - I let go first and sent him to the bus.
I let go first.
Who would have ever thought that a single action, taken during a moment of a mother's acute pain, could be so haunting?
If, God forbid, anything should happen to my son while he is in Iraq, that is what I will remember. I let go first.
I let go first.