Many of you know that my oldest son is a Marine. He joined the United States Marine Corps right out of high school. He comes from a military family, I served in the Air National Guard, and many of his family members are long term Air Force service members.
So, I was not surprised when he told me he was going to be a Marine. At the time, the United States had just gone to war with Iraq. So, I knew it meant immediate deployment. He was supposed to get three weeks leave between basic training and his deployment. Well, we all know that the military is famous for changing its mind. He called me the night before he was supposed to come home, and said, “Mom, I can’t come home they are shipping me out Friday.” Now, Friday meant Valentine’s Day, I will never forget that.
I cried myself to sleep just about every night for the next week.
The following months became the longest 18 months of my life.
I eventually got myself into a routine of writing to him, sending him care packages, and waiting for the once a week Tuesday phone call. That phone call was my lifeline. I held onto it like it was the last living link to my son. I prayed every Sunday, that God would let that phone ring on Tuesday, and I would hear my son’s voice.
I will never forget the day the phone calls stopped.
I was very busy this particular Tuesday at work, it was chaos. I had noticed that my son had not called. Everyone at work knew he called on Tuesday, they knew when he called because, I dropped everything to talk to him. Now, I was in my car headed home, and I received a call from his father, who lives in Baltimore. He asked where I was, and I told him I was driving, it was pouring down rain. He said, “Pull over.” I asked him why, and he said again, “Pull over.”
So, I managed to find a spot in the dark, in the rain, and pulled over. He then proceeded to tell me that my son had been injured in an explosion. No, we did not know the extent of his injuries, but he was alive, and we would know more in a week, a WEEK!!
Now, you can imagine my hysteria, at first being told my son was injured, alive, and I would not know more about his condition, or the extent of his injuries for a week!
I managed to drive myself home, don’t ask me how. My mind racing with all the possibilities of what kind of injuries her could have, the quality of healthcare he could receive in the desert, how long had he lain there before help arrived, etc…
Once I got home, I started calling anyone and everyone I knew in the military, to find out as much information as I could, about my son’s condition. I even tried calling the Pentagon! Well, to say the least I did not get anywhere.
Well about seven days later, I got another phone call that said my said, my son was not critically injured, but he would be in the hospital in Germany for a few weeks. My next question was when can I see my son and I was told “not now.”
Now, you can imagine this did not set well with me at all. Another round of phone calls ensued. He eventually came home, and when he did, he came home with a horrible case of PTSD – Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. He is now on disability, and no longer in the Marine Corps. Now, we know the saying, “Once a marine always a Marine”, well I guess this is true.
I know you all remember the commercial, where the young man comes in, and tells his parents he has something important to tell them. He wants to join the military.
The reason I am telling you this, is that I lived it, on July 4th, 2012. I received some news that I am just now being able to talk about.
My youngest son told me he is joining the United States Marine Corps.
My first thought was, “Are you crazy!” Then it was, “Here we go again.” But, my son said that he has been wanting to do this for six years, and he has thought it through completely.
He said he watched me go through having his older brother in Iraq, and all he sleepless nights, waiting on the phone to ring, the agony after his brother’s injuries, and that is why he took so long to tell me.
I explained to him that I understood his decision, and that I was behind him every step of the way. I understood that he felt like he had to do this, and that he was called to do this.
I told him I was proud of him, I am proud of him.
As a previous service member, I served in the Air National Guard, I can understand his desire to do this, but the mom in me is having a really hard time.
I will say that I have prayed that he will change his mind. The thought of having to go through this again, does not fill me with joy. I thought that once my oldest son came home I was done with Iraq/Afghanistan, that we were one of the lucky ones. My son came home – broken – but home.
I will be praying as he starts his journey towards signing and basic training. I will be praying the Lord keeps him safe.
Please say a prayer for my son as he will need them all.