Standing Still

A very good friend of mine has a son in Afghanistan. Until she began sharing with me what she was going through, I admit that I had a cookie-cutter view of our soldiers: It was scary and it was unfortunate and I wanted them to come home.

Then my friend told me that she doesn’t sleep. When unconsciousness finally claims her, she passes out with the speakers to her computer by each of her ears – in case her son comes on during the night. She doesn’t want to miss him; it might be the last time she ever speaks with him.

She told me that when she smiles, she feels guilt. How can she be happy when her son could be killed at any second? What right does she have to experience even a moment of relief from this terror? And why hasn’t the world stopped turning? Why hasn’t everyone noticed that her son is in mortal danger? She is standing still – shouldn’t the rest of the world be as well?

His friends sustain concussions from exploding IED’s and wind up killing men – taking lives. And she tells me she wants to throw up. Is he next? Why hasn’t he been hit yet? Surely simple statistics would dictate that it’s his turn… Any second now.

This is her little boy. She brought him into the world, nursed him, taught him to read, held the seat for him on his first bicycle. It’s his little laugh that warmed her heart; the most beautiful sound in the world.

Now he’s thousands of miles away. And she thinks, “If I died, he would have to come home. They would have to let him come home. And he would be safe.” It’s only the first of many dark, desperate thoughts that occupy her mind. She can think of nothing else but his safety. Nothing.

She dreams strange dreams of crossing borders and showing up at his camp. “What the hell are you doing here?” her dream son asks. She shakes her head. “I just wanted to make sure you were warm enough when you slept,” she stumbles before handing him a dream blanket.

She wakes in tears, cold and alone, the speakers crackling in wait beside her head.

I used to think of our soldiers as people – over there, somewhere else – and I wanted them to come home. Now?

Now I think of them as sons and daughters. As my little girl. And I want them to have never left in the first place.

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4 Responses to Standing Still

  1. elanna says:

    the thing that made the soldiers real to me was just after 9/11 when all of a sudden they had to start leaving to go fight in an actual war. My son was in the army and i was part of an armymoms group online. One of the mothers there posted about her son who was in one of the first groups deployed to Afghanistan, with only a couple days notice. He had to make a will first–which might not seem unusual to us anymore but at the time we didn’t have soldiers dying in foreign countries. She dropped everything to drive 16 hours straight so she could say goodbye to him before he left. I cried for that mom and I knew that couldve been my son except at the time he was safe (!) in Korea.

  2. Mary says:

    I watched an Oprah show yesterday which dealt with the reality that the majority of Americans don’t know anyone who is in the military, emphasizing the tiny minority making such an enormous sacrifice for the rest of the country. There was more information on the website. One is a link to a petition that deals with the military personnel, men & women, who actually lose custody of their children because they are away at war. I pasted that link below:

    Have any addresses for military personnel you would like to share?
    The other info I found spoke of how we can send mail to soldiers and gives details re: how to best send it and topics to steer clear of.
    Mail is the most requested item from those in the military.
    1. Select a soldier you know or one who is related to someone you know.
    2. If you don’t know a soldier, ask a friend, fellow student, co-worker, pastor, or military chaplain to help you make a connection. Make sure they provide proper mailing instructions.
    3. Grab some paper, an envelope, and a pen.
    4. Write a letter from your heart that expresses your gratitude, shows your support, and provides encouragement. Share a little bit about yourself and ask questions. Avoid such topics as death, killing, and politics.
    5. Include your e-mail or mailing address in case the recipient wants to write back. You could even include a self-addressed envelope.
    6. Send the letter.
    • There are over 2.9 million active, reserve, and civilian men and women in the U.S. military.
    • Hundreds of thousands of American troops are deployed indefinitely in remote parts of the world, including the Middle East, Afghanistan, Africa, the Korean Peninsula and on ships throughout international waters.
    • U.S. service members are deployed for long periods away from home. They love receiving good wishes and words of appreciation and support, even from total strangers.
    • Letters are the most requested item by U.S. military men and women.

  3. Mary says:

    Sorry if my previous email is a little hard to read. I’m not a big blogger and was expecting to edit. The “Take Action” info was taken from I left my email because I would love the opportunity to send off some letters if anyone wants to send me addresses. Thanks.

  4. Cassandra says:

    With an only son, deep down inside, I pray he does not choose the soldier path. I’m sitting here with tears streaming down my cheeks!

    My little sister is pregnant with her fourth child. Her husband was in Iraq up until two years ago with a communicatons position. I don’t know how she did it, raising all the children without him, waiting for his spordadic calls, but she always knew he was okay. He has been fortunate enough to get a job here in the states with the same company.

    My heart and prayers go out to your friend.