This is about our family's journey to a new norm after our son Chris was seriously injured in an IED explosion while deployed to Afghanistan. I chose the title "A Misfit's Mother's Journey" to honor some small way all the amazing young men in his squad, "Martin's Misfits". I owe a debt to these amazing men who worked together to save my son's and his buddy's lives and to the young man who sadly lost his life. This is a debt I can never repay. I hope you will find inspiration in our story and admiration of the young men who understand the consequences and are still willing to risk life and limb in the hope of protecting others.
Thursday, July 19, 2012
Is it Monday yet?
I woke to the sun gently playing on my face as the curtains fluttered in the a/c induced breeze, however I saw it as it rudely waking me up before I was ready to deal with the day. Damn! Why didn't I fix that gap in the curtains and make sure bottoms were behind the vent? As I stretched myself awake I realized it is Sunday and Chris will be stateside around 1645 today! I've gotta get moving in case we got the call to fly out today. I was hoping a couple connections I had called to see about keeping Chris at Walter Reed/Bethesda would come through. No such luck; it was too late in the process. Ugh! My body felt like a deflated ballon after finding that out. Guess I don't have to pretend I'm Speed Racer to get it all done. So I decided to blow everything off and just hide from the world. Oh take me away you mindless boobtube! Watching the sad, pathetic lives of the people on shows like Bridezillas, Tanisha gets married, Toddlers and Tirias, etc. is like watching a train wreck and strangely enough makes me feel so much better. Wayne was so good about doing all the things I was hiding from so I could be...well, lazy. Axiously I waited for 1645 to come and it came and went without a call. Then HQ MC called saying there was an aircraft issue and he would be arriving later than planned but still leaving for San Diego at 0800 on Monday. Time to pick it up again, but now I felt so overwhelmed. Roughly 10 million questions were running around my head, it made me thankful for the brief retreat into nothingness. I worried about not knowing anyone in Cali, but thanks to Facebook I realized not only did I have wonderful friends in Long Beach but a friend actually in San Diego. A great friend from high school I hadn't seen in....well, let's not go there. The young guns were so great about checking on me, hugging me and telling me they loved me. I am so blessed with my boys. During all the support our friends were giving, a friend of a friend asked what was going on. It turned out he was connected with Channel 5 news and thought a story on Chris and our family would be a good human interest piece; in comes the 15 minutes of fame opportunity. The world needs to know not just how courageous Chris is, but all these young men who willingly put their lives and limbs at risk in the hope of helping others. So we tentatively arranged a meeting. Suddenly I realized night had snuck up on me and I welcomed it; it was bringing me closer to Chris. Around midnight my phone rang and Chris' voice was on the other end, sounding so much better than when we talked while he was at LRMC. He provided more information about his injuries and how he and his brothers were doing. It was a relief to know all three of them were doing really well. All the questions I had about that night would have to wait until I was able to see his face and hold his hand. The sandman must have been on the other end of that phone cause once we hung up I was fast asleep. Ready for the new day and our epic adventure to begin. I don't remember if I woke up early or what, or anything else that happened that Monday morning and early afternoon. Just that we packed and waited. Nothing will ever compare to the pacing I did the night I found out he was injured, but this came awful close. Finally they called to let us know he was in San Diego so they would arrange our flights now. My heart longed to be there when he arrived, but that wasn't going to happen. The best they could do was get us on a flight scheduled to leave 3 hours later. So we arranged a ride to the airport and for Ashley from Channel 5 to meet us there. Our UOA boy, Stephen, drove us there and our young gun Cam rode along to see us off. Leaving him at the airport was so hard for me. I knew I was going to be gone for months and Cam and Clint needed me too. But they were so grown up about it and told me Chris needed me more and they would be okay. The love and compassion they truly have for each other and their comprehension of the situation is so indescribable. I am going to really miss those two. We met with Ashley and filmed the news piece; it would aire at 2200 that night. Our plane out of StL was delayed, but thankfully not enough to make us miss our connecting flight. Not to mention when flying on Southwest you are not guaranteed seats together, but again thankfully we were able to get seats together, on both legs. I was so glad. As relieved as I was to finally be in the air, every now and then I would see or hear or think of something that would trigger my thoughts of what must have happened to him and what it must have been like for him and his brothers, my heart would break and I longed to be with him causing the tears to flow. Wayne would see and squeezed my hand and caressed my back, helping to get my emotions in check and refocus on the task at hand...getting to my boy. Finally we arrived at the San Diego airport; without really knowing where to meet the Wounded Warrior Battalion rep, we headed to the USO. As the front desk tried to find who they thought we were looking for, a Gunny from the WWBN came in. Granted he was there to pick up another family, but he did get us to the right driver. A smile spread across my face when Chris' friend CJ (who was with him) texted me back to say Chris was so excited we were almost there. I couldn't sit still; I was so thankful the music playing in the bus was Top 40. "Call Me Maybe" to be exact, my favorite song which kept me from getting really anxious the closer I got. They said it was only about a 10 minute drive, but trust me it certainly didn't feel like a 10 minute drive. Finally we arrived in front of the hospital by the flag pole that looked like a ship's mast and we went up to 5 West. As we entered the ward, right away I saw VANETTEN on the nameplate outside the second room on the right. I wanted to burst in the room, but because of where he had been we had to take precautions and were required to don gloves and a robe. It seemed like everything went on in slow motion but I finally got them on and gingerly opened the door. There before my eyes was the best sight ever, my handsome boy sitting up in bed! When he saw us a smile lit up his face and he said "Hey Momma!"