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.
Tuesday, July 17, 2012
The painful and dreaded waiting game....
Relief and joy washed over me when I first heard his voice! Our conversation went like this...Me - "Thank you, thank you, thank you for calling me!" Him - "Momma I had to. I knew you'd be freaking out. Stop it right now; I'm stable, in good condition and I'll be coming home. A little bit shorter than when I left, but I'm coming home." Me - "So I guess the 6 foot goal is out of the question?" Him - "yeah" Me - "At least Cameron will be happy to say he is taller than you." Him - "Yeah, but I'll still kick his ass." We all laughed then talked about what should take place over the next few days. Our conversation may have been only 5-10 minutes long, but it felt longer. To know he was still here to hug and kiss and still had his wonderful sense of humor despite all that happened to him was thrilling. I have always known he was strong willed and determined, but to truly hear it in action was amazing. When we hung up I was on cloud nine; I wanted to collapse, vomit, laugh and cry all at once, all in relief. Hearing his voice relieved so much worry. I'm not a churchy person and I don't read the Bible, but I do have my own special relationship with God. Just as when I was waiting to find out if I had cancer or not, a voice came to me to tell me all will be okay. Even tho that brought me overall peace, I still wanted to get my arms around him to reassure him he will be okay, he wasn't alone and loved an awful lot; that made me anxious. That's when it dawned on me, this was the beginning of the painfully long and dreaded waiting game. I quickly ran thru my list of friends in my head to see if we had any stationed in Germany. Yes we did, it's just I had been absolutely horrible about keeping in touch. While I knew it wouldn't matter, I still apologized anyways. I needed someone I knew and trusted to put eyes on my son and give him a mother's hug to remind him how much he is loved. Of course to no surprise Michelle said most definitely! That is what I love about my friends; it doesn't matter how long we haven't talked, we are always there for each other. In a few hours we were supposed to head to our daughter's in Ohio and I knew I needed some sleep since it would be a 9 hour drive. My brain just wouldn't stop thinking and imagining what it must have been like for him. Was it like the movies? Did he feel everything? What did it feel like? How much pain was he in? Were they taking good care of him? How in the hell did this happen? How did it all play out? If he was injured, who else was? Did anyone die? How long will it be before I get to hold him again? God I wish I could quiet my brain and stop my eyes from leaking. Finally out of shear exhaustion I passed out. Not sure how long I slept, but my brain woke up at 7 and started all over again. So I grabbed my shuffle and earphones and went out on the deck. The morning fog was still lying gently on the mountains. As it began to slowly rise so did my family members and the phone began to ring. The outpouring of love and concern was wonderfully overwhelming. It helped make the drive to Ohio go quickly and before I knew it I was hugging my beautiful daughter and handsome son and grandson. I really needed this family time, it had been way too long since we last saw them and I really needed my girl right now. I just wish I could have been more focused on them. My mind was so preoccupied with thoughts of wanting Chris home now and wanting to know when he would get stateside so we could plan. It's during times like this you are reminded of how blessed and love you really are. My family is HUGE; made up of so many different people. All with a piece of the puzzle and willing to help put it together. My eyes wouldn't stop filling with tears; tears from all the kindness and effort from everyone to get us information, tears from realizing how close I had come to losing my son and being thankful he was still alive and tears from feeling so blessed. The next couple of days went by so fast, yet took so long. It wasn't until my old boss called to say they were moving Chris to Landstuhl and he would be in DC by the 17th, that I realized how quickly everything really happened. It seemed like a week since I got the call until they moved him to LRMC, but in reality it was only 3 days. About the same time I received a message from one of my nephews to let me know he had been a med tech at LRMC and still had friends there who stood ready to support/visit Chris once he arrived. These were people I had never met and I had only met my nephew a couple times! But as Rick and Heather said...We are family and that is what family does. We would have loved to have stayed with our daughter and her family longer, but without knowing exactly when or where the MC was going to send us, we knew we needed to get home. Sadly we cut our visit short. It broke my heart our visit wasn't what we had imagined and I was so discombobulated, but they were so loving and understanding about eveything. Reluntantly we said our good-byes and headed home. During the drive home I found out for this incident there were 3 injuries and 1 KIA. My heart broke; I hated the thought of more young men and their families going through what we were and worse. Thanks to our military careers and where we worked the last 10 years, my husband and I were lucky enough to have friends all over the place that were able to keep us informed of what was going on with Chris. I couldn't imagine what it is like for the families that don't. Chris called several times during his travels home, joking around everytime even when in serious pain. One of his friends told me he thought Chris was one bad ass Marine. Due to various reasons, pain meds were not available for Chris to take after he was blown up. Chris remained calm and focused and said freaking out wasn't going to help anything so why freak out. My brave, brave boy! When I mentioned that to him all he said was "Oh yeah. That really sucked.", in such a nonchalant way. Even with taking 2 days to get home, we arrived a day before Chris was scheduled to arrive in DC. We were hoping and wanting him to stay there since it was closer to home, but the MC decided to send him closer to his home unit in California. My girls Gitta, Terry, Donna, Michelle and Lisa all stopped to see me shortly after we got home; bringing hugs, groceries, dinner and donations just incase we had to leave the next day. Their hugs were warm blankets of love; releasing all my built up tears, stress and worry from the last several days. I loved the fact we were with family when this all came crashing down, but I won't lie...it was really nice to be in the comfort of my own home, where the majority of our famliy memories were. We were just that much closer to Chris and I couldn't wait. Once in the warm security of my bed I quickly fell into a deep sleep, for the first time in days.