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.
Friday, November 23, 2012
Flash Forward-Day 1 of Marine Ball Weekend
Miles of red, brown and tan rocks extend behind us and before us. The black pavement stretches out under us leading us to our end goal, Vegas Baby! The engine purrs as I fly by cars full of people who can't drive nor understand the left lane is for passing (if you ain't passing, get out of my way). I'm not a big fan of weaving in and out of cars, but they leave me no option. Though secretly the naughty side of me loves the feel of speed and leaving others in my dust. The rocks in front of us begin to give way to buildings rising slowly out of the horizon. I feel like Dorothy arriving at the gates of the Emerald City and with it being Vegas, I have no doubt I could even find a horse of a different color. This is a treat for me since at first I wasn't going to come. Chris didn't want his Mom hanging out at the Ball with him and while I really wanted to see him all dressed up, I also understood. However several weeks ago Josh and Devon contacted me saying they really wanted me to go for all I have done over the last few months and wanted to get me a ticket. When I first received Josh's text, the kindness being offered and the reason why made me cry and I was so torn. I didn't want to be rude to them but I also wanted to respect Chris' desires. Timidly I began to text Chris, not sure what to write cause I didn't want him to feel like I was guilting him into anything. Halfway through typing I received a text from Chris letting me know I had a ticket to the ball. I called to make sure it was really okay and he laughed saying he never really minded me going, he just liked teasing me. Now weeks of preparation and shopping was finally coming together and I was so ready for it to end in an explosion of color, glitter, alcohol and fun! Colleen, Chris, Danielle and I pull up to the Luxor, while grabbing Chris' legs from the trunk I notice that Colleen is quiet. Earlier this year she came here with the man of her dreams to be married; this was the first time being back since he passed. I have no doubt that as awesome as we are, this is not how she imagined spending this year's Marine Corp Ball. As I round the back of the car I pause to hug her. I can't imagine all the hurt, pain and fear of how this all will play out, she must have. I know I can't take it away, but I hope to convey through the hug that she is not alone and if needed I will be more than happy to provide any distraction or goofy entertainment she wants. As we enter the lobby I see people scurrying about like ants; some with luggage and/or drinks in hand, others heading towards the casino floor and the remainder look like bobble heads, flipping their heads side to side and up and down with the look of total confusion on their faces. Walking to the elevator and eventually our room I couldn't help but feel as if I was really in a pyramid; from the egyptian carvings and decorations tastefully done to the winding, twisting, constantly turning hallways. This is an older hotel however room was nice, really nice for the price. I have certainly been in others that I've paid thru the nose for and had them turn out to be sparsely decorated and run down. There is no rest for the wicked when in Vegas, we changed our clothes and headed out. After several wrong turns we finally find our way to Dick's Last Resort so we can be verbally abused and verbally abuse those around us. The words mandatory to live by this weekend are "Go BIG or go home!", so we ordered big Dick Stick's full of daiquiris. The girls out drink me this round, but I vow not to let that happen again. The balloon guy stops by our table an creates a kiss ass balloon hat of a stripper on a pole for Chris. We decided to head over to NY NY and on the way we come across the Naughty Elves, with their tight gluts and rock hard abs peeking out of their shirts to say "Hello". Chris calmly rolled his eyes and walked off as not to be seen with us while we talked to the elves. Chris is saved from total boredom and embarrassment when a group of our friends appear out of nowhere. We go from being a small herd of cats to a large herd and slowly and loudly make our way to Coyote Ugly. The staff at the entry is so nice and accommodating, but the bartenders are slow and rude and the drinks are EXPENSIVE and nasty! The room is dark, there aren't many stools and what there is are all taken, the floor is uneven which makes me wonder how Chris will do on it cause I know his legs are beginning to hurt, I can see it in his face. I asked a gentleman if Chris could have his stool and he gave it up quickly and happily showing me once again how caring people can really be. We all agree to team up to complete in a drinking game called Flip and to no one's surprise we win all rounds causing me to get even tipsier, not that I mind. It's almost time for Colleen to head over to see cirque de sole' and Chris is tired so we head back to the hotel. After waiting a bit for Sarah to call I decide to just walk the 2.5 miles to Treasure Island to meet them, just gotta see the lights and the people. The neon lights twinkle like glitter against the dark sky, the air vibrates from all the bass thumping from the clubs and all the cars zooming by plus all the conversations create a hum that is almost hypnotizing which is periodically punctuated by honking horns. Men and women stand on the corners giving out strip club cards,; the sound of them flicking their cards is irritating. Girls walk by in their high heels and short skirts, make-up and hair shining in the neon. I walk by all the flashy shoes, clothes, bags and bobbles glimmering under their store's fluorescent lights. However all that flashiness and glimmer cannot completely hide the homeless, beggars and street performers on most of the overpasses. It's 1 AM and time to head back to the Luxor, the street is much quieter now. The vibrations and thumping are gone, hum from the cars and conversations barely noticeable, no more flicking sounds at the corner, girls are now hobbling back to their hotels with shoes in hand and make-up and hair not as shiny, store windows don't glimmer as bright, street performers are no where to be seen or heard and even most of the beggars have left. Nothing is left to disguise the dirtiness of the strip even though the neon is still shining bright. Somehow how all this is now strangely peaceful and soothing. Not a hugely exciting night but it is a good start. Definitely looking forward to the days and nights to come.