I honestly believed I was ready for this. When people would ask, "How are you handling it?"
My response was always the same. No Problem! This is only what I've been expecting for the last 20 years or so. But today I woke up to the realization that after to day, I won't be able to see or touch or be near my son for a year. Tomorrow I leave to head back home, while he will be getting on a plane headed for Afghanistan.
From the time that he was very little, there was little doubt that he would someday be involved in the military in some form or fashion. He would drag his toy guns along with him everywhere he could. Not only guns, but his own lego hand-grenades and machine guns made from paper towel rolls and pieces of wood or sticks. He once took a wooden sword we had gotten him at a fair and turned it into a machine gun with a scope and shoulder sling - we still have it tucked away in a closet, waiting for the day when his own children will drag it out to play with. He made aircraft carriers out of legos before they had kits to do so. He had a collection of fighter jets and helicopters, tanks, jeeps, anything camouflage. His bedroom door still bears the carved in markings of his imaginary 'kills'. Hunting came naturally to him. He is a 'crack shot' and never has to take a second shot. Never misses. The first time he went hunting with daddy, I was a nervous wreck. I thought he was way too young. I think he was 6 or 7. But he carried his own gun and his own gear. In the coming years, I found more dead squirrels in my freezer than I want to think of. After shooting them with his BB gun, he 'hid' them in the freezer so I wouldn't find them in the yard! Atleast he was ridding our huge tree filled property of the pesky little varmints! Later, in high school, he joined the ROTC program, which he did very well in. But he seemed to loose interest in most things military for a few years,and I actually began to wonder if maybe I had been wrong. Maybe he wasn't destined for the military. Maybe there was something else for him. But God kept steering him back. All the roads he took seemed to lead him right back to this.
And now the day has come. And although my heart is so sad at the thought of being so far away from him for so long; I can say with all the honesty in my heart, that I am not worried about or for him. He is going over there with a unit trained in Humvee mechanics and weapons and ammunition distribution. So those are the main 'jobs' he will be involved in. I am not naive - I know that the area he is going to is very volatile. I know that circumstances over there can change in a second. Chances right now are that he will never leave the base or see combat. But the reality is that full fledged war could break out at any moment and he could be caught up right in the middle of it. But I know he is good at what he does. He has been well trained, not only by the army, but in life. This is something he has been preparing for his whole life. And most important, I know he walks with his creator, his Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Should worse come to worse; should his life be taken, I know he will be in his Saviors arms. And isn't that really where we all want to be? I think my greater fear is that he return home injured in a way that I can't fix. Or that can't be fixed by anyone. So, I will be saying a lot of prayers today, and in the days and weeks and months ahead. I will continue to place him back in Gods hands every single day; because, lets face it - even though, as mothers, we say we put our children in Gods hands, we take them back again all the time.