Late February is upon us again. It has been four years now. That sounds like a long long time really. And it is. Open painful wounds have healed and calloused and are just big invisible scars to the outside world. The problem with these unseen wounds are that they will never be gone, never be truly healed for us. I speak for myself of course, but I could never believe that there are parents and families on the path that ever heal these wounds that we carry inside of us.
The years have gone by.. the sheer burning almost minute by minute agony that was is now a fleeting and sometimes ambush occurrences that hit out of the dark or out of left field. They come and they go, but one thing is different about this time of year. Like certain types of ghosts I walk the same paths and live those days almost minute by minute and feel and remember the events and times of the “before days” when life was open ended and life revolved around monitoring internet messengers and cell phones constantly to hear from the son far away. I feel the emotions of the moment I found out, the drive home, signing the forms, the wait from news from Dover, the ride to the hangar, the whole gut wrenching period
My wife posted something yesterday about today being the last time that she got to talk to my son. It kind of reinforced things that while we are all different humans trapped in cages, the cages are not all that different or maybe even of the same manufacturer. Her post reminded me that this was also about the last time I got to talk to Micheal on the computer. He would pop on when I was at work (I’m always at work) and we’d touch base and talk about everything or nothing.
The last conversation with Micheal was probably the toughest for me and the toughest for me to get over. Micheal and I would talk about our common likes of history and the military. He being in the environment that he was, he could relate the realities that I never had to see an Infantryman and I could try and relate and explain things in the view of history that he could draw upon for some answers. He told me that with the people he was with and what they were doing, that he really didn’t mind any of it and he was not afraid of the job that he and his brothers were doing.
It made me feel good that he felt secure enough to tell me that he was OK with what he was doing and that he was OK. The however he did however bring up and confide in me the reality that he was afraid of the IED’s. I told him that everyone probably felt the same way and that I understood and of course that he was completely justified in being afraid of the damn things. I reminded him of the documentary we watch about the American air crews in Europe during WW2. They were perfectly willing to do battle with the fighters because they were flown by men.. it was a real fight between another man. What they hated and fear was the anti-aircraft or flak. There was no defense and there was no one to fight. There was just nothing to do but face the fear and do your job.
That was the last discussion we had. Me trying to relate to a son thousands of miles away, that it was OK to be afraid of something like that and then coming to the realization a couple of days later that what your son feared the most and what he went out and faced so damn bravely.. took him away from us. I never try to sugar coat things for people, and my children are no different. I hate sometimes that the truth has to be told and that I had to have a discussion with a son so far away and tell him that there was nothing that could be done but face the dangers. I could not and did not tell him that everything would be OK… because I and he really understood that there were no guarantees.
I love you and miss you Micheal..