Twenty-nine years ago I gave birth to you. To some people it seems like a long time ago. To me, it's like it was yesterday. I was young, scared and so proud. More importantly, I wanted to make sure you were taken care of:
It was a late night conversation between a woman and her God;
They were talking about the newborn lying in her arms.
She was begging for forgiveness as she thanked the Lord above,
Promising to keep her baby from all harm.
God said “Leave him to me, I'll protect him and stay beside him,
He'll always have a Father's love;
Don't you worry about the past, you just love him and guide him
I'll make sure he always has enough.”
Through the years He did just that and I was so proud of you just as I was your brother and sister when they came along. You were the perfect child, the perfect big brother and I was always so aware of how blessed I was.
Life wasn't always rosy. There was the time you were in the hospital for a bit with a cancer scare. I remember leaving the room and going to the chapel and spending four hours there praying. Suddenly, I felt that same reassurance I had been given in the hospital fifteen years earlier. I was the only one not surprised when your tests came back negative.
In a hospital chapel fifteen years later
Another late night conversation took place;
The woman was older, a heavy burden on her shoulder
And as she prayed the tears ran down her face.
And God said “Didn't I promise I would stay beside him,
He's always had a Father's love;
Don't you worry about his illness, you just love him and guide him;
And I'll make sure he gets well soon enough.”
I remember how that scare gave you even more courage and you set it upon your heart to join the Army. On your 18th birthday, you did just that. We had a lot of fun that summer, movie nights, game nights, going out to eat Chinese...me, you and your younger siblings.
Then came the morning of 9/11. You were about to leave for basic in less than three weeks. I woke you up, telling you what happened and pleading with you to get out of your commitment. I knew it was the start of something major. We had been attacked. You simply looked at me and said “No, Mom, it's more important than ever that I go, for you, my brother and the Munchkin (pet name for his sister). America is mine.”
Your unit was one of the first to go to Iraq. I remember the day you called because you walked a little girl to school for the first time in her life. I remember some dates vividly, when your unit was said to suffer it's first casualty on May 8, 2003, only to find it was a different unit, bringing survivors' guilt home to families as well...so thankful ours were okay but grieving for someone else's loss. I lived on very little sleep during 2003 and 2004.
There is a show today called Coming Home about surprise reunions. You did just that to us when you got a two-week R & R and showed up at the front door. I was so terrified that I wrote the poem that is in this post today that very night.
It was just five years later when a knock came at the door;
Through the window she saw a soldier and she was terrified;
For nine months ago, her son had gone to war
What news was waiting on the other side?
And God said “You gave him to me and I have stayed beside him;
He's always had this Father's love;
Out on the battlefield, My Hand was there to guide him
Now open up the door and hug your son.”
Today you are home but the war is far from over. You have a brain injury, PTSD and epilepsy. If I could, I would change so much and yet so little. I would change everything that led to you going to Iraq but I wouldn't change the young man who cared enough to go.
I've also learned something. I may be strong but I still have to remember I gave you to God when you were born. That keeps me even stronger and it helps me fight for your rights, you, my courageous son who didn't come home from war the same.
I love you and I truly hope to share many more birthdays with you.