Monday, August 6, 2012

Monday Momism: Life is Like a Box of Chocolates, Just Like Forrest Said

Have you ever noticed how you look at things differently after having a loved one serve in a war zone? It's not unusual, in fact, it's quite common. Some people have secondary PTSD; some are just more aware of what it is that they could have (and sadly, some did) lose should their loved one not make it home. Others, while grateful theirs came home, miss the innocence and memories of who that person was before spending time in a war zone.

Yesterday, my husband and I watched one of my all-time favorite movies, Forrest Gump. It already had a sentimental quality about it because my younger son's middle name is Forest and my older one was referred to by a neighbor on a military base we lived on as Foreest Gump because he looked a lot like the young boy who played Tom Hanks' character when he met the love of his life, Jenny. I still remember it to this day, how we all laughed. He looked at us and said he really was referring to my son's looks and not insulting him because of the slowness of the young boy in the film. We explained about that actually being a family name and belonging to the younger son.

That happened in the 90s. Back then, the movie was another wonderful Tom Hanks film with great phrases repeated for years across the world, such as “Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you're gonna get.”

How ironically true that statement is. I had been a military spouse. I had three great kids who were the absolute loves of my own life and was told many times how awesome they were. I never would have dreamed one of them would go to war someday.

As we sat watching the movie, it went from football to a war zone in Vietnam. Suddenly the tears began streaming down my face and my husband held me tight. We honestly had to fast forward through the scenes of Bubba's passing and Lt. Dan's rescue. They brought back painful memories of finding out about my son's comrades passing and the rescue of his commander. My son didn't get a medal for that nor did his comrades but I have an email from that same commander that is more priceless than any medal on earth could ever be, telling me that my son is one of the reasons he is alive today.

Life is like a box of chocolates, even today. We don't know if it will be a good or bad day with his PTSD and brain injury. We don't know if a scene in a movie will bring us to tears. We don't know if seeing the American flag blowing as we pass a house will bring a sense of greater pride now that we have experienced what true sacrifice means.

The thing is, there are still many who don't understand until they go through it. Even today, while getting frustrated with the system and the misunderstandings, I still would not wish on them what my family and so many others are going through.

For those of you going through the box of chocolates on your own, know that there are others around who DO understand, who do get how you are feeling. Contact us here at Family of a Vet. If you are the mom of a soldier or veteran (and even if you aren't), feel free to email me at and I will help you find a group or resource in your area.

By the way? That box of chocolates? Sometimes you find one that you never tasted or experienced before and it takes you on a new journey. I can't watch Forrest Gump with the same affection I once did, but now, because my own “Forrest Gump” has been to war, I can love and appreciate it even more. Let's help you find the positives in those adventures with your own box of chocolates, okay?