Just Breathe!

I first heard about it when I pulled into the driveway tonight. I’d been at a class that I take each week. We’d had fun and learned quite a bit. As I pulled into the driveway and heard the initial reports, that the United States had launched a military airstrike on Syria, I stopped my car. After several seconds, I realized I had stopped breathing.

I’m still a relatively new MoM. My Marine only deployed last month. I wouldn’t expect anything less from this son– he had the mindset of a Marine years before he became one. He loves this country, and has a servant’s heart. And I knew this day would come eventually. You know, eventually – that day that is never actually supposed to get here. Well, it arrived. It blindsided me, and I’ve forgotten how to breathe.

I’ve been taught all the Marine Mom stuff. We’re the mothers of Devil Dogs! We’re proud and brave. We’re stronger than our sons – after all, we raised them! Semper Gumby is our motto – Always flexible. We know that nothing is a fact until it is released by the US Marine Corp and Department of Defense. We know that by the time we hear the news reports, the information is already hours, even days, old. We have been told that no news is good news. We’ve also been taught that if you hear it on the news, not to worry about it. The media excels at blowing a story out of proportion. Instead, we worry about what we don’t hear.  And there’s a lot of stuff we will never hear.

I forgot how much we should respect the family members of military men and women, probably because I grew up in a family of military men and women. I was quite young when my father was in Southeast Asia and am thankful that I’ve forgotten so much. It’s difficult to imagine all the details, and to consider how hard things are on your family when nothing seems out of the normal realm of family life for you. Until I was in high school, I never knew of a time when my dad wasn’t gone, just returning, or preparing to be gone again soon. This was our version of normal. I forgot about the days when we had trouble just remembering to breathe.

As I watch the various news channels tonight, I’m noticing how the discussion is on the geopolitical ramifications of the attack. Many comments have been made regarding President Trump’s first military strike. Social media outlets are already thick and deep with negative comments regarding the President’s prior comments (as in three years ago) regarding US response to Syria’s misbehavior. After watching reports for over three hours, I can now recite all the pertinent details regarding the strike. I know from where the missiles were launched, what they hit, casualties, potential follow up strike suggestions, the opinions of a few retired military leaders, and even which floor of the Pentagon still has people working tonight.

I know all of this, but somehow, I’ve forgotten how to breathe.

Three hours later, I’m still watching the news, trying to remember that until I hear from, or news about, my Marine, I don’t need to worry. I keep looking at the world map I have across the room, trying desperately to remember that the Middle East is much bigger than my living room wall – my Marine is surely far away from any danger. I’m trying to remember that he is just as safe wherever he is as he would be upstairs in his own bed. Where ever he is, God has him in the palm of his hand.

And I’m trying to remember how to breathe.

 

~Temerity Dowell

Missing my Boys

This week my younger son left home to deploy on his first mission with the US Marine Corps. I’m proud beyond belief. I also miss him greatly.

Earlier today, my older son, who serves in the Army National Guard, headed off for an extended drill weekend. Due to storms last month they had to cancel their scheduled activities for safety reasons, so I assumed they would be making up those things this month. As my soldier headed to his car, I asked, “Will you be jumping out of planes or helicopters?” His reply made me smile. “If we do, I’ll remember to take a garbage bag, Mom.”

Back story: Somewhere between a hundred years ago and yesterday morning, my sons were young. And they were very typical boys. Because we homeschooled them, they had many hours each day to find things to do on our family farm. We never owned video games or had a lot of movie channels, so entertainment sometimes involved rocks, sticks, ropes, and imaginary characters. Games of cowboys and Indians were common. Their adventurous spirit led them up trees, to the woods, in the pond, and down the zip line into a tree. It is truly a miracle that they both made it through childhood with little more than a few stitches.

One time my future soldier decided he wanted to jump out of the barn loft with a parachute. Parachutes being difficult to find for the average 10 year old, he decided to use a plastic trash bag instead….more than once. Obviously it was completely ineffective, but he really didn’t care. For all I know, he listed it under “Experience” when asked by the Army if he had ever jumped from a high point. Today, he does have his jump wings, and loves every opportunity he gets to jump from perfectly good airplanes and helicopters. And today, he uses a real parachute instead of a garbage bag. Go, Army!

I knew from the time he was young that his mind was on the military. When he was only 12 years old, we went to a local Civil Air Patrol meeting. At the end of the evening, he looked at me awkwardly as he showed me the emblem that they had given him when he “joined.” I should have known. He loved every weekly meeting, wearing his uniform, doing the physical training, taking tests to advance in rank, and even saluting superior ranking students and leaders. He was made for the military.

My young Marine, however, never showed one minute of interest in Civil Air Patrol. He wasn’t interested in the military; he was interested in cows. Somehow I managed to get it in my mind that he would graduate from high school and work in the agricultural field, perhaps as a feed lot buyer, a 4-H agent, or artificially inseminating cows (he was trained to do this by the Agricultural Extension Agency in our state when he was only 16). He had become a Master Beef Producer when he was just 14. He was supposed to grow up, live nearby (if not at my home), raise cows on our property, and eventually get married and give me the granddaughters that I so richly deserve to spoil.

My uncle was a Marine veteran who had served in Vietnam, spending part of his time in a North Vietnamese prison camp as a POW. A brain tumor, possibly caused by Agent Orange, was what took his life when my son was 16. My sons grew up around veterans. Both of my parents served in the military. My husband served, his father served, and his brother served. Three of my uncles served. Even though he had never given any indication that he might be interested in the military, my younger son decided when he was a teen that every young man should serve his country. So he became a Marine.

Someday, all my dreams for my younger son may come true. I’m especially believing Jesus for that last part, since I think I possess great potential at being a grandmother. But for now, he is somewhere in the world on a ship for the US Marine Corps. Oorah!

Forgive the ramblings of a sentimental mother. I am really missing my sons tonight.

 

~Temerity Dowell

 

Slings and Arrows, Be Damned

Nearly every day, I encounter the Shakespearian “slings and arrows of outrageous fortune” due to my community activism. Yesterday was no different.

I attended a political meeting in the early afternoon. I had been given only a few hours to prepare to speak at this meeting in opposition to a resolution that could be harmful for my community. I was very nervous as I prepared for this. I made a few phone calls to people who know more about this than me. I had researched the topic the night before and that morning. Yet, I was very uneasy about the whole matter.

I knew that people on the committee I was addressing did not think highly of me, nor did some of the people in the gallery. Some of my arguments were scoffed at, while others had been dismissed completely- typical behavior for leftists. One member raised his voice as he questioned my comments. I don’t think it could have been worse.

While I was told that I had done well, and the goal we had established was met, I still didn’t feel like I had accomplished everything I could have. Maybe I’m just not good enough or smart enough to make a difference.

I felt defeated. I asked myself if this is really what I want to do. Do I really want to make these public presentations? Do I really want to fight for justice in the political arena? Do I really want to put myself on the firing line for liberals to attack me freely? These are the thoughts that I took to bed with me – the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune.

After another restless night of catnapping, I finally succumbed to the daylight and gave up any chance of sleep. I reached for my phone and glanced at the emails, Facebook notifications, and some news briefs while lying under my warm covers, still not wanting to get out of bed. It was okay; I have a light schedule this morning.

My son is currently in Marine Corp boot camp, so I checked our private Facebook page to see if anything interesting had been posted there since yesterday evening. I saw a link to a video explaining what my son was learning this week. I normally don’t watch these things. They make me cry. I’m a mom. It’s hard.

It’s especially difficult when you see these videos and drill instructors are yelling at your sons. Yes, they are my sons now. As the Marine MoM* saying goes, “My son has many brothers, therefore, I have many sons.” In these videos, there is always noise – yelling, gunfire, grunting, screaming, cadences, footsteps, hitting, and more yelling. For thirteen weeks, these young men and women have no peace. They are pushed to their perceived limit, then they are pushed some more. It’s all in preparation to do what they will have to do to protect our nation and defend freedom.

As I lay in my warm bed, listening to the rain falling outside, in no hurry to go anywhere this morning, I watched this video. And I got a wake-up call!

How dare I lay there under my warm blankets lamenting over some jack ass commissioner’s unkind words. What gall it took for me to commiserate over an upset stomach caused by a difficult public meeting. If these young men (and women) are willing to put their very lives on the line for a nation conceived in liberty, don’t I owe it to them to make it the best nation possible?

So I got out of my bed, made a strong cup of coffee, and accelerated into my day. Every day that a soldier, airman, seaman, or Marine is willing to stand and fight for me, I will work toward making it a better day for their sake. I will work toward giving them a country that is worthy of their service. If they are willing to take a bullet for my freedom, then I must be willing to take on a difficult political issue for them. They secured the freedom, now I must accept the responsibility of maintaining it.

Slings and arrows, be damned. Someone is willing to take a bullet for me.

~Temerity Dowell

*MoM stands for Mother of a Marine. Since Marine is always correctly capitalized, the second M in MoM is, too.