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.