A tear drop hit my pillow last night as I lay awake …..followed moments later by a second and a third. The last one was a long, streaming one, which I think had a more profound significance than the others. Certainly this was the one that forced me to choke back a real melt down.
It has been two and a half months since I had really let my emotions come forth. It was tough saying goodbye to my oldest son, Kristopher, that day at the Boone campus. He along with some 100 other National Guardsman boarded 4 busses and headed off to Camp Shelby in Mississippi. It was a day unlike any other I had known. Families being stretched to the greatest of emotional lengths. Some said goodbye to husbands, others to wives, son and daughters. There were young spouses no doubt left with the responsibility of trying to explain what was going on and why mommy or daddy was leaving on a bus with a whole lot of other people. Another young lady, looking to give birth within a month or so, tried to hold back tears. She wasn’t doing a very good job, but who was I to talk. Yet, looking around me, I could only think of how each of our lives would become different. Yes, our tears were real that day……..
Last night though, my tears were different. They were bigger and they came out of nowhere. And they were much different than the ones back on July 30th. And they are different again today as I try to put my feelings down with words that don’t do justice. Justice for me, my family and all the other men and women and their friends and families who are experiencing their loved one deploying to Afghanistan. Today, when my son leaves, and in the following weeks more than 3,000 Iowa Guardsman will be leaving our safe shores to DEPLOY. Not train, but deploy.
What does deploy mean? I had to look it up to make sure. Google had a short definition which stated, “to move into a position of readiness or availability.” Okay…that makes sense. Yet, I feel there is one important word that was left out. REAL. There will be Real bullets and a Real enemy for REAL. And it’s all for Real life and real death in a region that I‘m still trying to get my mind wrapped around. Is Afghanistan all that important? Are we fighting on level terms? Those questions alone are enough to make a person tear up.
So as you can see, my tears have been different. They were a “safe” tear when I knew my son was here in our country preparing for his duty. Now, it’s the furthest thing from that. Safe tears have been replaced by scared tears, followed by proud tears followed by scared tears.
It goes without saying, that I have come to a greater appreciation for our military and our country through this whole deployment process. Men and women have taken to their responsibility and are making all Iowans proud. I won’t kid you, it’s going to be a long 9 months. What do my future tears hold in store for me? Will it be for someone who has a solider wounded? Or will it be for one killed in action? I can’t even think of going there.
It has been said that tears are good for the soul. It’s our reaction to an experience. It has an awful lot to do with living, I think. If you’ve seldom let your emotions or experiences taken you there, then today, think about those whose lives will be challenged from every angle possible. An old sixties song, “96 Tears” sure comes to mind right now. “Cry, cry, cry…96 tears, tears for the warm hearted, 96 tears.” How many tears do I have left? I don’t really know, but I do know this. The shortest and sweetest verse in the Bible is…. ‘‘Jesus wept.” Puts it all in perspective, don’t you think?