The early morning darkness was beginning to show the promise of another crisp autumn morning. Through the window I watched the orange glow of the slowly rising sun sitting just below the hills in the distance, as I took another sip of my honey sweetened tea.
Instead of enjoying this peaceful time of the early morning dawn, I sit at my desk—remembering—writing another article on the question I am most often asked.
What is it like to answer a phone call informing you that your child has been injured in battle? I must have answered that question in many different ways, over the past 9 years. But, the words were never even close to the reality of that unbearable moment—that moment when time stops—that moment when you know that nothing will ever be the same again.
I remember hearing words that made absolutely no sense. They were nothing more than a string of garbled utterances, carried through the air from a phone so far away. They entered my world without hesitation, as my hand gripped tighter and tighter around my phone. The string of words that seemed to be read from a sheet of paper, so formally, came crashing into my world trying to eliminate hope. I suspected they must be read, because of the difficulty the person on the other end of this conversation is having in just saying such things.
When the call ended, the words spoken began to take on their combined meaning. They ran through my mind while I felt as though my heart was being ripped from my chest, and I screamed with all that I am, “No!”
But the reality of those words remained, and I had to plan…
How do you plan for this “thing” you prayed would never reach your door?
You don’t—you can’t…
You simple respond, one small step at a time, as the details and realities are slowly set before you.
First the tears flow—for the life that was my child’s future, the life that has been forever changed, and then for my life as well. How selfish I felt at that moment, wondering what would be required of me. “How will I cope?” I thought, as I started that journey on a path that held only uncertainties.
The perfect child that I had handed to another was being returned damaged, but this was still my child. I had to reach deep inside my own emotions, and present a world of hope and healing that I wasn’t at all certain would exist longer than the light of one more day.
One moment, one hour, and one day at a time, I tried to do all I could to bring life back to some kind of normalcy. Normalcy—what a strange word—Its definition had been so completely changed by that single phone call. Then it had to be redefined, and its goals redirected. My son’s life, nor mine, would ever be the same, and that could be a good thing or a bad one. That was a choice we both had to make. A choice that must be made every single day for the rest of our lives.
We learned to take each day as it came, and not to try and figure out all the answers at once. The questions would change. And those answers that we were finding some small bit of comfort in, would no longer apply. Each new day would start with its own beginnings, and a different set of goals—yet to be defined.