Monday, April 02, 2007

Joy and Tumult

The last 5 days have been a whirlwind. Ilaiy's in town; we spent 2 days running the ethnic neighborhoods in Chicago, taking photos and stuffing ourselves with great food.

Our friends, Melissa and Joey got married Saturday night; one of the funnest weddings I've ever attended. We ate, drank, and merried until 2 a.m. Sunday morning.

A dinner party at my house last night, with Ilaiy serving as Guest Chef: A roasting pan full if Indian rice & lamb (Biryani) made the way Mami makes it. Old friends and new in attendance for food and reunion-izing.

And in the midst of all of this merry-making was laced fear, tears and heartache. Maybe it will get easier as we adjust, but having a loved one newly in's hard to explain the emotional rollercoastering.

You do what you can to stay strong, and move forward with hope and strength, and then suddenly the rug is pulled out from under you, and you find yourself on your face. And all you can do is get back up, dust yourself off, straighten out the rug, and start walking.

I am blessed to have remained friends with Brian's dad, Jeff. We have a pact: If you hear from him, let me know.

We are still handling this situation differently. Since Brian left, I've been watching the news like crazy. Watching War Zone Diary, and The Soldier's Heart, a documentary on PTSD. Jeff, on the other hand, has had to change the channel, throw away the newspaper, and turn off the radio; he's cut himself off from the media.

It's not a bad idea. One of my friends recently chided "shut that off! You'll make yourself crazy!" I promised him "when I can't take it any more, I'll turn it off."

Three nights later I dreamed that I was driving my car down a road with landmines exploding left and right, and that I could smell gunpowder in my car.

Hm. Maybe I will make myself crazy. But how can I not look? You don't send your kid to college without checking out the campus! How can I wave mine off to war, and choose not to look at where he is? I simply can't. For now, I'll take the nightmares along with the education.

Anyway, I was in Chicago's Chinatown Friday afternoon, heading back to the car after eating rice out of a pineapple, and taking photos of old men scooping live shrimp and big fat frogs out of giant aquariums, and shopping, and laughing all afternoon with Ilaiy, when Jeff called.

He'd just gotten off the phone with Brian. His first mission is tomorrow night, 2 a.m. He is "scared to death." Two other companies had been hit this week, by bombs with cone-shaped disks meant to tear through armored vehicles. No one killed, but men hurt. Their conversation still raw, I can hear that Jeff is crying while he tells me that Brian sends his love. I was, by then, sitting in my car in Chinatown, crying along with him, consoling him as I consoled myself: "he's going to be fine. This is so tough, he'll call on Sunday, and he'll be fine." We know it. We KNOW it. But we cry anyway.

And then I start the car and drive back to Champaign, where we meet friends for dinner.

Brian is fine.

I got email from him yesterday:
I'll be calling a bit later. I'm waiting on my friend to get back from his mission because I dont like walking around here by myself when its dark.
I responded "don't do anything you're not comfortable doing just to get to a phone!"

He got through few hours later, while I was driving to the grocery store. I pulled over and turned the car off in front of a "never ever ever park here or we'll haul you to jail" sign. They could cuff me for all I cared; I wasn't going anywhere.

First mission went fine, Brian told me. He's been to a few Baghdad Memorials (The Unknown Soldier, and the Swords of Victory). The Architecture is amazing, palaces and small street shops alike, though don't vacation there to check it out. He can't think of anything he needs right now, will call again on Tuesday.

And a P.S. in another e-mail:
Oh yeah, I swam in Saddam's pool too. Crazy.
Good God. Crazy is right. In my mind he is 4 years old, and I am squawking, "you get out of that nasty man's pool! I don't care if he is dead, you're not swimming in his pool! He's dirty! Bad!"

In summary...having a kid in Bagdhad sucks Saddam pool water. But he's fine. I was infinitely relieved and lighter of heart after hearing his voice, and got right to conferencing with his Dad, who also feels better. For now. Whew. Only 17 more months to go.

And I know some of you have been waiting; I have his mailing address for any of you that are interested. Email me at, and I will give you the particulars.

He, so far, is in want of nothing, but I'll post ideas when I get them.

Oh, and love to you all, from me and my kid.


  1. Definitely a few days filled with highs and lows.

    I don't you blame for wanting to know what's going over there but I can only imagine how difficult it must be for you to watch.

    Wow, Saddam's pool, that is crazy.

    Stay strong.

  2. Tell Brian to believe in his "Spidey" sense. That always worked for me.

    When in any type of combat zone, always trust you hunches and gut feelings and the little voices screaming inside your head.

    I am here today because of them.

    Jeff has probably told him the same thing already.

  3. Stressful times. Stay strong.

  4. OK, I ddn't know he was HERE here. Dang I walk by that pool every day!

    Tell him to stop by River Police Station.

  5. Sadaam's Pool!!! I'd probably say the same thing !! "Git out!!! Now!!"

    I'm glad he is good..and that you are hold on....I know you got it in ya!! Be strong!!

  6. Stay strong. Saddam's pool.. That is just bizarre...

  7. Pool you say? Humm, looks like a fancy toilet to me! I don't blame you for not wanting him to swim in that hole. Bad carma.

  8. KARMA too (oops)

  9. We're all thinking about you & Brian, and I'm sure everybody appreciates all of your updates as much as I do!

    But SADDAM'S POOL? THAT'S a good story!!!


  10. Make sure you pass along Paradise Driver's advice. Also, the SGM used to say he didn't want anyone with him who wasn't scared. The scared meant you wanted to get out of the situation intact. So the fact that Brian was scared is a good thing. And good grief but hook him up with Barry!!!! :):)

    You're stronger than you know. Keep on keeping on. {{{gng}}}

  11. Anonymous7:23 PM


    i know you love and are proud of your son (as I am of mine) but it bothers me that his name and mailing address pop up when i do a google search of APO AE 09308. My son is at that address also (they most likely know each other) and anyone can now send a package to Brian. Let's hope only those who are thankful for his service and care about his welfare sending him packages.

    not mad but very concerned.

  12. Anon, I asked around and did my research before posting Brian's address. Most of the military friends I know thought it would be fine, posting his address no different than someone sending a package to "any soldier", which is done all the time. I also checked out U.S. Gov security sights, and could find nothing against posting addresses.

    I meant only to leave it up long enough to alert friends and family of the new address. I've still gotten enough complaints that I've taken it down entirely, until I research it further.


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