As it turns out, I've been struggling with a post about being a soldier's Mother for the last 6 days.
For you newcomers, my son, Brian, was deployed to Kuwait on March 9. This military stuff is new to me, and it seems like an eternity. Our last phone call was 3 weeks ago. It lasted 1 minute, 53 seconds, in which time he told me there would be no more e-mail or telephone contact, for quite some time.
For the rest of you, I'm happy to report that we finally got an e-mail from him, on Sunday afternoon:
I'm very busy and havent been able to put a letter together yet. I'm doing well. Its getting pretty warm here. Makes it hard to stay clean. I got your package. Thank you much. I'll write you when i get a chance. Love you, BrianI was at the coffee shop when I read that, and Momo and Mike can attest to my great excitement. I hooped and hollered, and got right on the phone to call his father. "Check your e-mail, check it now!"
I'm not sure where he was at the time, but it wasn't long before I got a call back from him; he got one too! Yay! He got e-mail too, ohmigod, we are both so relieved.
It's been a rough couple of weeks. 3 weeks since we've heard from Brian, and we had no idea how long it would be before we got word from him. Will it be days, weeks, or months? Did he get our mail? Is he writing us? Is he ok?
Having so few answers so far, news of 9 soldiers lost in one battle shook me to the core. And then again, of one of our own, Lucas Starcevich, from Tolono...I cannot imagine his family's pain, and yet, I do, even in my sleep.
It is the following entry, that I have been struggling with, and finally decided I could not write. Everyone reading here knows me; what could I say to you that wasn't stating the obvious? But there are a few more in the mix now, and I feel somehow obligated to talk to them.
So, new readers. Thanks for dropping in.
Our community has lost a soldier.
Pfc. Lucas Starcevich, from Tolono, was killed on his second tour of duty in Iraq, on April 16. Though we did not know him personally, his loss rocked our burg. Champaign, Urbana, Tolono, and all of the surrounding small towns mourn for him and his family.
I did not know him. I did not know his family. As the days have gone by, connections have been made; there are few degrees of separation in a community our size. Brian's brother, Dustin, is on the track team with Lucas' little sister.
I had been out of town, and discovered by accident on Friday morning that the funeral procession was going right by my workplace. I ran out for an errand, and noted this scene on the overpass:
I parked at the end of the street, and walked up, to meet these guys.
They were very kind as I approached, and listened as I told them that my son was in Iraq, and asked them about their lives. Lawhorn is on the left. He's been in for 7 years, and has a wife and a baby. He has done one tour in Iraq, and is considering returning for another. His wife doesn't care for the idea.
Jessup is on the right; he's served 9 years. I (somewhat) jokingly asked him "Does your Mother still cry?"
I called my boss and told him I'd be back when this was over. And I joined these guys. Everyone was so nice. One of the firefighters, whom my research tells me was Lt. Dan Brown, from Champaign, approached me and invited me to sit in the truck to get out of the wind, and stay warm.
When the procession was in sight, all of the men climbed up on the trucks, with flags, and stood at attention. They invited me to join them, and I did. I'm nervous with heights, and was fidgety and choked up, and climbed back down after only a few minutes. But I was honored by their invitation, more than they'll ever know.
As the procession advanced toward us, escorted by police officers, firetrucks, patriot guards, I stood also, in front of these men.
Just one more mother.
And my tears fell like rain.
This is my son also. He's your son, your brother, your friend. His family your family.
I'm proud to be from a community that showed their support to the Starcevich family on Friday morning. We lined the streets. A principal of one school rescheduled standardized testing for the day, so the students could stand at attention along the procession route. I have neighbors that took the day off to stand on the route. Momo's husband Mike rode, with what seemed like hundreds of others, with the Patriot Guards that day.
After the procession, Jessup and Lawhorn climbed down from that truck, and with absolutely no reservations, I gave each of them a hug. "This is from your mother," I told them.
And I went back to work.
That's about as far as I got, without totally tripping up.
I don't know what I hope to accomplish by writing about Lucas Starcevich. I don't want to sensationalize this tragedy. I know everyone wants this war to end.
Honestly, I want to rant and rail. I want to grab you by the lapels, and look you in the eyes, and say: "This really is happening. There is a community somewhere, everyday, lining its streets, and sending servicemen and firefighters to wave giant flags over highway overpasses!! Don't you see? Doesn't everyone see?"
But this I also know: Everyone does see. I don't know anyone that isn't sickened by this war, and the daily tragedies and grief and pain that result from it.
I feel helpless. I can't just stand here! What am I going to do?
Well. I'm going to continue to read and educate myself on political issues, vote for the candidates I think will make a difference, and sign the petitions I believe in.
I'm making contributions to Anysoldier.com. If you don't personally know a soldier, help out an anonymous one. There's a family out there that has adopted MY son, and I love them for it. The more people that love your kid, the better, I always said.
I'm looking into http://www.gi-bracelet.org/.
I'm sending sensible and whimsical stuff to my son, in hopes that what he can't use, he has a buddy that will: I know Lathrop likes to draw; maybe a few art supplies for him?
I'm supporting the USO, anyone that can make my soldier babies laugh for a day gets my spare change.
I am doing, kids, anything that makes me feel like I did anything.
It is what I can do.
Because I can't do nothing.
I simply cannot.
I hope you'll join me in not doing nothing.
And thanks for stopping by. I hope to hear from you.
Memorials to the Starcevich family can be made to the memorial fund at Busey Bank for an educational fund in his name, American Legion or VFW of the donor's choice or the Champaign County Humane Society.