Brian called me last night, asked what I was doing. "Buying sheets and pillows," I told him "do you want blue, or blue?" "Kuhl. I'll take blue."
Silly, but still thrilling. He really will be home soon, to see the blue sheets.
I've sent him sheets. Pillows. Pillowcases. Since he's been gone, I've learned that army issue pillows leave something to be desired, and fresh bedding isn't always on the mind of a young soldier after a 48-hour mission. I think of him making, as he put it, "Bed Angels" when he came home on furlough last summer.
Luxury. I want to pamper these guys, when they come home. I'm nervous.
They are nervous.
I had a poignant conversation with my son earlier this week. Are you excited to come home? Are you ready for the culture shock?
Normally calm and easy going, I hear him get edgy with the question, and I tense up myself. Nervous, he is nervous. Anxious. Transitioning from 13 months of caution, tension, violence, bombs, fear, anger, dust, boredom, testosterone, heat, cold, exhaustion, frustration, heartache, and guns...to hot showers, soft beds, soft clothes, an abundance of food and drink, and the faces of friends and family that you miss so much, and strangers that want to say "thank you," in the space of a few days time...
Nervous. They are all nervous, and he told me this [with his permission, to share it with you]:
"I was talking with my LT; he told me, `Man, I just feel like, when I get home, my wife will make me a beautiful dinner, set it on the table...and I'll just start crying.' And I said 'yeah. I know what you mean.' "It's a moment in my life that I will never forget. I was standing in Menards, looking at floor tile, when my son told me that they worry that a home-cooked meal is what might "undo" them when they get home.
I tell him that it's true; these things will probably be overwhelming. And that they will be dropped back here, heroes all. "I'm sure it's difficult to wrap your mind around," I told him, "that people really do appreciate what you're doing there. For us. You don't get it, but you are a hero to us, to so many here."
And I advise him, as a Mother that knows damned well that she has no idea what she's talking about:
"Be gracious. Thank them for coming. Bow out when you have to. Take a breath. Move away from anything that's too much to handle. Say that you have to get some air. And leave the room, until you're ready to come back. However long that takes."
I myself begin to worry, and speak further with Brian, the next time he calls. "I hope I don't hug you too much! I hope I don't pet you too much! What about Stephen, he doesn't know me, but I want to pet him too! I want to spoil you, but I don't want to be overbearing."
I know that things will be just fine, when he answers:
"If you spoil us, Mom, you'll probably just hear us purring."Game on, kid.