This one a poignant one for me, as Brian & Co. left in the middle of the night Thursday, to Fort Irwin, CA, for desert training. They are gearing up for their next deployment, in October.
The first time he was deployed, as any long-time readers will know, I tried to prepare myself. I spent some hours analyzing and trying to factor out my own irrational fears, and coming to grips, basically, with The Serenity Prayer.
I don't know that any of it did any good. I fell apart periodically. And I kept it together most of the time, but sure as hell not on my own—THAT took my own army of supporters willing to pick me up and hold me up, on tougher days. The birth of Toys for Troops and all it brought into my life was a lovely distraction that made me feel as if I really could do more than nothing.
I didn't do this alone before, and I won't do it alone this time. Still, I remain, a bit, in denial. I KNOW my son is heading to Iraq, but instead of preparing myself, this time I try not to think about it.
This first photo, then, that he sent me on Wednesday hit me like a ton of bricks. This is real, mama, better start getting that through your silly little head.
We can communicate little right now, so I assumed these were photos of his company, waiting to take off for Fort Irwin.
I managed to compose myself, as he and his buddies sent me more, at my request.
There they go.
Hours later, settled in. There's Steven Moore (Steebmo) poking his head around the pole. Steebmo and Brian credit one another for making it home alive last time. Steven was the gunner on my son's bradley, and their stories are hair-raising. For saving my son's life, I will always love him. I don't even care that he partied too hard upon his homecoming and threw up in one of my pillowcases. That's how much I love him—there are very few people that could get away with that, you know.
Standish and Jolley. This one spent Thanksgiving in my house also. He has a distinct, joyous laugh that I can always recognize in the background when I talk to Brian. He laughs, and I say "Tell Standish hey."
And we're caught up, to this morning. I sent Brian a text, asking for one more pic, before I posted this entry. This one came in, with his caption:
"The view out the back of my brad."
He sent me another note, saying that 5 guys were watching a movie in that bradley, on a 7-inch screen. Being Mumsy, I asked him for a photo of that too:
And, ummm...since I'm the boss of Standish, I told HIM to take a picture of Brian for me. Brian sent me this one, then, with the caption:
It's Independence Day. I'm embarrassed to admit that this was a day that once used to be, to me, more about picnics and fireworks, and a day off from work, and less about why were celebrating, and who we had to thank for it.
Brian and his comrades continue to make me strive to be a better person.
This is just one more aspect of how my son has changed my life.