Tuesday, September 14, 2010
Pre-Homecoming Post: Mama, (de)Composed.
We are still driving, driving, splitting our 12-hour drive into 2 legs this time; we stopped at a no-frills Red Roof Inn to sleep after the first 6 hours last night. Clint's parents have loaned us their luxurious cadillac; when my muscles get stiff, I just turn on the sauna, aka heated seats. Ahhhhh.
In our trunk is our a military footlocker full of I-don't-know-what, a cooler with 12-inch frozen Papa Del's stuffed pepperoni pizza, and the toaster oven right out of my kitchen.
It is 1:23 p.m. right now. That's 13:23 in Brian-land.
Brian-land happens to be exactly where we're headed. My son's plane flies in tonight, and I have every intention of arriving hours early and parking my butt on the tarmac to watch that puppy fly in. I have my own special line to Fort Benning, and was just informed by a serious voice on the other end that the ceremony will begin at 18:30, and the plane flies in at 20:10.
I fret, having had the impression that the plane was to fly in at 18:30, and a plan to arrive 2 hours before that. At...(18:30 minus 2 hours, ummmm) 16:30. Do we wait now, run the risk of either being 4 hours early, which is a lot of hours early...or, god forbid, showing up late and missing something! ::faint::
I know what, I'll call them again after we check into our hotel. I am pretty sure that I won't be the first Mom in history to ask again, what time her kid is flying in to an army base.
I've been reflecting a lot, in the last couple weeks, on this second homecoming, and on his second tour. I think about my reactions to Brian's first tour, and occasionally being introduced to other, more-stoic-than-I mothers. Mothers that had done this twice or thrice already. Mothers that could say "My son is in Iraq," without bursting into tears like little girls. Mothers that were so damned collected.
What in the hell was wrong with them? Screw composure! Screw grace!
I much preferred the company of Rookie Soldier mothers; those that still found the experience raw. Those that would just "get" that if you found yourself having the most wonderful time on any beautiful day, you check yourself on the spot, and remember where your kid is and wonder what he's doing, and you kind of want to go home now.
There have been moments. Some time after Brian returned from his first tour, Clint and I were driving home from a festival, and on a whim, turned into a divy little bar for a beverage. The clientele on that day consisted of several men, and 1 woman, cutting up and keeping them infinitely amused with her raucous humor. While we sat, Brian called me from his base, honestly, to ask how he should go about cooking a cornish hen. When we got off the phone, I somehow mentioned to the fellow next to me that my kid was calling from an army base, that he'd recently returned from his first tour.
Minutes later I turned around to find the fun rowdy lady standing in front of me, looking directly into my eyes. She seemed suddenly shy, and she looked at me seriously and said,
"My boy's in Iraq."
I looked back into her eyes for a few seconds, and then asked her, "how you doin, Mama?" We both teared up and laughed, and talked for a few minutes, and left each other with a hug and wishes and assurances: It's all gonna be ok.
It is certainly not lost on me that I've been in a different state of mind, on this, my second rodeo. I have been much more the mother that I couldn't wrap my head around before. I pulled off that smiling and nodding routine, and resisted the urge to shake you by the lapels. Part of it was that I've been here, and done this, and as a friend pointed out, we acclimate.
But this time around, I had more access to communication with Brian. Neither of us used Facebook before, and even if we had his access was infrequent. I had email and gmail and gchat and Facebook, and Skpe, and oh, the occasional phone call.
I have also come to know many more of his friends on this tour, through Facebook. We banter online, and occasionally talk, sometimes seriously, and sometimes just pure b.s. I know who works with my son, who has his back, and who he'd give his life to protect. I am quite simply, more in the loop this time around. While that gives me more people to worry about, it also leaves many more comforting me, whether they mean to or not.
Also, there was a lot less violence to be dealt with on this tour, if everything Brian told me was to be believed. "Fine, fine, everything's fine, nothing happening here." He said that last time, too, and I found out differently when he got home, it was hell over there on his 1st tour. If the filtered-for-mother reports are to be believed, things really were slower there this time, and he was appreciative. When he was home on leave he told me that the "young guys were wishing for an IED," and he'd correct them, "no, you really do NOT want to get hit." I liked hearing that life was boring there, I liked it very much.
So, yes. I am calm and cool and full of grace this time around.
Oh, and by the way....I am full of shit; I have been spontaneously bursting into tears for the last 2 weeks, and watching websites and asking for days off that I'm not sure, of, PEOPLE, MY KID IS COMING HOME FROM FUCKING IRAQ IN 0600 HOURS OR 0400 HOURS OR 0800 HOURS, WHAT FUCKING TIME IS IT, I AM SICK TO DEATH OF THIS WAR SHIT, OH, HOW I WISH I COULD DO A CARTWHEEL.
Get your shotglasses ready, people. I'll keep you posted.