Sunday, May 2, 2010
"A friend of mine once sent me a postcard with a picture of the entire planet earth taken from space. On the back it said, "Wish you were here ."
This morning I am feeling that way. Not really here. Not really a part of today. Not really connected. But by the same token, perhaps too much here and too connected. Doesn't make sense does it? I am not at all certain it makes sense to me either.
Spending yesterday in Austin, Texas with the wives, moms, dads, children of our deployed soldiers at a Yellow Ribbon Event was energizing. Only a week ago I was at the Alamo in San Antonio, at the deployment ceremony of the 162nd Area Support Medical Company saying good bye to one of my dearest friends and 'chosen' sister, as she readied for a voluntary year in Iraq. She is the OIC (Officer in Charge) of the mental health of this entire unit - a unit that will see the worst of war. I wondered who would take care of her mental health.
Then yesterday I see families left courageously in the wake of war, families left at home to hold life together, to take care of the children, the family, the expenses - to take control and support and encourage their spouses and each other. You see, the soldiers aren't the only ones making sacrifices.
Six of our dog teams were present to spend some precious time with the children and the spouses of our military. And yes, some of the spouses at home are men. Wives and mothers are also in Iraq and Afghanistan protecting our country and fighting for right, sacrificing a year of not being able to watch their children grow, to not be there for them.
So for a few brief moments six of my dog teams were present so that the children could smile and play and run a small tractor over the back of "Mocha," and snuggle close to "Whopper," and to hold "Kelsie" around the neck and tell her her eye lashes were beautiful. "Peaches" was a show stopper in her red, white, and blue bandana, patriotic to the end! And "Maverick," with his beautiful red fur, won hearts with his gentle nature. And "Chase" quietly loved, being loved.
As I observed these few moments with our therapy dogs, I thought of the children a world away in a war torn country where there are no quiet moments, no toys, no peace, no compassion for human life, only sand and heat and soldiers carrying guns. And I stop a moment and pray for our soldiers and their safety while they are in 'harm's way' for a people and a country and a world most of us try to not think about.
I pray for children looking out at the world through broken glass, longing to grow up in a world of peace, but not knowing it is an option. Do we know how blessed we are in this country? Perhaps some of us. Perhaps most of us not.
Rushing around with an IPhone, an IPod, connected to each other, but then really not connected, we are separated from reality. The reality of this world our soldiers are fighting for and in.
I came home after the Austin event and sat down at my dining room table and cried. Cried for this mess in Iraq and Afghanistan, cried for 'my' soldiers, cried for the children, cried for the parents, the grandparents, spouses, brothers and sisters and cried because I was tired. Tired of goodbyes and not being able to do enough. Tired of so many doing nothing. Tired of seeing young men and women who have lost limbs. And tired of the anguish and horrors our young men and women face each minute of everyday, as they walk hand in hand with PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) never able to escape the horrors of war for a single second.
So this Sunday morning I drink coffee, feed my dogs, wait for the sun to rise, and prepare for another day. In my car is a box of dog food and toys and treats donated to a special therapy dog in Iraq, supporting our troops mental health. There is a box of fresh fruit bars requested by a medic deployed to Afghanistan. I had six people looking for them as far away as Canada. So yes people care and yes sometimes it seems like a drop in the bucket and a small token to give. But as I 'chatted with 'my medic' in Afghanistan on 'Facebook' (his time 1:40 am) I felt connected at least for a little while to a young man 'doing double shifts' putting bodies back together and sometimes unable to. To be able to offer him a fruit bar was something and perhaps it was just everything.
My passion is intense and deep and all consuming. For some reason I have been chosen to carry this burden and at the same time to carry this blessing.
God Bless America at all times and in all places.
To help us continue to help our troops please consider a donation, a token, to allow us to find more fruit bars for a medic in Afghanistan!