Wednesday, October 27, 2010



What grows your soul, deepens your mind and, mostly what opens your heart?

Do you neglect or reject parts of yourself?

Today I met a woman, who in a short thirty minutes changed my life.  I do not know her name.  I shall call her Ann.

At the quarterly Marine Town Hall Meeting (Wounded Warrior Battalion) at SAMMC, Ann managed to touch my life and  heart most unexpectedly.  Not surprisingly, we met playing with the Marine's newest mascot, an English Bulldog female puppy named Amos.  She sat on a bench with a neatly folded handmade quilt in her lap, as we talked about dogs.  Her dogs and mine.  There was a deep unspoken sadness in her face.  Her eyes told the story. I knew the story before she spoke. Ann was from California.  I simply asked if she had 'someone' at SAMMC in the hospital.  This is when I once again grew up. 

Her son, a Marine, had been severely burned over two years ago in Iraq and was still in ICU.  "I stayed here with him for a year, but then I knew it was time to go home."  Living in Northern California in a space no larger than half of a garage, she flies into San Antonio every month to sit by her son's bed and just be there.  He doesn't hear her, see her, and most likely doesn't know she is there.  She has no choice.  This is her son. Where else would she be?

I came home and wept.  Wept for her, for her son, for all the other young men and women and their families just like hers who grieve, who live life minute to minute in fear, in disbelief, in agony, in rage, in outrageous pain. What do you say? What do you do? 

You want to do something, anything, to stop their pain.  But there isn't anything you can do.  You can pray, you can emotionally walk away, you can stop cold in your tracks and yell and scream, "This isn't fair!"  But where do you go with your own pain? How do you stop your own suffering?  How can you suffer when their pain is so much worse? How can you forget, turn away, or ignore what they are going through? 

The Marines don't forget, or turn away or ignore her horrendous grief!  They hold her in their arms, close to their hearts.  She is family!  She is their family.  She has a place where she belongs and is welcomed and understood.  And more importantly is accepted and not judged, because they too feel her pain and grief, because her son is one of their brothers.

She held the handmade quilt close to her chest.  As comfort perhaps or perhaps not.  Perhaps she wanted to scream into it and stiffle the sound.  Perhaps she wanted to do anything to stop the suffering for both of them.  I had no words.  There were no words.  She knew I cared and cared deeply.  Tonight there are still no words. 

She is returning to California tomorrow to her one half garage and her cats and her birds and her fish.  She is surrounded there by life, living things.  I sensed she couldn't go on without the peace these creatures provide. 

Tonight I think of her and pray for her and cry for her.  Tonight I praise the Marines who hold her as if she were their own mother, as she holds them, as if they were her son.  I wish I could take away her pain. I wish I could erase the unbearable grief in her eyes that tonight is held much to close to my heart. A heart that is wide open. 

I wish I knew her name.

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