Monday, May 16, 2016

When I was in Iraq: Part Three

For this post, I need to actually take a step back in time. Today is my twin brother's wedding anniversary. He and his wife, Shari, married this day in 2004. 

I was, of course, in attendance, but I knew that I would be getting on a plane the following week to fly to Egypt, and that I would not return to the United States before then spending the three months in Iraq that I had agreed to.

And so, twelve years ago right now, I was enjoying a bittersweet time of contact with my family, and the angst--the dread--of where I was about to go.

My late mother was in poor health, as she had been for many years. In consultation with my father and others, we had decided to keep her in the dark about my upcoming trip until just before this weekend.

It was a delightful time; a traditional Jewish Wedding.

And my family, including my mother, all knew what was happening the next week.

There were laughter and tears. There were hugs. And as I separated from them all, I felt a deep sadness. I had to do this thing. But what was I putting my mother through? 

As a mother of four boys and one girl in the height of the Cold War, she undoubtedly had the low grade anxiety of wondering how she would face sending sons off to War in the inevitably expected war with the Communists.

But then Communism ended. She probably then never thought she would send a son to war. But now, here she was doing exactly that.

She told me that, no matter what, I was not to change my mission. 

She said that because she knew she was in poor health. And anything can happen. I understood and I promised her I would obey. Little did I knew that the issue would arise a few months later.

I hugged her and we both cried and cried.

And so, twelve years ago today, I took leave of my family and moved in the direction of my service in Iraq,

My mother arranged for me to be prayed for every Sunday at her Lutheran Church.  Every Sunday she heard, during the General Prayers, "For Keith...in Iraq."

She had become...a war mother. Like so many others in times such as WWII or other conflicts. I hope she received regularly consolation from her faith community as she passed through that time.

She would pass through days upon days of knowing I was in harm's way but not knowing really how I was.

As I continue to tell this story, I will recount how she experienced a major health crisis while I there...


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