Life throws us curve balls whether we’re prepared or not and we need to Army Up, accept, adapt and advance because life goes on. Days turn into weeks, weeks into months and months into years and it’s beneficial to enjoy our life to the best of our ability rather than wallow in self-pity.
Tragedy, I’ve always said, brings out the best of our character, if there is any to be had. At 6:35 pm on July 20th my family was given the ultimate test as I answered the call that I had hoped I would never receive ever since my son Dalan joined the Army National Guard July 19, 2010. Hearing my son’s voice on the other end of the phone telling me he was in the hospital was one of the most devastatingly emotional experiences of my life.
My heart lodged in my throat but somehow I was able to ask him what transpired and determine where he was and assure him that his father and I were on our way and that we loved him.
Within twenty-five minutes of that dreaded call, my husband and I were on the turnpike heading toward the VCU Medical Center of Richmond Virginia where my son had been flown by Helicopter from Fort Picket Virginia after a Mortar accident had amputated his right index and middle fingers.
During our six hour and forty-five minute drive our son underwent a three hour operation to sew up what was left of his two fingers and thankfully save his ring and pinky fingers, however, we weren’t privy to that information until we actually arrived at the hospital at one forty-five in the morning.
Seeing my son lying in a hospital bed hooked up to hoses and machines, with his right hand bandaged like a club, took the breath from my lungs. I reminded myself that I’m an Army Strong Mom and pulled myself together and went to him. Kissing the face that I’ve loved for nineteen years, I asked him if he was okay, and in his normal calm manner, he assured me he was. That early Saturday morning, my heart broke into a thousand pieces.
My boy had been dismembered but wouldn’t admit he was frightened, hurting or even angry. He was a Warrior through and through and would hold all those emotions inside and deal with them on his own terms. Even as a small boy, that’s what he had always done, and now as a young man, I didn’t expect anything less, although I wanted to take away his pain and anxiety and return the body parts he had lost. I would’ve traded places with him in an instant if I could. He was my baby, my first born and seeing him suffering was killing me.
We spent almost three days in that hospital arriving home at eleven o’clock Monday night. Our youngest son Austin, Dalan’s girlfriend Lindsey and, of course, my dad, were waiting for us when we got home. It was a bittersweet homecoming. We were relieved to be home but knew that the upcoming days, weeks and maybe even months were going to be difficult. We were now embarking on an unknown path.
Our son, the Warrior, hadn’t uttered an angry or even bitter word. He only said he was NOT quitting the Army. He was determined to stay in and said he might change his MOS to Helicopter pilot, because a desk job would kill him. I won’t pretend to understand the mind of a Warrior; I can only support and love him for his pride and dedication. The men and women of our Military are true heroes and Dalan is mine.
I thank each and every one of you who have kept Dalan and my family in your thoughts and prayers. I have always been on the giving end of assistance but now find myself on the receiving end. I must have done something really wonderful in my life to be the recipient of such an outpouring of support and I am truly humbled.
I believe that after almost three weeks of neglecting my writing I can now post on my blog and update on Dalan’s progress and maybe even submit a few upbeat posts. I, like Dalan, must get on with life. This tragedy has changed us all but we can’t allow it to beat us.