Wednesday, August 8, 2012

The Day That Tested Our Strength

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.



  1. Scary as hell but I'm happy that it wasn't any worse. What a brave young man.

  2. Pamela, I haven't been on the internet much lately, this is the most horrifying blog I have ever read. As a Mom, I can't even begin to understand how you got through that day. I am praying that Dalan and You and the whole family is recovering from this and will continue on the road to recovery, both physical and emotional.
    All of my best

  3. Leslie, you have no idea of how grateful I am that it wasn't worse! When I see Dalan's hand and how it was! For as tragic as it is, it could've been worse, I know that and I'm grateful every day that I still have my boy. And he is brave. I'm so proud of him.

  4. Mo, I know what it's like to not be on the internet and then you go browsing and you read something and you're like WTH!! I totally understand!

    Thank you for stopping by and letting me know you'll be praying for my son and family. I appreciate that. Dalan's road is long and he needs all the prayers and positive energy and vibes he can get!

    I hope you are doing well, Mo. I haven't had a chance to do my "normal" browsing and reading, either, so I don't know how YOU have been faring!

  5. I get your posts right on my main email page so how I missed this one I'll never know. The last one I read was when you doggie passed away. If the grim reaper was to take someone I'm glad it was not your son. It seems to me like he was just that close to being another statistic of this mess our country is in. I can't imagine how you must have felt when your son called. I would have thought that they would have had to let you know when he was hurt instead of waiting until he could call you. What they think of as a number on a dog tag we think of as our most precious child. I know it must be awful to know he lost his fingers but thank God it was not worse. I just can't imagine what it's like to have that knock at your door. I'm sorry I didn't catch this quicker but now that I know I'll be praying for his complete recovery and rehabilitation. Growing up on a farm I'm sort of used to knowing people with missing digits they've lost in farming accidents. Since he is so young he'll bounce back quickly and learn to overcome what to us old folks would be a tremendous handicap. I actually went to school with a guy who lost some fingers when a piece of wire caught his hand and pulled it into a machine. I can't remember exactly which ones he lost but he could do what ever he wanted and I can't remember even thinking he was handicapped. One strong memory was of this nasty ole girl he was dating laughing and saying that he could still pinch her titty. I was a freshman at the time and was so embarrassed and shocked that she would say such a thing. Happy to report she was short lived in his life and he married a very nice girl. LOL However, it does indicate that this is not such a hopeless thing. My kids had a friend who was a very talanted drummer in a band who blew his entire hand off playing with dynamite on the fourth of July. That really was so tragic and he became an alcoholic bum. While praying for Dalon's recovery I'm also going to be thanking God that it was not worse and he has the chance to recover. I'm also praying for you. When it rains it pours or so it seems. I'm pretty sure we can tell God that he has your full attention. I live very near an Army post here in Kansas, Ft Riley. We carry the full info on all those who have lost their lives in the Middle East and it seems like it's almost a daily thing. One of the boys who was shot had married a local girl and he was finally here in Topeka at our VA hospital. She has a blog with daily updates about his condition and everyone was praying for his recovery. He was paralyzed from the neck wound but was making some progress until he caught MERSA and it took his life. I cried for days over it and can't imagine what his family went through. The wife is still posting and it's very sad. She is now involved with a group to support the family members with a wounded warrior to make sure they get the best care possible. I've actually been pretty impressed with the way his family has been cared for and I'd expect you will be treated the same. Please keep us posted on how Dalon is doing and I'll keep praying.

  6. Gayla, I do keep telling myself that it could have been worse. But when my son is hurting, I hurt for him and when I can't make "it" better, I get angry. Not in front of him. I am strong for him. I just feel like so much is out of my control right now and I'm the type of person who needs things in my control. I suppose I need to read the Serenity Prayer some more.

    I do believe Dalan will heal. It's going to take time. So keep those prayers coming.

    Thank you.


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