Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends

This isn’t really a post.  It feels more like a dirge.  I’ve been organizing photographs recently – got ’em all in the cloud, ya know – and I came across some that my spouse had taken on the last trip he made to DC with Rolling Thunder.   The photo of Arlington pulls my feet out from under me.  Note how the stones line up so smartly, the grass is as trim as a boot camp haircut and the quiet is deafening.

A few years prior our son made a trip to Afghanistan and then another to Iraq, courtesy of the U. S. Army.  It’s been ten years since he came back to us and I still find myself looking at his face wondering who is this man wearing my son’s dog tags, carrying his wallet, thinking he can fool this old woman.  Sure, he looks familiar, but I don’t know him.  The joy is gone from his voice, his smile is strained, dark circles always under his eyes.

His eyes – I look into those green eyes – within them the most amazing color of orange around his pupils, and I can’t describe the pain that cuts through me, takes my breath away.  It’s his pain I see in those beautiful eyes as they gaze back into mine.  Pain because he left others behind to continue the battle while he came home.  Pain because he saw body bags take friends away after IEDs ripped through their bodies.  Pain because of guilt he suffers from taking the lives of the sons of other women.

I see his pain and I feel a red-hot rage at politicians who move our kids into harm’s way for the sake of an agenda, at a military machine that chews them up and spits them out like so much kindling, at myself because I raised him to follow his heart, to live his dream and he did.  It’s a rage so powerful I don’t know how it’s contained in my body.  I shouldn’t be able to bear this kind of anger without bursting into flames.

You see, I raised a different child.  The child I carried in my body, nursed and cosseted, grew into a laughing young man with a zest for life.  He never walked when he could run.  He sang while he did chores around the house.  He whistled.  That’s the boy the Army got from me.  Don’t misunderstand.  I love the man he is now.  He’s a good man, strong and hard-working.  He loves his family and I’m so blessed to have him in my life.  I’m so grateful, so thankful to God that he came back alive.  But he’s not the same boy.

Anyway, I was telling you about the picture of Arlington – the header.  Well, our son made that trip to DC with his dad, both of them on Harleys with a group of friends.  It’s an annual trip, a demonstration, in support of POWs and MIAs (look it up if you’re not familiar with the terms), letting our politicians know that we haven’t forgotten them and we’re watching.  Our POWs and MIAs deserve to come home, to be buried in the country they died for.  It’s a cause that’s dear to my heart.  That’s the kicker.  You see the irony, right?  In so many ways our boy is MIA and I can’t stop looking for him. 

3 responses to “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends”

  1. Hi!
    Sorry it took so long for me to get back here. I had trouble finding you on my computer.
    I followed your blog to prove to you you didn’t “drive me away”. It did not ask me to put in my Email, but you don’t seem to be in my reader either.
    I am looking to expand my readership, so if you are interested in blogging tips consider following me back.
    As far as our dialogue goes: I agree with all you’ve written. Despite your “rant” or whatever you called it, I feel I am more against war than you. Being a military family, I understand your patriotism. I am a patriotic American. I love my president, but I am not in favor of war. I did not enjoy the movie.
    Please write me anytime you feel a need to “rant”. I am a mother too. I have three daughters. However, I can’t begin to understand your loss of your son’s spirit. I love these connections that blogging brings. Write me anytime.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. That was beautiful. Did you see the movie American Sniper? I am curious to know what you thought of it.
    Thank you for your visit to my site yesterday.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, my, Janice. I can’t begin to understand the mystery of God’s plan. Trust me, I don’t believe Kyle’s death was God’s will, but I know there’s a plan in place to use it to our benefit. I wouldn’t be able to bear it otherwise.

      Hard to imagine, isn’t it? The good that Kyle was trying to accomplish, his attempt to overcome the demons that plagued him, shut down by one of the people he cared so much about, someone he considered a brother because of shared experiences.

      The circumstances surrounding his death are tragic enough. The knowledge that the military sent young men back to Afghanistan and Iraq time after time, to live and work in a pressure cooker of violence, without any consideration for their mental health, or their assimilation into society upon their return is unconsciounable.

      I’m a military wife. I know this is a volunteer force but that should not be a green light to use our service members til there’s nothing left. I’m sure you weren’t looking for a rant when you asked your question, but this is sort of a therapy for me. Families of service members with PTSD tend to develop what’s considered secondary PTSD from dealing with the trauma that follows their loved one home.

      Good grief, your question was what did I think of the movie. I thought it was done with exceptionally good taste and sensitivity considering the subject matter. It struck me as a very realistic portrayal from both Kyle’s perspective and his wife’s. My hope is that people would see the movie and realize there’s more to absorb than heroism, adventure, or glory associated with it.

      So, will you ever stop by my blog again or have I driven you away?

      Thanks for your interest and kind remarks.


      Liked by 1 person

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