When it comes right down to it the only One we can truly put our faith in is God. People let us down; we let people down. Life goes on. But God is always there to pick up the pieces, to console, to strengthen, to love us. Last week Americans celebrated Veteran’s Day. Although I do not have a son in the services, I do have someone whom I consider an honorary son – a friend to one of my boys since both were in third grade.
This Marine arrived in Afghanistan last week. I hope the following column honors him, his own mother, all who serve in the armed forces, and those they leave behind at home. I commend their honor, courage and commitment.
Infinite, Always Faithful, Love
You’re pregnant. You’re ecstatic. You call everyone you know. No one in the history of the world has ever had more urgent news.
You wait nine long months. Your baby boy arrives home and your infinite love overtakes him. No one in the history of the world has ever had a more beautiful baby boy.
He is yours, all yours. Oh sure, you must pretend to share him with the rest of the family, but in your core of cores you know he is all yours. You care for his every need. You are his entire world. What did you ever do to deserve such a love? You can’t recall, but you gratefully accept the gift. And you nurture the son.
From midnight feedings and bedtime stories to all that’s in between, you care for your son. You protect him. You shelter him from harm. You watch with astonishment as he grows and takes his first steps.
Years pass, memories etch. Your little boy is no longer a baby; he must go to that place called school with those children called friends. And you must do the grownup thing and let him go. You watch with apprehension as he boards the school bus.
As every season unfolds, your little boy unearths more of the world. He discovers basketball. No one in the history of the world has ever steered the ball down the court better. You watch with excitement as he swishes his first three-pointer.
And then come the girls. Ups and downs and turnarounds lead his heart to places where you can no longer protect him. You want to protect him, to keep him from harm, but now you must only advise, knowing he must do these things on his own. You watch with helplessness as his heart breaks; you send up thanks when his heart mends.
You consider yourself most lucky as you observe the circle of friends he has chosen. You feel the tug on your heartstring stretching a bit more as he embarks further away from you, but you trust his friends and you trust him. So it’s OK.
High school years fly by. You sit on bleachers in high school gyms, football stadiums, baseball diamonds and around quarter mile tracks. You hold your breath, you cheer, you live and die in the seconds it takes for him to catch that pass or to score that 1000th point. You are his biggest fan. No one in the history of the world is as special as your son.
You watch with pride as your boy-turned-man walks across the stage to accept his diploma. You step aside as he drives off to college. You understand when his choice detours and he returns home because no one in the history of the world has ever loved a son more faithfully.
And then he decides to become a Marine. A Marine. Your mind has a difficult time surrendering to this. Your baby, your son, turned Marine? It was one thing when he played soldier, but to be a Marine?
Ups and downs and turnarounds lead him to places where you can no longer protect him. You want to protect him, to keep him from harm, but now you must only watch knowing he must do these things on his own. He must go to that place called Afghanistan with those friends called Marines. And you must do the grownup thing and let him go. You watch with apprehension as he boards the plane.
Before you know it, the heartstring stretches across an ocean. You eagerly anticipate your Marine’s phone calls, letters and e-mails, for you know that beneath those dog tags beats the same heart of the baby you carried beneath your heart for nine months – the best heart in the history of the world.
You must step back. You have protected him and sheltered him from harm for as long as you could. It’s your son’s turn now to protect and to shelter a nation. It’s your turn to wait again…and to pray…until the day your baby boy arrives home and his infinite love overtakes you.
Semper Fi! God bless our troops.
Copyright 2009 Maureen Locher