We were just getting ready to leave for parents’ weekend in Chicago and John was leaving the next day for his Navy assignment in Guam.
“Thank God you’re not going to Iraq”, I said.
John replied, “Well Mom, actually I am”.
Hitting me with a bat couldn’t have been more of a shock. I went out in the garage and cried.
You can’t imagine the helpless feeling of existing in Fairview Park with your son half way around the world and every second not knowing where he is. John was a Seabee, which gave some comfort…once he was there; he wasn’t supposed to be moved until it was time to return home. We received calls that he was chosen to be moved several times, once on Christmas Eve and again on New Years Eve.
I lived those months praying, for all of them. When John didn’t call on his regular day, it meant someone had died. Understandably, the military wanted to notify the family before word of mouth reached them. I felt such pain thinking of those doorbells ringing forever changing the lives of a certain family.
John is Catholic and was chosen to carry the Blessed Sacrament over in Iraq. Carrying Our Lord, what a privilege. It gave me such comfort. John’s group was mortared many times and he saw miracles. One time as a mortar ripped through a tent with four sailors inside, destroying the tent, the sailors were all unharmed—the mortar never touching any of them.
Every holiday for John that year was spent in Iraq. Our holiday joy was that phone call we received from him on each occasion. The day he came home we were able to go to the gate to meet him. We all held small American flags and John’s sibs stood away from us, as they knew we’d cry.
John is now in the Navy reserves. He talks very little of his experiences in Iraq. He’s quieter than he was. I’ll never stop praying for those troops still there and the greatest day will be when they all come home.
Fairview Park, Ohio