A Year Without by Katherine Harris Szerdy

Sending a child to war is one of the hardest things a mother has to live through. Having two children deployed at the same time is unimaginable.  This courageous mother of two deployed soldiers describes what it is like having a daughter deployed in the ongoing poem, A Year Without. Please pray for this family and all the families of deployed troops. God bless our servicemen and women until they are safe in our arms again.

A Year Without by Katherine Harris Szerdy

At the tender age of seven,

you mastered the art of pinning your long blonde hair

into a tight bun for ballet.

Seems like just yesterday.

Eleven years later, you stepped out of your pointe shoes and into Army Boot

Camp, drill sergeants mandating pull-ups rather than pirouhettes. Did you say you ranked “sharpshooter”?

Seems like yesterday you danced for Jesus.

Day after day, a dull ache weighs heavy on my heart,

sometimes tugs violently,

hearing reports of the day’s casualties.

–The drastic decline in water and electric usage and grocery bills

yielding in significant financial savings (LOL!)

won’t even begin to make up for

A year without…

Mom/daughter lunch dates at our favorite Dave’s Cosmic Sub Shop

and Starbucks after-dinner coffee dates

and SOS calls to AAA when the Sebring needs some TLC

and moody monthlies

and fashion shows pirouetting your latest fashion finds

and sweet whispers overheard during midnight calls with “The Boy”

and knowing glances from across the room

and cleaning fests while singing your heart out to iTunes,

spinning in your socks on shiny oak floors,

and sharing the latest shampoo brands

or Sephora make-up tricks

or comparing OPI colors on toes

and the joy of hearing about your most memorable Yours Truly customer of the day–

Tom, the town historian sporting his signature bow tie, always impeccably dressed or

the Reids, Kirk and Dot, the adorable Presbyterian couple

married 59 years, who always leave a 15% tip to the penny,

and who left a message on our answering machine last week to tell us

they would be praying for you

each and every day,

and Dave and Casey, twin brothers, Hudson’s very own Click & Clack.

It’s not getting any easier you know–180 days in…

I miss those late night Grey’s Anatomy and Private Practice marathons

and witnessing you fall in love with Matisse on a trip to the Cleveland Art Museum

so much so that you went out and bought your first set of paints and canvas

and watching you solve Sudoku puzzles faster than it takes me to brush my teeth

and putting together 1000 piece jigsaw puzzles before the dinner dishes are put away

and interpreting last night’s dreams

and enjoying our first experience in a real French restaurant together

and your placating “the Mom” on Mother’s Day by taking me to High Tea

or church on Sunday


do I possibly enjoy a moment of this convenient existence

knowing that my daughter is over there

sacrificing an entire year, 1/23nd of her life,

her senior year at Kent State,

laying her life on the line each and every one of the 365 days

for a cause greater than herself


can I lounge in air conditioning as she struggles to sip

breatheable air through her mask during a sandstorm


can I take a drive in my Buick LaCrosse, windows rolled down,

breeze blowing through my hair,

or enjoying heated leather seats in winter’s cold,

knowing she sits strapped tight in a sling seat in the fuselage of a C130

or hunkered down, transported over hopelessly rocky, mountainous terrain


can I crash on the couch for a luxurious afternoon nap

while she struggles to sleep with shells exploding in the not-too-distance

or to wake up each day to the same routine–work 12 hours, run, chow, sleep, work 12 hours, run, chow, sleep…

in the haze of Afghan heat


can I walk freely down tree-lined streets admiring manicured lawns

without thinking of her trudging under the burden of a 60-pound pack

unable to step outside bounded territory.


do I lunch with a friend at the newest bistro in town

dressed in a lovely lined lavendar linen sheath

knowing a girlfriend lunch for her means

the monotony of mess hall meat and potato cuisine

with boiled lobster and steak as the big treat on Fridays

or ripping open an MRE

with her Battle Buddy, dressed in ACUs a lovely shade of cammie,

while sitting,


in blazing 115 degree heat.


do I take a leisurely shower with spa accessories

without thinking about her feeling lucky to get two minutes

under cold water…and a bar of soap.

We watch the evening news and wonder

What is not being told

because these stories won’t sell advertising dollars

or appease political agendas…

You’ve told us your work saves lives–

I read between the lines that this work is

meaningful for you despite the



setting of the mountains of Afghanistan.

What stories will you have to tell your grandchildren?

My prayer continues–that God shelters you from memories

needing to be buried, and blesses you with sweet dreams

of home and a bright future.

So I keep a visual journal, recording details about meaningful moments and seasons you missed.

Frank, Al, Susie, Joe, Buttercup, and Bob, the mutant Algae-eater, continue to thrive.

I take great pride that I haven’t lost one! 🙂

No, ZeeZee and BeeBee haven’t forgotten you.

Jeremy still stops over to check up on us…we love him for that.

I wonder if you’ve had time to respond to

comments I wrote in Sue Monk Kidd’s mother/daughter memoir,

And wonder what you’ll think about the new living room arrangement

and whether you’ll be surprised that NOTHING has changed in your room

except that I ironed and put away your last load of laundry

and kept your room clean and tucked away a few treasures I thought you might enjoy –

to be discovered when you are home on leave.

Dad wonders if you’ll recognize all the changes he’s made in the house since you left (he kept a list) 🙂

I count the days until you are home on leave

so I can perhaps sleep through the night

I continue to pray each night at 0230

And send up breath prayers throughout the day

And cling to my faith 24/7

until you and your brother and your cousins are back on American soil and

the buses pull back into the Armory

under Vietnam Vet motorcyle escort and

we can cut both yellow ribbons off the oak tree

and you are safe in my arms again.

Check out Katherine’ s blog at http://mamagram.wordpress.com/

2 thoughts on “A Year Without by Katherine Harris Szerdy

  1. Pingback: The Voice of a Mother From 1918 | Love You More Than You Know

  2. Pingback: Join the Voice of Mothers: Pray for Peace | Love You More Than You Know

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