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  • When my son was little, we used to pray this prayer each night: “Dear God, thank you for the most beautiful boy in the entire wide world. Keep him safe and always bring him safely home to me. Please help him to have a good night’s sleep and please no bad dreams — no bad dreams about ghosts, monsters, bad guys, fire or aliens.”

    I didn’t know that I should also be including the Taliban, IED’s or insurgents or that I might one day fear nightmares of my own.

    My son is in Afghanistan now. Robin, the Marine Family Readiness Coordinator called us to say that his unit had arrived safely. Robin’s job is to work with the families of Marines — all the way from getting ready to deploy through the entire deployment. My husband met her personally during a Marine Family Readiness seminar held in San Diego last November. I was not able to attend but I read the paperwork he brought back including the piece titled something like ”How to Tell If Your Marine is Suffering Severe Stress.” It was the first time I cried since hearing of my son’s deployment.

    A couple of days later, I was taking a nap and the doorbell rang. I think it was probably just a neighbor boy wanting to make a little extra money shoveling snow but it occurred to me that once my son arrives in Afghanistan that I would not be answering the doorbell while he is deployed. I know that opening the door to see a Marine in dress blues will only mean one thing.

    Before we got the call from Robin, our son actually called us himself during a layover from a Starbucks in Tajikistan. I knew there were McDonalds all the world but hadn’t thought about Starbucks. My husband said, “Imagine how strong the coffee is at a Starbucks in Tajikistan!”

    My son said it was cold and he was tired.

    What I know today is that he has safely arrived in Afghanistan. While he was home at Christmas, I happened upon a wondeful documentary called “The Way We Get By” - a deeply moving film about troop greeters - a group of senior citizens who gather daily at a small airport in Bangor, Maine to thank American soldiers and Marines departing and returning from Iraq. It made me cry to know these people were there to say both hello and goodbye to our troops no matter the hour of day or night. They even have a telephone tree to call each other to say what time the next flight is due. But the film is about so much more — these senior citizens do this not only for the troops but for themselve as a way to combat aging, loneliness, war and mortality.

    Thus this journey in Afghanistan begins. Each day through is one day closer to coming home again. And, I can’t wait to ask my son about his trip through that airport in Bangor!

    Note: This was written in February, 2011. My son is safely home and the military no longer routes troops through Bangor, Maine.
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