That being said, however, let me offer some perspective about being a mom whose child was sent off to fight a needless war halfway around the world. My son is still alive and has not been injured - so I imagine that my experience is only a fraction of that which Cindy endures daily, so take these examples and multiply accordingly...
Every single time that my doorbell rings, my first thought is, "Is that someone calling to tell me that something happened to David?"
When a news report says, "American soldier killed, identification delayed pending family notification," anxiety strikes until I know my child is safe...and then I feel guilt because someone else's child was not, and often cry.
Every day, when my mind is not running on overdrive, my thoughts always go to, "How is David? Is he safe? How is his soul faring, given the things that he must see and do?"
As I unpack boxes to decorate for the holidays, I stumble across ornaments that were David's favorites or that he made - and I have to stop for a crying break. I'm crying just writing this, by the way.
Another crying fit bgeins when I go to the shelve where I keep my cookbooks, I see the "Christmas Cookbook" that David's kindergarten class made. His entry was for "Christmas cookies." His recipe reads:
I can be driving in my car and a song will come on that reminds me of David. I cry.
I walk past his bedroom several times a day and catch fleeting glimpses of "Mr. Bear," the nappy teddy bear that we bought him while I war pregnant, that we diapered in parenting classes at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, that slept in his crib and his bed for years, that now sits atop his former bed while. I cry and pray that Mr. Bear will never have to make a return visit to Walter Reed to visit an injured David.
As I prepare for a large family meal today, I can already feel the tension rising, as I consider having to "break bread" with members of my husband's family who still say, "George Bush is a good Christian man. It's better to fight the terrorists there than here. You should be proud of David and support what he is doing. It's people like you that are putting our soldiers in danger." Said members of the family of course have never served in the military nor sent their own children into the military...with the exception of my father-in-law, who almost choked at the dinner table two years ago when I demanded that he tell me a single thing in Iraq that he was willing to have my son/his grandson killed for. NOTHING is the same anymore in our family.
I could go on and on about how pervasive it is to be a military family member, especially a mom, during a time of war - it literally seeps into every facet your life. I fight every day to help prevent my son and other people's loved ones from suffering the same fate as Casey Sheehan - so does Cindy, and in a much larger way.
Our fight is one that is fought through our tears. Words often fail us as we try to explain things to people. My life and Cindy's intersected on a fateful night in April 2004 in Sadr City, where our two sons, fresh from Ft. Hood, fought their first major battle and valiantly tried to save their buddies. Eight soldiers died that night. Casey was one of them. I will never forget the sound of David's voice when he called me that night, telling me about how he held pieces of his friend's arm together. I cried for hours and never felt so completely helpless in all of my mife. What do you say to your shell-shocked child when he calls to tell you these things?
I once asked Cindy, "I never know what to say to you or other Gold Star parents. I feel guilty that my son survived (so far) and yours didn't. There are just no words that seem adequate." Cindy's response: "You don't have to say anything. Just give us a hug."