It’s Memorial Day, again.
Honestly, as I get older sometimes things become rote. Here we go again, another Easter, it’s time for Halloween again. As we move into summer, it’s another long weekend of flags, boats heading to the lake, and the smell of coals burning.
More often than not, when I get in these modes, slip into going through the motions, something in the universe snaps me out of it. I’m fortunate that way. Life pokes me and asks me to pay attention. I notice, and I listen.
We dropped our son off at the airport today. He is heading to Europe. Backpack and rail pass in hand, I stood back and watched him check his bag. He’s eighteen, fresh out of high school, full of life and ready for adventure.
While I was waiting, I noticed another young man, not much older than my son, in fatigues. His hair cut close to his scalp, army green backpack slung over his shoulder, as his parents helped him gather his boarding documents.
Two young men.
One going on vacation and the other heading off to serve his country. Strange that his mother and I would find ourselves at the airport at the same time. Not strange really, more like a poke. Pay attention, Tracy. It’s not just Memorial Day, again.
His mother kissed him. I kissed my son too.
She’s proud, worried. Me too.
And yet her worry is different. I can’t fathom it. I’m nervous my son won’t make the right train, or that he’ll lose his passport. Something could happen to his plane, he could get hurt, but her son could be shot at, taken, killed.
She knows her son is going into harms way. He knows it too. There’s a different air to him, he’s beyond his years already.
In one instant, one wrong turn, she could find herself planning a funeral. I know I could too, there are no guarantees when we let our children go, but again, it’s different.
This Memorial Day, the universe showed me a mother.
That one mother reminded me of the millions of mothers that have lost their babies to war. The women that have smiled in black and white, polaroid and digital pictures. The ones that, through tears, have looked up at their brave children, helped them get where they needed to go, kissed their cheeks and then lost them, laid them to rest.
It’s unimaginable. Devastating on an individual level, and as a nation.
I was reminded today, this Memorial Day, that life, young life filled with promise especially, is such a precious commodity in all countries. It is our sunshine, our hope. The reflection on the loss of it should never be rote and should always be a time for pause, attention.
For all the men and women that have served this country and died for it’s causes and missions, thank you for your service. May you and your mothers, your families, find peace. For the men and women currently in harm’s way, God’s Speed and Be Safe.
My thoughts from the laundry room. Get Some Rest.