A couple of things came together simultaneously for me just recently. I ran across these pretty gruesome x-ray pictures of Sgt. Dan Powers, who had been savagely attacked by a teenage Iraqi insurgent, having a 9-inch knife plunged into his skull. At first he thought he had been punched in the head. Amazingly, after being airlifted to Walter Reed Medical Hospital and after a grueling rehabilitation, where he needed to learn how to walk again, Sgt. Powers regained his physical abilities. He went on to rejoin his fellow paratroopers out of Fort Bragg, NC and boarded a plane, headed for his next assignment--in Afghanistan.
Rejoin his fellow paratroopers? Are you kidding? What must his family have been thinking as he went back out? He just narrowly escaped with his life in tow and now he's going out again to risk it? I can only shake my head in disbelief....did the military really need him that badly? Or did he choose to go back on his own? I don't know the whole story. If anyone does, I'd love an update. Does he have a firm conviction of what he is fighting for, or is he just in it for the paycheck (such as it is)? Does he like the excitement or is he doing it for the camaraderie of it all? These things are a mystery to me and I can't help but be deeply touched that these men can go through this kind of duress and go back without being physically hog-tied. They go back willingly and bravely. Did he have a wife or a sweetheart? What was she thinking as he left her yet again.
I found this poem a couple days ago and I think it is appropriate for this scenario, though not in all aspects.
Not To Keep
They sent him back to her. The letter came
Saying... And she could have him. And before
She could be sure there was no hidden ill
Under the formal writing, he was in her sight,
Living. They gave him back to her alive-
How else? They are not known to send the dead-
And not disfigured visibly. His face?
His hands? She had to look, and ask,
"What was it, dear?" And she had given all
And still she had all-they had-they the lucky!
Wasn't she glad now? Everything seemed won,
And all the rest for them permissible ease.
She had to ask, "What was it, dear?"
Yet not enough. A bullet through and through,
High in the breast. Nothing but what good care
And medicine and rest, and you a week,
Can cure me of to go again." The same
Grim giving to do over for them both.
She dared no more than ask him with her eyes
How was it with him for a second trial.
And with his eyes he asked her not to ask.
They had given him back to her, but not to keep.___________________________________
And so, as they send their sons, husbands, fathers, brothers out once, twice, maybe for the last time, do they have a sufficient reason to believe that this was what was meant to be? Can they be at peace with themselves and with God. I think some can, and some definitely can't. And thus comes the unbearable sadness and despair and possibly bitterness that the loss of that loved one brings.
I feel grateful to have the belief and knowledge that when I send a loved one away, as I have done and I will do again, more than once more, I know that it won't be the last time I'll ever see them. In fact, I have quite a bright hope that not only will I see loved ones again after I "send them away" or they are "sent away", but that I will have the chance to associate with them on a bright and happy level someday and somewhere. I'm not exactly sure of all the details, but I know I will see them again. Will I be sad? Will I miss them? Of course! But my belief may just help to carry me through those dark days of missing whoever I may have to send away for a little while! But in the end, I will keep!