“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.” – Matt 5:4
Without my faith and hope to sustain me, I don’t know how I would get through this deployment. Just as I am starting out my day, sans coffee because we are out and I’m on my way to buy more but taking a few minutes for retail therapy first, I see a missed phone call from our FRG leader. And my mind leaps back to a brief CNN blurb from the day before (not that hardly anyone reported it because we as a nation are weary of this war and it’s heartbreak). I remember how the news of a bombing with fatalities caught my heart in my throat. The 101st Airborne administers that area, and in that moment I had total certainty of two things: that my husband was unharmed, and that some of his comrades weren’t coming home. I hadn’t heard from him in two days but, but I knew in my bones he was fine, so I had a beer and waited. In the back of my mind I was waiting all night for the heads up that they were activating our phone tree to send out a “red line message”, a brief prepared statement notifying the family contact for deployed service members of a casualty in their unit. This is done to put out accurate information and preempt the speculation that tends to run rampant when a certain region is featured in the news as a site of fresh violence, to give family members the peace that their loved one is fine.
It is the strangest sensation to hear a red line message, because even as your body feels buoyant with relief that your husband is safe, your heart is plummeting for another family who instead of a 20 second phone call, had an SUV roll up with a casualty assistance team who will knock on their door and forever alter their lives. Your emotions are being pulled in two directions so hard your whole being might tear if you don’t take a deep breath. It is stranger still on the heels of that experience to turn around and deliver that to others. But that is what we do, because our husbands are not the only ones who answer when duty calls. It’s a sacred duty, to serve our Army family, to support each other in a life that can really knock the wind out of you.
Standing in Bed Bath & Beyond trying to ignore my throbbing caffeine withdrawal headache in the hopes of scoring a killer deal on the sheets that match our comforter, I know what the message will be when I call back, and I will turn around and call my own list of people. After battling construction to rush back home and plug in my phone and pull up my e-mail, I take a deep breath and say a quick prayer for serenity and begin my call list, repeating the same 95 words calmly and clearly as my heart aches and my headache fades into the background.
Just as I hang up from my last call and contemplate going back to the store for coffee, my new favorite sound in the world, the sound of an incoming Skype call rings from my computer–it’s my husband who had had to wait to call until the communications “blackout” over there was lifted. The mood is sober at first, but then we get talking for a fantastically long amount of time and talk about everything. And as I hang up, the scripture a friend had shared to acknowledge the loss sprang to mind.
In my mourning for the unknown families, I was blessed by a call from 7000 miles away that brought comfort and stability back. Because I know that God is still God and God is still Good, even when we face tragedy and want to scream and tear things and demand answers and crawl under the covers and never come out. It’s a subject I could write a lot longer on, but suffice it to say, no matter what we face in life, God is with us. I see how even in my microcosm of grief His promises are fulfilled, I know that He will touch all the people whose lives are affected by loss. Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.