NebraskaHerb
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Thursday, February 08, 2007

Mr. Mister and His New Best Friend, Online Chaplain

Here is the little guy with the Cookie Monster I got him for Christmas. He likes to try to feed him cookies, and makes a funny sound as he can't say cookie just yet.


Looking sporty at Grandmas house. It looks cold there back home. I don't miss the winter too much, believe it or not. He looks to me like he is getting ready to go for a run.


Try number 2. I had just finished what I thought was a pretty good post and went to post it and it went somewhere into the internet wasteland. I am ready to put a few .223 rounds into this computer, but then I would have give myself an Article 15 and that would get confusing. So, I'm going to try again although I'm sure the second pass won't be quite as good. Sorry. Oh and the spell checker isn't working so I'm sure there are some typos in here as well. You can request a refund if it really bothers you.

Follow this link to find an outstanding blog post from a chaplain in another Battalion within our Brigade. I actually spent a little bit of time with him at Camp Shelby as we were fellow late mobbers and went through the makeup land navigation class together (you can't spell lost with LT by the way). The post is titled One Day Closer to Someday and when I read it, it pretty much describes how I've been feeling of late.

A strange thing happens to a soldier when they have been deployed for as long as we have been. Somewhere along the path this becomes the primary reality. It’ a scary thing and I have a better understanding of soldier atrocities, where soldiers have lost there humanity. I can no longer imagine what it is like to come home after a long day of work. I can no longer imagine what it will be like to sit and watch TV in the evening with my kids, or go for a Sunday drive, or sit down for a meal with my family. Without that imagination I have come up with this simple word of hope, “I am one day closer to someday.”

I don't know when I've felt this way in the past, but 14 months away from home, and my new reality is my daily routine here. Get up, go to work, go to the gym, go for a run, go to dinner, back to the office, call the wife, go to bed. Same uniform, same people, same office, etc. I can't remember when it happened, but I honestly can't grasp what it is like to not be in Iraq. I am no longer a husband-father-son-brother-employee. Those roles have been replaced by soldier-sergeant-legal guy-buddy.

What is odd is that there are days that the only thing real to me is my routine, and everything else is like a distant memory that I reach for but can't quite grasp. My son thinks that I live inside of either the phone, the video camera, or the computer, whichever happens to be in front of him at the time. How could he think otherwise? We've spent 19 of the last 375 days together, and I've now been gone longer then the time I spent with him. And I'm one of the fortunate ones, some left within a month or two of their child being born or even left with a pregnant spouse. I at least had 8 solid months to start building a relationship. Others have children that are old enough to know they are gone, and have to answer the question of "Daddy, when are you coming home?"

Driving a car to work, stopping to get groceries on the way home, mowing the lawn, and doing the dishes are now foreign concepts to me. Although Rik would argue that doing the dishes was a foreign concept before I left, but don't you believe her. I distinctly remember doing them at least twice. Maybe three times. Again, I am one of the lucky ones. I will most likely come home essentially the same person I was before I left, although a few pounds lighter and in far better shape. I've been to a combat zone but I haven't been to war. Soldiers that I serve with will live the rest of the lives with some of the things they've seen and done. Some will come home without all of the parts they came with and others won't come home at all. The worst case of PTSD I'll have is the horrors of Chief yelling over the plywood walls for Kerch and Johnson at least 10 times a day.

The Online Chaplain ends with:
The 34th ID is one day closer to going home. So are we all. The bible says, we are one day closer to streets of gold. We are one day closer to…no more sorrow, no more pain, no more hardship of any kind. Although this life becomes our primary reality, there is another. Although this life’s hardships absorb me and capture me there are other truths. I’m not sure what heaven looks like, but I am sure it will be great. So, hang on tight. Don't let the pain win. You can do it. You will not always feel the way you do today. Remember, “You are one day closer to someday.”

I do know this, today is one day closer to coming home, whatever that day may be. And regardless of the things I miss about home, I still know that God has a plan for my life whether I understand it or not. He is strong enough to get us through our troubled times. Perhaps the most encouraging thought for me is that when I was home in September for leave, it took all of about 2 steps off the tarmac to forget about Iraq, the Army, and remember what it is like to be a husband-father-son-brother and a person with a first name. As soon as I saw my wife and son for the first time, I knew that was exactly where I was meant to me and what I was meant to do: to be the best husband to my wife and the best father to my son that I can be. I trust that it will be the same this summer, and that a year from now I'll be older but wiser, with a few good stories, and the knowledge that I served the cause of freedom and defended our great country.

23 comments:

SJ said...

I found your blog through a response you gave me on the coolrunning forum about jogging strollers. (My husband is in Afghanistan, just beginning his 14-16 months).

I've been back to visit your blog many times since then and I just wanted to say that you are a gifted writer. I don't read too many blogs by people I don't know, buy yours calls me back. I really enjoyed today's entry.

Anonymous said...

Babe, you have always been the best husband and father. Your post reminded me of a verse I'm trying to memorize...

2 Cor. 4:17 "For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all."

I love you
Erika

Wymz said...

cav

Wymz said...

You made some good points. When you reach the point where you can't visualize your spouse's face anymore just automatically it is kind of scary. After about a month and a half I reach that point. It's happened a couple times before. My wife is a voice and a letter now. This is one reality and home is another world. But they still interact sometimes. Your values are the same but the environment is totally different.

Anonymous said...

You sound tired. And who can blame you? Don't let this extension get the better of you. I know you have been stripped of almost everything you had to look forward to before, and it feels as though it's gone. But it's not.

I hear the same emptiness in my sons voice, phone calls, e-mails, blogs, etc. It's been a long deployment and longer than expected. For a handful of you, this deployment will be 2 months shy of 2 YEARS of your life. That is a very long time to be separated from your family and loved ones. As much as we think we have made sacrifices, there's NOTHING even comparable to the sacrifices you men have made. You all have handled it well and better than one can expect given the situation.

The news of the extension came as a huge letdown. Sometimes we think we're in control and when we find out we're not, it's a huge disappointment. Unfortunately, I think we're all guilty of thinking we're in control.

When I feel overwhelmed with a variety of emotions, I give them to God. I realize my strength comes from the crosses He has given me to carry. I am a control freak and am always trying to be in control of everything. When I get caught up in it and realize what I am doing, I let go and give it back. And I feel so relieved that I can give all of those worries and burdens to Him. God WILL get us through this.

YOU are a Gift to a lot of people. How lucky your beautiful wife, Erika, and son, Ben, are!

God Bless,

Ma Beans.

Anonymous said...

I am happy to report that my tear ducts are still working. I am also happy to report that in my heart I know that your and Rik's strength is phenomenal and all prayers will be answered. I'm trying to teach Benjamin to say "Dada, take me to the park, please." You can thank me later for that..... :) Grandma A

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the picture of your son. What a handsome little guy. Looks like he's getting ready to run!
Have a Happy Valentine's Day! Many blizzards on the East Coast today. We like reading the Online Chaplain's blogs, too, and hope we can visit his church in New London, MN, when he gets back home.
God bless.
Chaplain Todd's Uncle's girlfriend

Winter said...

Howdy. I've visited your blog a few times through Nic's Place. I'm the wife of a National Guardsman who is currently serving on the same base as you. BTW, he's an Iowa Stater. <};^)

I wanted to let you know I enjoy stopping by and reading your posts. My hubby had told me there was a NG unit extended, I had no idea he was talking about yours. If you happen to hear about or run into SPC. Peck that's my guy. He's with the 1744th TC.

Take care and I'll stop by some time soon.

Brian said...

Sack,
Even though written with a heavy heart and for a 2nd time, what a well written important message. I can only imagine the emotions that you guys have been going through over there. Luckily you have your incredible faith, family, friends and faithful readers who support you to the fullest.
I can only try to grasp the feelings that you have of being away from home by trying to relate my life with it somehow. And on some strange much lesser level I know how you feel.
I left home two & a half years ago and sunk into a society of people whom I thought couldn't possibly be that different from back home. We are all Americans right? I couldn't have been more wrong. I feel as though somedays my search for the the upstanding decent person I have always tried to lived my life to be matters to no one. This area of the north east is truly the taint of our nation. Non-stop busy life styles, lack of responsability, deceit and complete disrepect for the law and this country's morals have nearly brought me to my knees. Often, you almost can't help but start to slowly fall into the everyday grind and wonder if you to have become institutionalized to it. And, often my good friend just like yourself, I just want to go home.
But then somehow after a talk with the man upstaris that put me here, I know that I'm here for a good reason that only he knows. And often I listen to or read over words of the chorus from a song that seems to keep me in line.

"And I hear them saying you'll never change things and no matter what you do its still the same thing. But its not the world that I am changing. I do this so, this world will know, that it will not change me." Garth Brooks

And, I would like to think that staying true to myself then slowly, just maybe I can help change to world in some way.
Anyway, don't let that place change you. You're still the husband-father-son-brother-employee and now you are ALSO soldier-sergeant-legal guy-buddy. And, you will always be all of those even when you get back Sack. All of that may be to much for a lesser man. But not you.

Stay strong, stay safe.
Do whatever it takes to keep a hold of home in your mind.
Prayers are with you.

Your good buddy B.

Anonymous said...

Steve...

You are the biggest inspiration and hero that I can think of right now. As a person who knew you before you left, I feel that you have changed my life a lot since you've been deployed. I can see more than ever why Dan has so much respect for you, and why he considers you his best friend. It seems strange, but you being so far away doing what you're doing has brought me even closer to you and your family, and for that I will always be grateful because you are all so wonderful.

I love how your personality shows through your blog, that is a feat not easily accomplished. I can never get across in writing what I really want to say, but you do it again and again. And when your struggling, you still manage to uplift and ease our stress and shelter us from how difficult it really is. Thank you for your honesty. Thank you for your service. Thank you for your sacrafices. Thank you for your faith. Thank you for your friendship. Thank you for my freedom and safety.

We love you and pray for you everyday!

...Brandee

Anonymous said...

After reading these last entries, I can see that your friends and family think quite highly of you. Glad they stopped in. My boyfriend and I were talking last night about our troops and how difficult it must be for our soldiers who are fathers and mothers. You can be proud of your service, and I know your children will always be proud of you. My boyfriend's father was a war hero. Received two Purple Hearts during World War II. Recently his wife mounted all his metals and put them on display in their home. My father also served in World War II and even though he's in his early 90's, he's still active in the Disabled American Veteran's (DAV) organization and helps to advocate for your rights. I hope you all don't have to use those benefits, but if you do, it is good to be able to get help! You are all heroes to us back home. God bless. Judy, (Chaplain Todd's Uncle's girlfriend)

Sack said...

Thanks everyone for your comments. I really appreciate everyone's support. You guys are the best and make it all worthwhile.

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