When I read the open call for the "worst Valentine's Day ever". I only had to think a few seconds, and then it all came tumbling back. I thought back one year ago.
My son had just deployed to Afghanistan and I had some troubling calls about a week before. He was headed out for a mission and he wouldn't be in contact with us for quite a while.
All during the weekend before Valentine's Day I had some really nagging, bad feelings. I was nervous and emotional and couldn't shake the feeling that something was very wrong.
I had tried to deliver a valentine to my grandson at my daughter's house after I had called and set up a time to come by. They weren't home and when I tried to call, no answer. I left her a message and waited around before heading back the fifteen miles to my home.
When I was on my way, nearly home, my daughter returned my call. She had taken my grandson to a play gym and wouldn't be home for another hour. I told her the valentine was on the step. I hung up the phone, pulled the car over and wept. I cried until I couldn't cry anymore and then drove home.
When I got home to an empty house, I cried some more. In fact, I cried the rest of the weekend. I thought the feelings were those of rejection from my daughter, but that was only part of it.
My son's girlfriend had just returned from Marine bootcamp herself and we had plans to meet for lunch the day after Valentine's. As we were sitting and eating our lunch, a news report came up on one of the TV's. I couldn't hear it, but I read the caption.
It was talking about the Marines in Afghanistan in something called the "Marjah push". I went limp and pale and my son's girlfriend was staring at me. I pulled myself together and told her what I had seen. We both went on with our afternoon plans as if nothing was really wrong.
We shopped and went to a movie and made the best of the afternoon, but we both knew that he was somehow involved in that battle.
Later that night as I began my quest for information, I found an article on-line by a journalist from the New York Times that was embedded with the Marines in this mission. He named the unit he was with, yes it was my son's unit.
My husband had long since gone to bed, but when I cried out, he quickly ran into where I was clutching the paper I had printed. The article talked about them getting ready and going in to this battle.
In the days that followed, I found pictures and was glued to the TV and my computer for any scrap of information I could find.
I'm not sure how long it was before we got word from my son. I think it was a few weeks, it felt like years. He told me his buddy was killed and would I please pray for his wife and baby? That was it, no more, no less. He had survived. His only words of wisdom for me were, "No news is good news". Not comforting for a mother who knew that things were not as they should be.
Sometimes I wish I didn't have this gift. I know it's not really uncommon for a mother to "know" when things aren't right with their children, but it sure makes for an emotional rollercoaster of a life.
Happy Valentines? You bet, we survived a war, now we can make it through the next big trial.