The invisible cloak I wear
by Jo Hatcher
My son is in a war zone.
Yesterday he called but I missed it. I hadn’t heard his voice in almost four months, and he called and I was in some silly store. Had my phone turned off. At first, when I heard the voice mail message, I was so happy to hear him. He sounded just like my Rob, the one I know without the M16 rifle and the too short, almost bald Marine haircut.
“It’s Rob,” I thought, “He sounds like he’s right here.”
And then I realize I’d missed a chance to talk to him.
“It’s not a big thing,” I told myself. “He’ll call back.”
I argued with myself.
“But he won’t call back because he’s in a flippin combat zone.”
And then I got really pissed. Angry. Cursing myself for being at the store trying on clothes while my son tried to call. Swearing. Why hadn’t I taken the phone off vibrate so that I could hear it? I was trying on clothes, for Pete’s sake.
The kind part of myself stepped in and said, “But how would you know that he was going to call? You can’t put your life on hold.”
“Shut up…. No one wants to hear that right now.”
I came home, and saw the text from Julia: “Did you get to talk to Rob?” And I immediately, surprisingly, burst into tears. I felt cheated.
“It’s just a phone call, Jo, what are you getting so crazy about?” the voice inside my head said. I was shocked at how strong and on the edge my emotions were about this simple phone call.
Because, because… I have a son in a war zone. And I just wanted to hear his voice, know that he is okay. I just want him to be home. I want him to be safe.
My son is in a war zone and this is the invisible cloak I wear everyday. Even though I don’t think about it every minute, it’s with me all the time. Always.
I can go back to my normal life, carry on again. But this outburst, the tears, they remind me of what I’m going through, what our family is going through, this having a son deployed. It’s unnatural to have someone you love in so much in danger. Everyday. For seven months. And unnatural that you don’t get to talk to him. Or see him.
And then I remind myself of my friend whose son was murdered recently. I am immediately sober. Because I have faith that my son will come home soon. I hold onto the knowing that I will see him. I have what my friend does not. She does not have this hope.
So then I replace the worry, the anger, the “poor me” attitude with gratitude. Gratitude that he is alive. And he will come back to us.