Wednesday, September 30, 2009

I (don't) Love The Smell Of PooBurning In The Morning

Saturday morning, hometown USA:

People stretching, someone up early, dishes making noise, cupboards slamming, rolling over, thinking no, I'm too tired stretching more, and then that smell, that irresistable smell, that oh, it's not healthy but DAMN that smells good I better get up or I won't get any, the smell of fat and plenty and harvest time wakes you up for real.

It's like the smell of hot buttered popcorn; bad for you, but irresistable.

Wafting up. Teasing you out of bed. Seducing you away from your partner, the Healthy Diet.

Bacon sizzling in the pan. Oh...My...Gosh.

Smell it. It's wonderful. Fat and intoxicating. Your butt can grow just breathing it in, it's so rich.

Zach, waking up for work, half-asleep, dreaming of home, breathing in deep, deeper, smelling that rich fragrance of his dreams.

Oh, wait.

That's not bacon.

What the hell is THAT???!!!

That's AWFUL!

Cue the sound track banjos screeching to a halt, lights up, eyes startling open. What the hell IS that???"

That, dear soldier, is the smell of last night's spaghetti dinner, processed hour by hour through the digestive tract, garlic bread and salad and the brownie and intestinal gas pooped out into the portable toilets,

...being burned.

Oh,yeah it is.

Times several thousand soldiers.

Can you imagine how that must smell?

Zach told me that one of the things he fantasizes about having when he gets back home is a clean, shining white porcelain seat with a lovely nickle-plated flush handle. The sound of water, swishing through pipes. A vent fan.

Not the rows of portable toilets lined up, baking in the sweltering desert sun, which he swears get emptied and cleaned once every week...or so...whether they need it or not.

Oh, my gosh, I almost cried right then and there. Of all the dangers and rigors of deployment, if I was the one out there, that's the one that would be hardest for me.

I can face many, many things, but the prospect of several trips a day to that thing would probably cause me to lay face down in the desert sand and I don't know, just give up.

Germaphobes, quit shaking in your boots and stand tall. We can face this enemy. We would have to. All of our soldiers on deployment over there have to. Every day.

So this year, when I am inclined to bitch and moan and complain about some little thing or other, some little problem of life or person or whatever, I think of what it would be like to live, eat, sleep, work, and try to relax to the constant, daily, everpresent smell of burning shit.

Remembering that I do not have anything, anything, ANYTHING in my life as bad as Shit On Fire, I shut up and just git 'er done.

Feel better now? Life not as bad as you thought? I hoped this might help!

Thanks for checking in,

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Faster, Shorter, More Often

I have gotten stuck in feeling as if I have to write something profound for these entries. But the original intention was to simply keep a journal, and write something profound if it came up.

With a big item finished in my life - the novel finished - I'm going to try and now stick to that original intention better. Here's the letter I just sent to Zach:

So, dearest heart,
I was picturing you the other night, when you guys were broken down. Going over you detail by detail, your smile, your beautiful neck, your shoulders, your feet. Only a mother and a girlfriend do stuff like that! You are so beautiful, and I love your smile, and everything about you.

Just everything.

Grandmom or Dad told me about the cigar smokes in the desert and the talks about life and big ideas. While I don’t love the cigars (LOL, mom talking :-) I do love that Pop and Grandmom sent them to you and you get time to think about stuff bigger and beyond. I like that.

Courtney and I talked yesterday for a few moments. She is stressing about the next upcoming test. I gently laughed at her and told her it would be fine. I know she’ll do just fine. She always does.

Cripes, that was actually two days ago. We were in the grocery store getting stuff for Gabe. Yesterday I was a the annual Legacy Chase in Baltimore, the big horse race at Shawan Downs that my dear friend David Ashton invites me to. She and I talked then and I promised to call her back after the event – but, oops, went home, took care of Gabe, cleaned for Gmom and Becky and Andy to come visit, helped Gabe take his first bath (yay!) welcomed Dad home, and forgot. Darn it. I’ll call her later today.

It’s a steady autumn rain today. The trees have barely started changing colors, just the first few, but even though everything is still green, green, green, it’s becoming that kind of olive-green, so you know they are ready. Except the grass, which has grown all summer as if it’s spring. Dad and I hardly ever fight, so he hasn’t needed to mow it all in a huff to calm down, but it seems to get done. Although I am still not allowed to use the mower, which is stupid.

You said your weeks go so fast - in that way, mine are a little like yours. I feel as if I have two days in the week, Monday and Friday. Monday I start my home week, and Friday (except the last two weekends) I start my Cheapeake City week. They come so fast. Spring, gone. Summer, gone. Autumn…whoa.

The Big News: I finished my book. Yep.

I had hoped to finish it by the time you went on deployment so that I could focus on writing the Afghanistan blog, but missed that deadline. Then I got to the very ending – the last few thousand words – and I just couldn’t write it. I wanted the ending to be strong, and good writing, and set up the sequel nicely, and I just had no idea how to do it and pack it into so few words. But Friday morning, I woke up and could feel the little fiddling feeling in my brain that I am starting to recognize as it’s time to write and I just sat up in bed, opened my computer, and five hours later, the end was written.

I will send you a CD copy to read, if you like. I have to go over the whole thing again, for typos and to format it properly…but it’s now time to start finding a literary agent.

I told Dad, Gabe, Ben, and then about an hour later, it kind of dawned on me..."I just wrote a whole book…I just finished my first novel!!!!!" I felt like a little balloon, the one Eeyore gets for a birthday present, just flat and like all the air had gone out of me, as if I’d been holding my breath since December when I started. And then I took a great nap.

Gabe is able to put a little weight on his leg – just for a short while. But it eases the trip down to the bathroom, although the trip back he can’t do it yet. The wonderful thing to him was to get into a hot bath for the first time in three weeks. I imagine you’ll make the same "ahhhhh" sound when you can when you get home!

We love you so much. Ben was very impressed with the Legacy Chase, which is exactly why I took him. Ben was my date while Dad covered the shop for me, which I hugely appreciated). I think it really made him think about life and how he wants to get where he wants to go. The first two people we talked to there were a former fighter pilot and a former CIA worker. I told him to write it down so he doesn’t forget by Thursday. But it was a good conversation. I have great faith in him. He'll start slow but I think he'll build up to a pretty good cruising altitude.

Take care, stay safe. I update folks all the time about you. We all love you and are proud of you and so very,very glad that you are happy.

Tell us little details. We love hearing them. Love to you,

Monday, September 21, 2009

To Life

Here in Baltimore, in the tiny battleground of Gabe’s wrist, a fight is in full swing.

The surgery, which was predicted to take two hours, has been nearly four hours now. We just got a call from the OR nurse. It’s been difficult. It’s going to be a while longer. Maybe another hour.

Is Gabe okay? I asked. Yes. He’s fine. And the doctor is really good.

I can picture it, the landscape of broken bone and sheared cartilage, the pieces which need to be put back together securely enough somehow so that tendons can pull fingers, so that hands have full strength to lift, to twist. I picture Gabe a month ago, agile, supple, up and down in a flash, working on things on his truck. His hands moving fast…too fast. Slow down, we would say. But he was so proud of his quickness. I want those hands to work well, really well, again.

The surgeon is in there, making choices. What to hook to what, and how. Not having anywhere near good choices to work with. Maybe weighing difficult decisions of what could be lost.

I think of the doctor leading the operation. He’s a superstar, I was told by Gabe's renowned leg surgeon. He’s the guy I would want operating on my kid if need be. This very talented man is still in there, now going into the fifth hour. They have been fighting, doing their best with the rules of flesh and bone and physics and tension and tissue and a very limited space to work in and much to leverage, to get the job done as well as they can. Inevitably, they will be unhappy with parts of the process. Some of it will not go as well as they had hoped. There may be permanent damage.

It is hard to write that. I do not take it lightly. I am just forcing myself to look at this dispassionately, and honestly.

If we are talking about putting a wrist back together, it’s one thing. If we are talking about doing the best job you can to design the rules of a war, permanent damage means something else. It means the life and health of men and sometimes women, who deserve to live, and be as healthy and happy as you and me.

Kathy Wilt, Scott’s mom, emailed me a couple of weeks ago. She has mentally adopted every soldier over in the province. I think it’s a mom thing, to open your heart like that, and Kathy really, really does. Her anguish over the Rules Of Engagement – the ROE – that is supposed to protect Afghan civilians but sometimes leaves our soldiers wanting, was deep and heartfelt - and understandable. And shared by many.

There is not going to be a succinct summing-up of life, a perspective that puts everything in place here. The wrist repair and the war have this in common: it’s work that's not pretty. It’s not perfect. We just hope it works the best it can.

And we have to trust that the folks in charge – the NATO leaders and the folks in the operating room here – are doing the very, very, very best they are able. That's a leap of faith when you are talking about the life and health of someone you love.

Dear hearts who have suffered loss, may you find the peace you need to live with it.

The rest of us…let us be grateful. In fact, let us be ridiculously happy, aware of life, celebrating it. The world is trying to be good and do good. Ramadan, the time for Muslims to ask for forgiveness and to do good deeds, has just ended. Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, has begun, and soon it will be Yom Kippur, The Day of Atonement. Today we celebrate the close of this year’s summer, and look forward to autumn; it's the fall equinox, known as Mabon to the ancient Celtic tribes. My Buddhist sister and my Episcopalian church have prayed for my sons this week.

It's no particular holiday here in the fluorescent halls of Sinai Hospital. It's just another wonderful, patient-filled night. The surgery is over, and Gabe's wrist is going to be mostly okay again over time.

Life is good. Things go wrong sometimes, sometimes terribly wrong; but more often in life, I believe things go okay. Let us love and comfort those in pain; but let us live with joy and hope for good.

I have faith in good. In the best of times and in the hard times.

Especially here, today, now.

Thank you, Dr. Dietch. You ROCK.
Thank you, good luck; and to all: to life, to life, l’ life.

Thanks for checking in,

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Fear, and Not Fear

I’m sitting in the lobby of the Rubin Institute for Advanced Orthopedics at Sinai Hospital. Gabe is getting x-rays as his first step in transferring to this practice from the trauma team at Christiana Care.

An 80th birthday party, cake and candles waiting.
A quiet country road, curving between trees and open sunlight.

A curve.
Gravel, invisible in the shade.

Life changes in the littlest of moments.

If he had left seconds earlier or later, the little moment may not have happened.
If they had gone back for a forgotten purse, the little intersection might not have taken place.

But it did. He took the curve, not seeing the gravel all over the road on his side as the road transitioned from sunlight to shade, and immediately his life became a set of impossible options. Sliding, hoping to regain control, his motorcycle went across two yellow lines, and met the girl and her mom and their new car...via the windshield.

He remembers thinking, well, I’m going to hit hard. I’m going to be hurt. Let’s see how it goes.

A friend told me that he fell from a collapsing scaffold, dropping forty feet before he hit the ground, and he remembers seeing every building component he passed on the way down, remembers seeing fine details in the paint as he fell. He remembers things hitting him, scaffolding falling on him, after he hit. But he doesn’t remember the impact.

What does our mind do in that heartbeat, that one-two seconds of awareness, before the trauma? How does our mind see and record in super speed? Or is it that our eyes and senses always record at that speed, our mind always process at that speed…but when we blinder-out irrelevant details, we are for that tiny interval aware of our lightning-fast processing of visual information?

And oddly, why are all sounds blocked out? Why is vision critical then, when we cannot begin to use the information being fed so precisely to us?

And why don't we remember the most painful part?

Gabe doesn’t remember the impact. He remembers less than half-a-second before, and half-a-second later. His motorcycle hit the car head-on, he hit the car, and then he rolled off the hood of the car and fell to the ground.

He does not know that he bounced. He was lying several feet away from the car, in terrible pain but calmly assessing his injuries when we arrived on the scene seconds later, following him to the birthday party.

Now, here at the Rubin Center, I find myself thinking about the small mechanics of what hit what, and in what order. I have not been able to do that in the ten days since the accident. My mind has gotten close to it, and has shied away, not willing and not able to go to the terrible moment and details of what happened.

It does not really matter; but the breaks to his leg, pinned together, will need to be undone and reset again, and the breaks to his wrist are extremely bad and complicated. We are learning about the differences between regular breaks and high-speed trauma breaks, and how your body heals differently. The mechanics of the accident do matter, in terms of healing.

And so, that has given me permission almost, to think about what nauseated me earlier. In slow motion, I am starting to picture what I have not been able to picture before: the bike approaching the car, the front tire blistering through the bumper straight through to the frame of the car, hitting it so hard that the motorcycle tire rim buckled in two places so deeply you could cradle a whole grapefruit in the curve, and then broke.

And then the bike twisting slightly sideways, crumpling against the car. His body lifting off the bike, following the line of motion, while the two terrified occupants saw a royal blue helmet carve a crater in their windshield.

Where did his leg hit, and how? What precise mechanical angle and speed and pressure of bone against metal caused it to break? What did his arm hit, and how?

Looking at it will not change anything. Thankfully, he has insurance and we live close to world-class treatment centers. The people here are going to put it back together. But it gives me some little peace to finally look the thing in the eye, and stop avoiding it.

The mind of the person in the accident records nearly all of it in great detail, immediately.
The minds of the people who love them cannot bear to think of the details, for a long while.

But our minds must explore, eventually. We have to go there. For some reason, we human beings must look for peace in the most awful of places.

What does this have to do with HMH-463 in Afghanistan? Well, two things.

One: I’ve written about fear already, the fear of death or injury to someone we love over there. It’s a big deal. I’m going to write about it again and again, I’m going to step up and do the dance with fear and face it and call it by name and tango with it until I know I can outdance it again.

One: I have said more than one time to myself and other people that I am sometimes more afraid of what can happen to Zach’s two younger brothers than I am of him. Zach is well-trained, and works with a great team in a fabulous squadron with amazing equipment. Odd as it may sound to say it, realistically and statistically, he is a very safe young man.

But here at home, Ben crosses that double-yellow center line pretty often. Not on a motorcycle…but in choices, choices about staying out late and partying with friends versus working, choices that blur the line between right and wrong, and do nothing to move that amazing mind of his towards accomplishments of which it is capable. Some kids pull out, and are fine. Some kids don’t. We all worry about slippery slope on which he and his friends travel, and worry about how taking chances with freedom can limit your freedoms in life.

With Gabe, it’s different worries. Worries about attractions of a different kind, fascinations with technology and games, and how time wasted on them can reduce options in life as a person gets older, because as parents, we see that opportunity comes to those who make it. Worries that he goes too fast internally, that it makes him go too fast externally sometimes, in large things and small. It makes him impatient and angry at times, makes him push the envelope…and it puts him at risk.

And of course, that motorcycle. I’ve pushed back awful imaginings of what could happen. The whole first two years we fought, about following-interval distances and speed and on which roads I was too nervous for him to drive (the beltway). Five years after he got it, I was just finally relaxing about him riding it. Almost.

This accident was not his fault in any way. Nothing he did contributed to it. But now, with two world-class doctors assessing his leg and arm, it looks as if he is going to have a long time to learn to go slow.

So the first thing this has to do with HMH-463 is that maybe we don’t need to worry so much. Things at home can be just as dangerous for us; and we need to take care of ourselves for them so we don’t cause them worry, and we’re in good shape to hug them when they get back.

Gabe will be right when all is said and done, several months from now. But there will be lots of time for reflection, for thinking back…for looking ahead and deciding the new path. Maybe even for going to the moment of the accident over and over, cursing himself for small choices…if I’d done this or that, if I’d slept later today, if I’d left for the party earlier.. We humans have to do that: go back again and again to the bad place, looking for acceptance and peace.

And that takes me to the second thing this has to with Afghanistan: humans finding peace, within and without, in the worst of places.

I heard once that the men who fought one another long and bitterly in Iwo Jima for months, Japanese men and the American Marines reunited years later, rushed at one another, embracing, crying. Only they knew the horror of what they had inflicted on one another, of what each side had lived through. In the need to heal, they looked in the darkest of places, and it helped them find peace and acceptance.

Each of us, having someone they love in a war zone, has her or his own limit of how far we can look into the place of fear. Each of us has a personal limit, like me looking at Gabe’s moment of impact: I can go no further, not any further, just now.

But eventually, we do. Our minds get stronger, little by little. We inch forward in our thoughts and peek towards those things that could scare us: ugly possibilities. Moments of truth.

We look at the difficult parts because we are human, because we must, because we want nothing to limit us…and especially not fear, the most powerful limiter of all.

In the end, understanding what could happen or has happened will change nothing. But somehow, in the process of gathering courage to look, we grow in strength.

The good grace that blessed our lives the day of Gabe’s accident is holding steady. Amazing surgeons are putting his leg and arm bones and his possibilities back together. Exactly what happened, and how, is only of tangential interest to them.

But to me, peeking at it, I find little bits of strength in garnering the courage to look, even just a peek, at the difficult what-ifs and what-dids.

Life requires stretching and strength. I thank all my children – Zach, Gabe and Ben – for the opportunities they have given me to grow. They have made me a strong mother, a woman with a deep, deep sense of humor, a more patient and compassionate person. And they have helped me look fear straight in the eyes a couple of times, and not back down. I don’t want many more of those times…but they have made me a better person than I would have been.

For all three of them, and for our service people and their loved ones, especially HMH-463, I hope for the same stretching-and-strength to happen.

Thanks for checking in,

Wednesday, September 9, 2009


......"a suicide bomber struck outside a British military base in southern Helmand province on Wednesday, killing two Afghan truck drivers and seriously wounding international troops, officials said.

The explosion occurred in a parking area outside the gates of Camp Bastion, said Daoud Ahmadi, a spokesman for the governor. Large trucks that deliver supplies to the camp wait there for clearance to enter the base.

Sidenstricker said initial reports suggested the attacker was a wearing a vest laden with explosives. She said several service members were seriously wounded. She did not provide their nationalities. Several countries have troops on the base.

Ahmadi said the blast also destroyed some trucks."


Thursday, September 3, 2009

Faith Versus Fear

I’ve been putting off writing this journal and you don’t know why, but I know why. I promised one thing to myself in writing, and that was that I would be completely, completely honest with myself and with you about the experience…and I haven’t wanted to be honest about this.

It’s because an old acquaintance showed up, and has been distracting me.

He knows me so well. He knows all my vulnerable points, he knows how to get me to see things his way, he knows everything about me…and we have danced together so many, many times.

I love him, in a strange way. He always wants to get me, and fighting him off has made me a stronger person. So I am grateful to him for that. But he has so much control over me, and he makes me miserable, and so I hate him too.

He has been showing up in the last week, whispering seductive lies to me, and it is time to put a stop to it. It is time to close my ears and heart to him.

So, my old partner, I am calling you out from secrecy, where you have been lingering inside me, growing, into the light that makes you wither and die.

Yes, you, Fear. I’m taking you on…again...and I’m going to win. Again.

The first thing I learned about fear is this: Fear is the greatest liar in the world.

Fear will tell you that it will keep you safe.
That is a lie. It does not keep you safe.
Fearing something does not keep you safe from it.

Now, I’m not advocating a complete abdication of common sense. Don’t go touching something that is filthy and then sticking your fingers in your mouth or eyes, laughing haha, I’m not afraid to get sick! Because you just might come down with a big case of stupidity. Or the flu.

Don’t jump off the bridge. Dumbass.

I’m talking about fears that are emotional.

Let’s say you’re afraid of flying.
Being afraid of it does not keep you safe.
Being afraid of it means you may not fly. And you will then miss out on lots and lots of good fun things you could have done. And you will teach your children to be afraid to fly. And fear will grow in power in your life, and then take more and more things away from you. The ability to drive over bridges. The ability to climb hills.

It will cut you down to nothing, and it will control you utterly – if you let it.
So do not let fear tell you that it is protecting you, when its intention is to ruin you.

I know what I’m talking about. Ask any family member how much work it took me to get over an irrational fear of flying. Twenty frickin’ years, it was so deep in me. That’s another story. But I fly just fine now. And so do my kids.

The Second Lie:
Fear will tell you want to do to protect yourself from being hurt.
That is a lie too.
Fear will make you do the very thing that will cause you to get hurt in the very way you don’t want to be.

For example, think of a couple having a fight. He thinks that she’s taking advantage of him, and he’s afraid he’s going to get hurt. So Fear tells him to put up walls, to shut her out, to be cold.

Um…what’s that going to do?

She’s going to feel shut out and rejected, and pull back, maybe even leave him…and then he’s going to get hurt.

So Fear’s advice caused exactly what he didn’t want to happen, to happen.

Think about it the next time you find yourself afraid of an emotional test, a feared loss. And then test out what happens if I ignore the fear and go forth bravely with the truth and hope and honesty?

You might find some shocking results. I mean it. Test it.

Fear will tell you it is your friend.
It isn’t.

It is your worst enemy.

So what’s Fear been saying to me? I’m going to type it out exactly the way it is. I may look overly emotional, I may look stupid, but I don’t care. Telling the truth makes me stronger, so I’m not afraid to tell the truth.

Here’s the big truth, that Fear does not want you to know:
Telling the truth about fear diminishes and destroys it.

It doesn’t mean a bad thing will never happen.
But it means the bad thing loses its control over you.

At the root of all fear is this little sentence:
I’m afraid I won’t be happy.

If I don’t get picked for the team, I’m afraid I’ll look stupid… I’m afraid I won’t be happy.
If I don’t get that guy, I’m afraid my heart will break… I’m afraid I won’t be happy.
If my child is hurt, I’m afraid I will not be able to live… I’m afraid I won’t be happy.

That’s the powerful little splinter in the middle of the pus of fear.

But if the fear is destroyed instead, it cannot twist your life around and diminish it.
It means you can survive, anything. It means you can be happy, no matter what.
I am staring fear in the face, unblinking, while I type that. It was hard to type that. But I will not kow-tow to Fear. I will call it out and tell the truth about it.

I will be un-afraid.

Fear started in slow, as he always does. Telling me that the first month of deployment was over. Something about that first-month mark passing opened the door, and in he came. Just a whiff, at first. Just a little tiny tiny voice saying, one month passed…and then he hissed six or seven to go.

Little by little, the thoughts came more often. A bad dream. A scary image. I pushed them back, but they added up.

Yesterday, I had occasion to call Robyn Anderson for a quote on an article I’m writing for a local magazine.

Robyn is a beautiful person whom I respect and admire. A strong and compassionate and courageous woman. She is the mother of a remarkable young man, Marine Lance Corporal Norm Snyder, who was killed in Iraq in 2005. His good friend Corporal Josh Snyder was killed in Iraq the next month. Both boys were from Hereford High School.

You can see why fear finds an opportunity to creep in here, with two more boys from Hereford who are friends deployed over there.

I am sweating profusely just writing about it.

But let’s be logical.
There are other boys from Hereford that I don’t know who are deployed now too. So fear is tempting me to be afraid when it’s just a coincidence and not a very similar one at that.

So there, fear.

Robyn shared with me her worry that something she said had in some way tempted fate.
Boy, do I know that one.
I am afraid to say lots of things, as if somehow uttering them out loud will cause them to come true.

Does it?

Do our words somehow reach out into the chaos of the universe and call up malevolent forces that converge to wreak havoc and pain on someone we love?

Oh, for heaven’s sake. No.
When I say it that way, it sounds ridiculous.

But my companion inside, Fear, whispers…is it?

If prayer works to create good, does fear work to create bad?

I don’t know. I just do not know. I don’t think so. But Robyn and I understood each other, how carefully we word things sometimes, what we say aloud easily and what we don’t, and why. I don’t know how things are connected.

So what do we do when we have something that makes us afraid?

My one big rule is speak the fear out loud, and it loses power over you.

This one is terrifying. My fingers are flying over the keyboards, and I don’t know how when I get to the sentence that I will have the ability to do it…but here, fk, fk, fk, here we go:

I am afraid that Zach could get seriously hurt or die serving in Afghanistan.

There. I said it.

If you were sitting here watching me type, you would have seen how long it took to type each individual letter of that sentence. You would have seen me put the period at the end of it and bury my face in my hands and weep.

Fear makes me afraid to say out loud what I am afraid of.
Guess what: I just took on the fear, a little bit. I did what it told me not to do.
And I won.

And now, that place in my heart where that little bit of fear used to live is cleaned out.
There is a new bit of room there, for me to put something good in.

I think I will put faith in there. I will put in faith in goodness. I will put in faith that my son is not only extremely lucky, he is trained well. I will put in faith that the whole team is a GREAT group of guys who joke around a lot and maybe fight sometimes, but all care passionately about doing their jobs well. I will put in faith in statistics. The odds are WITH all of them coming home safe and sound, and they will help each other do it.

I will put in the absolute certainty that I have had that he will come home just fine, proud and happy and smiling and strong and healthy. I have had that certainty about their whole squadron. Fear has tried to take it away from me, but I know it to be true now that I have cleaned the windshield (as one of my dear friends says).

And I what I will put there is one more thing. I will love the fear. I shower it with all the goodness of my heart. Because it is, in the end, once you strip down all of its power and ugliness, just a little scared kid inside me, wanting to be okay.

Love yourself. Be honest about where you are weak and struggling. Trust in faith in goodness, not in fear.
You will be stronger, your loved ones will be safer, and you will all be okay.

And then…give yourself the freedom and celebration of laughter. You are free, you are safe, you are stronger, you are happy, and your loved ones are and will be too.

I believe that my son Zach will be fine. I believe that the whole squadron will be fine. Better than fine; they will be great.

Thanks for checking in,