Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Fear, Revisited: The Other Tattoo (on my left forearm)

I’m really having trouble with some of what I wrote yesterday, for three reasons.

1. I think I may be a hypocrite
2. I worry what reactions my honesty about what I think causes in others
3. The accident that happened while I was writing it

Last things first.

Monday morning, right while I was writing yesterday’s blog post, a 911 alert went out about an accident that had just happened a mile away from my house.

A mile, here, is close. We live in a very rural area. A mile in the city isn’t in your neighborhood. A mile here, at the intersection where it happened, means that a neighbor was hurt.

My husband Mark, who is an EMT, went out knowing that he could get there minutes before the fire truck, to be of whatever assistance he could in that little time. Pressure on a bleed. Traffic control. Reassurance. You never know.

Timothy Wheatley, father of three, waa killed when his Honda Civic was broadsided by a UPS truck. His little girl in the car had to go to shock trauma in critical condition.

There is a report by an eyewitness that indicates the UPS driver may have run the red light. But why?

And that brings me to item 2. I really care about not doing any damage of any kind to the people of HMH-463.

I cannot imagine what it is like to be them, living away from home in the conditions I have described. Add a lot of testosterone on overflow – there’s no place to really blow it off the way men can here at home – and all kinds of things can happen. Two of them are ridiculously funny humor…and anger.

I worry, in the little worry factory of my brain, that something I say will be distressing to an HMH-463 friend or family member who reads this blog, and somehow that will translate into a bad experience for the men and women over there.

We’re all human beings. We humans have the best of intentions on our good days, and we’re nasty on our bad days. The same people who would risk life and limb to save someone will also blow little things out of proportion, and take offense when we shouldn’t, and read emails the wrong way. I do it just like everybody else.

So, in this journal, do I tell the truth…and the whole truth...or do I keep some of my thoughts and opinions to myself?

Do I talk about my beliefs about how God does or doesn’t protect people? Maybe some of us need that belief every single day to get them through. Maybe I don’t need to say something that might challenge their feelings. It’s my blog, I know, and I can write whatever I want, and people can either argue with me (and post it, right there on the blog, if you want) or just stop reading…but I’ve never been one to not care what others think or feel.

So how do I be honest to the task of recording our family’s experience of this deployment? What goes in…and what thoughts are kept silent?

Not an easy choice.

Not an easy choice.

What can we at home here do that will protect them most in the end?

We’re not over there. We can’t see. We only get little bits of information, filtered through short phone calls and each person’s perspective. But if one of them has a worry about a girlfriend back home, or has a fight with his wife, or money troubles on the mind, or an argument with a co-worker…how’s it affect the unit?

I don’t think that what I say could upset anyone…but you never know. And as far as I’m concerned, all the folks who care about HMH-463 are one big family. We all want ALL of them home safely.

And the folks at home, all of us dads and moms and wives and husbands and fiancés and kids and grandparents and brothers and sisters and grandparents, and girlfriends and aunts, uncles, cousins, friends…the whole shebang of us…well, we’re all connected. We all have this shared hope. I want to support that, share they’re okay information with folks who don’t get regular calls, lighten the load, whatever. Connect with each other in this shared experience.

Timothy Wheatley. The UPS truck. What happened?

Maybe the driver saw the red light. Maybe he hit his brakes. Maybe the truck didn’t stop.

I woke at 3 am today, worrying about brakes and mechanical stuff and praying.

Do the mechs at 463 know how important they are? How treasured?
Do the pilots?
Do the cooks?
Does the guy who cleans the toilets?

Because in the dark hours of the night when I wake up and worry, I love the team that keeps each other safe. You want your loved one home. The people who run the kitchens, may they do it with pride in their work, so that our loved ones have that small comfort of good food. The pilots and crew chiefs and AOs who crew the planes, may they do the best they can, so the flights with their precious cargo of humans and comfort and supplies get where they need to go.

And the mechs. I think I love them the most, and have the whole time my son has been at his job.

I don’t know that the mechs get a lot of recognition or notice…but I want to say on behalf of the home team listed above…we know.

Those of you who make sure those crazy birds can fly safe…thank you from the bottom of my heart. Thank you for every bolt tightened, every belt tested and replaced, every fluid topped off. Thanks for making sure that baby works like a charm.

Thank you, thank you, thank you. I pray you keep doing that job well. Your work is incredibly important to us.

And now, to item 1.
I’m a hypocrite. Because even though I talk out loud about what I believe and what I don’t…I still pray.

Maybe the biggest difference between me and another is not what we believe, but how we believe.

I believe that by asking questions and testing ideas and thinking, we can sift the wheat from the chaff, the good ideas from the stuff that’s been tacked onto it later, and come closer to the Central Stuff that is at the core of our humanity, the divine spirit that makes us instinctively try to do good.

Some folks just believe.

That’s their way. It sure would be more relaxing than this 4 am thinking, but this is the spirit the good Lord gave me, so I figure I have to work with what I’ve got.

But what matters is maybe not how we go about doing good, but simply that we’re all trying in our own way to do a little bit of good in the world.

Treat other people the way we want to be treated.

In case you’re wondering, that would be the matching tattoo on my other forearm. Pretty? No. But wouldn't it be a good reminder, every day, to remind us of how we could take care of each other?

Thanks for checking in,

1 comment:

  1. So many thoughts I have had. I wonder if those of us here at home who have someone "over there" really know just how much our love, care, and concern really matter? I wonder if cavalier actions and words that hurt and maim would be uttered if the person saying them really , truly knew how very much they mattered?

    Like you, I have written words expressing my lack of trust in my God, and I did not suffer from a lack of belief, but just acknowledging the fear that what my heart cried for was not what He deemed so. I don't think anyone who really thinks and believes would hold that against you, more likely see how alike we all are.

    I am sad for the man who died in the accident, for his family, and for the UPS driver, whose life has been changed dramatically forever, as has the family of the man he drove into.