The phone has been busy all evening. Our son was calling to say farewell, his unit deploys tonight. The first time he called was before their goodbye formation; it was not a success. Jim was off buying some saucers for the plants I brought inside for the winter as well as the two new ones my friend Nancy gave me at the fish fry Saturday. I couldn’t talk long because I had just sent a client into my room to undress for her massage when the phone rang.
So he called back later, happened to be right after dinner. We were just in the process of toasting his safety with the last of our bottle of Cabo Wabo tequila, so we sipped on the ends of our drams as we talked with him. It has been a rather fraught evening, as I discovered my dearest husband has taken the responsibility of fatherhood extremely deeply. After our final words with Jesse right after dinner, DH was so overcome by emotion he could not talk any more. He did all his evening routines and went to bed.
When I went in to change into sweat pants so I could walk the labyrinth without getting too cold, I found him wracked with tears. He told me he wanted to be alone, and I did leave him there despite the fact that my deepest need was to comfort him, put my arms around him and absorb all that pain and ground it for him. That was not what he needed, so I tore myself away and went out to walk the labyrinth under the full moon.
I could not see the moon, it was hidden behind a thick veil of clouds, which were weeping a cold, inconsolable rain in keeping with the mood inside the house. I had decided to carry Jesse into the labyrinth symbolically, and searched the house for something that was appropriate. I think I found the perfect object.
When he got married to young Amanda, the amazing painter, I gave them a witch ball for their wedding gift. This is a handblown glass ball traditionally hung in windows to absorb negative energy and keep it from reentering a space. This one was a beautiful marbled blue and green glass, and the webbing of glass threads within the ball (which are there to trap negative energy within their strands) is beautiful, balanced, thick, and complex.
Sadly, the marriage did not work out, and when Jesse had to downsize his possessions, he gave this glass ball into my keeping. It has been sitting in my living room for several years now, witnessing parties and dinners and long, loving afternoons and evenings. So, it connects me with Jim and us with Jesse. But it also spent time living with him and carries some of his energy.
Additionally, as a symbol for a human being going into a violent war zone, the fragility of the glass seems particularly apropos.
We like to think of ourselves as tough, but really our flesh and bone are all too fragile. We humans have gotten very good at devising ever more powerful ways to destroy that flesh and the human spirit it contains.
In the years since we adopted him, we have seen our son grow and develop, and overcome incredible injuries to become the strong and beautiful man he is today. We nurtured him carefully: sometimes sternly, but always with love.
What really seems sad is that the community around us does not see the sacrifice our boys and men are making in their name. They don’t seem to know or care, they just want to have enough money to be able to purchase fast food or buy the next cool plastic toy offered them by the multinational corporations who are motivating and controlling this war.
Where are the service stars? If I post one in my window, will my neighbors know what it means?
And then, as I walked the labyrinth, I thought of conversations I have had with my son; conversations where he was trying to console me and reconcile me to his choice to volunteer for military service, reminding me of the truths we both know: He has a warrior karma. He must go into battle. He must protect the innocent. It is why he is attracted to the broken and wounded young girls he seems to collect around him. One day he told me, “Don’t worry about me. I know how to be careful. And I am no stranger to death. I know that I have died in battle many times.” I know this, and bow before the knowledge deep in my heart, for I was there with him for many of those experiences: as mother, wife, comrade, sister. Never was it easy.
Perhaps this is the lifetime where he gets to live.
Meanwhile, the sky still weeps and my husband fitfully sleeps.