Friday, July 8, 2011

Who's Helpless Now?

I will never forget the day we put our infant son on the carpet in front of our family room fireplace just a few weeks after we brought him home from the Naval Hospital at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, NC. He struggled to lift his head. His body wiggled and his legs kicked, but he didn't move an inch. I was the invincible Marine attack pilot but watching him there literally drove me to tears. I was overwhelmed -- just like I was for every one of my 5 boys when they were infants -- by his utter helplessness.

He could not do anything for himself. I was overcome by the realization that his survival was totally dependent on the care Mary and I would give him. He literally couldn't live without us. As a new dad, the enormity of that responsibility was crushing. It took my breath away. I wanted to leave the room ... but I couldn't leave him alone.

Today that little infant is a 6' 1", 23 year-old, Infantry/Ranger qualified, 2nd Lieutenant in the Army's 4th Brigade, 101st Airborne 'Screamin Eagles' Division (please don't tell him, but I think he might be able to beat me up). More importantly, this is the day that young man is leaving for Afghanistan -- for FOB Sharana in the eastern province of Paktika on the Pakistan border.

After all the heart-warming West Point parades; after all the Army-Navy Game grief that has been exchanged; after all the academics that seemed so much like any other college; after all the military training he's undergone while we watched in knowing denial of its purpose -- today it all becomes real. Today my son gladly accepts the duty he committed himself to 5 years ago -- the duty to protect a way of life that I too often take for granted.

The wheel of history continues to turn but today that wheel seems upside down. Today my son feels invincible ... and I am the helpless one.

Godspeed, Rob.

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  1. Oh Bob thank you so much for sharing this with us and giving us the opportunity to pray for Rob and the rest of your family. Our God is an awesome God and I know watches over you as you are such a faithful servant. God Bless Jackie

  2. Beautifully written as always...

  3. On my knees, joining the rest of the saints in prayer! xoxo...d


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