I’ve been a BSM for 3 years now and it hasn’t been easy. I’ve sent a lot of packages, cards, and more to my son and his buddies to let all of them know that they are in my thoughts and prayers. I’ve cried A LOT and worried even more. I cry at movies, when watching the news, while washing the dishes, and in my sleep. I’ve also cried tears of joy upon seeing him come home for some R&R, at his graduation from BCT, and after receiving his phone calls while he was in the sand. A friend told me she has cried enough tears to fill a swimming pool since her sons have been in. It’s just a part of me now, the crying and worrying. I can’t help it, it’s a part of being a BSM.
You see, I don’t have just 3 sons that I gave birth to, I have countless sons and daughters now. My own son made me a part of this huge family when he enlisted, just as all of the others did to their own parents when they signed up. They made us a family of thousands. I stand together with my BSM’s at Homecomings, Memorials, and more. I share in their joy and their sorrow. Whether their child is now a Veteran or still active, they are a BSM. They are my sisters and always will be.
I had the honor of being invited to an event by another group of BSM’s in my state. So, earlier this week, I attended a memorial for the fallen from my State and it was both sorrowful and joyous. The families, I have found out, are resilient. There were tables set up in several rooms, each dedicated to their Soldier, their Son, or Daughter. With scrapbooks to look through and photo collages to view each one of their lives, from beginning to end. Photos of babies, never seen by their Fathers, numerous service medals placed next to Little League photos. Flags in glass cases, crossed sabers on display along with some of their favorite snacks, telling everyone exactly who they were and how much they still loved and missed. I was struck by the parent's ability to reach out, part of their healing process, to each other and to every one of us who attended. There were quilts that were lovingly made, some by families and some that were made by others here at home and sent to the soldiers when they arrived wounded. Something to comfort them and remind them of home while they healed. At one table, there was a single photo with the young Soldiers dress uniform lovingly folded next to it. His parents, standing there alone, looking longingly and lovingly at that photograph. I asked if this was their son, and his mother looked at me with some confusion. English was not her or her husband's native language. They were refugees from another war that was not embraced by the American public at the time, but they had made it over here to safety. Their son, in honor of the U.S. giving them refuge and a place to call home that was safer for them, volunteered for OIF because of this, where he gave the ultimate sacrifice in the hope that others would also find a safe haven as his parents did.
When I arrived with my fellow BSM, there weren’t a lot of people there yet, just those who were still setting up tables and the parents who were still fishing through their photos to determine what they wanted to share that day. There were painted portraits, laser-cut portraits, and banners with their pictures on them. While viewing their memories, I was suddenly overcome with emotion while viewing one young Soldier’s lifetime. His position was the same as my own sons and seeing this young man in a photo struck my heart like a bolt of lightning. I stood there and began to cry, my head down, tears slowly rolling over my cheeks. As I reached for a tissue (there was a box at every table), a woman approached me and asked me “Hey Mom, do you need a hug?” I turned around and nodded and she gave me a warm, loving hug. I pointed to the picture of this young man and told her that I was so moved, knowing that this young man had served in the same position as my own son. She smiled and nodded and said, “yes, my son really loved what he did.” This was HER son’s memorial table and she was the one consoling me! We hugged again and I thanked her for her sacrifice as her son looked on, smiling.
I hope I never have to make a memorial table for my son but I know that if I do, my family, my sisters will be there with me.