22 January 2006

... but what if

I had a conversation with my First Sergeant today. He asked how my family was taking the deployment. Over the course of the conversation I was reminded of something that irritated me back in Germany. When people would find out that I was going to Iraq they would all the sudden want to come see me or talk to me or in some form or fashion let me know that they cared about me. While I appreciated that people were thinking of me, I found that many of these people decided to show their concern in such a way that I got the impression that their motive was that they may never see me again. I found it almost insulting at times when people would give me that look that says, "Oh, you poor soul. Leaving your pregnant wife for Baghdad." It made me want to tear my hair out. Treating me like I had no idea of what I was getting myself into, almost predicting that my kid would be born to a widow. If someone close to you is about to get sent to a combat zone, the best thing you can do to encourage them is let them know that you'll see them when they get back. Don't say things in past-tense or that show you're trying to clear your conscience because you may never get the chance again.

It reminded me a lot of when Mom died. Losing her was tough, but having to recount it for everyone that wanted to express their condolences was infinately more difficult. I know people were trying to be nice, but it had the opposite effect. There is no delicate way to say it when you're in the position, but I wish that people would have just said they were sorry and moved on. Talking about their fondest memories of my mom did not comfort me, it made me relive her death over and over.

I've learned that despite my curiosity, the best thing that I can do is let someone know that I'm concerned and if they want anything they just have to ask. That way I'm not putting them through the additional pain I went through. I hate to sound like I'm angry at the people who were trying to reach out to me when I was going through tough times, but in an effort to help those people understand the affect they actually had (and to get it off my chest) I felt that I should say it.

5 Comments:

Blogger Robert F. Griffing said...

Ben,
Our church had a luncheon for people in the military, or with family in the military. I told one family--son finishing up tour of duty in Afganistan (airborne)--about your flag. I remember your promise to Katie to bring it and yourself home safely from any deployment. I say, That's the spirit!

07:38  
Blogger bandit.three.six said...

Now that I think about it, I'm going to have to extend that promise to our little one too! =) There's no sense in turning something into a family heirloom and not passing it on to the next generation.

09:41  
Anonymous BensBabe said...

Hehe, hey! Grrr! My flag! Not gonna share it with crying little babies! Oh wait. Just kidding. That sounds like a great idea, babe! See you when you are back! Loooooooooooooooove you!

01:51  
Anonymous justin the odd said...

yah...i'll most definitely see ya when you get back.

i agree...about sorrow and condolences. i try to let them know i'm there and then let them heal in peace and quiet.

keep the up the good computer hacking stuff and powerpoint presentations, or whatever it is that you do.

04:45  
Anonymous Brian said...

thanks for the great post. Made me think about a couple things. When mommy was sick, once the general storm passed, there were only two or three people left that would continue asking about her health, that I felt was rather encouraging. By that time I wasn't retelling the same story several times a day. And it showed that it wasn't the usual "I heard that" response (which I still have to admit has it's place), but genuine care

05:58  

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