When a dear friend called me earlier in the morning, I answered immediately. It didn't matter that I had two jars of baby food in my hand and two recently awoken children ready to eat. She wouldn't call at that time to just talk - she would call because she needed to talk. In the shortest second my mind processed everything that could prompt the call and all of them circled around the death or injury of a soldier. Was it her soldier? A chill ran down my spine. Was it one of his men? Was it another commander? They had already lost one Company Commander. A day that hit so close to home for all of us.
It was not her soldier. It was not one soldier. It was six soldiers. They all belonged to her Battalion. They all were connected to her and her husband in some way. They all gave their lives protecting ours. My heart ached for her. This was not their first loss, not their second, not their third. This loss placed them in the double digits - just over three months into the deployment. This unit is worn to its bare emotions. They should be broken. They should be horribly weary. They should be so very tired.
And they are tired. They are broken right now. They are worn from the whirlwind of emotions involved in the unrelenting losses of these brave soldiers. They are fearful that there will be another loss. They are fearful that their soldiers will not return. They are fearful that this nightmare will not end.
And I am not going to talk about honor. Yes, there is the greatest honor for each of these soldiers. Their sacrifice will not go unremembered. There deaths will not be in vain. I have said so many times how much honor should be given to the fallen. And I still strongly believe that - but today the horrendous battle that exists within the minds of these families needs to be talked about.
On a day like today - when the pain from this loss has reignited the pain that had not yet healed from the last deaths - it is so hard to not just wallow in the despair. There is so much agony suffered by the Army community when a loss like this occurs - so much hurt burning in those closest to the fallen.
But I know one of these family leaders. I know her well and I know her spirit. I know her incredible tenacity and ability to comfort and support and empower those around her. The determination and strength within this unit will overcome the despair they currently feel. They will band together, as they have so many times already, and be strengthened by each other. They will mourn the fallen. They will comfort the families that have been left behind. They will hold onto each other and pray with and for each other and get through this day.
It is hard to see the end at a time such as now. It is hard to focus on anything but the next day and then the next. And as they focus on one day to the next to the next, the end will come. They will hug their soldiers with deepest gratitude that they get to hold them and feel them breathe and touch their faces. Not all days will be as this day. That day will come.
It will come.
Please keep the soldiers and families of the 1-61 Cav of the 4th Brigade - 101st Airborne Division in your daily prayers. I always ask for prayers for our troops - the prayers should never cease. But as you pray for our military men and women, please, in the next several days pray for comfort to blanket this unit, for strength to flow from their leaders, and for healing to enter into the hearts of those who mourn the fallen.
My prayers are with them.
"A soldier doesn't fight because he hates what is in front of him. A soldier fights because he loves what he left behind." - unknown
"God is our refuge and strength. He will protect us and make us strong" (ps 46:1). For those who will fly today, for those who are there now, and for those who will soon join the fight, Lord, shield them from all evil, strengthen their hearts, and bring them home safely.