I originally posted this entry almost five years ago, in November 2005. It deserves another visit. May all our returning service people return home safely from their tours of duty to open arms. God Bless 'em, today and always.
"Today is a good day," the woman said as she walked through the hair salon.
There was something in the way she said it. A calmness in her voice that pulled my attention to her. Ev stopped cutting my hair momentarily and looked up as the woman sat down in the chair at the station next to us. With a smile, Pam draped a shampoo cape around the woman. "Oh?" she remarked as she cocked her head, eye brows raised in curious expectation.
"Yes," the woman smiled. She looked up at Pam, then said, "Today my son is back on American soil."
With those words everything stopped. She held our attention. There were only four of us in the salon, but with her words I was taken by the sense that I would carry this moment all my life. Ev dropped her arms to her side as I turned in the chair to face the mother, swallowing the lump I felt in my throat. "You must be relieved," I heard Ev say. "Does he get to stay home for the holidays?"
The mother turned to both of us. She radiated with a glow; a peaceful serenity of total calm surrounded her. "He's home to stay," she replied, her words floating in the air like the promise of a new day.
Pam asked the question we all formed in our minds. "Where was he?"
"Iraq." It was a simple one word response, filled with such emotion I wondered how many times she had said that word before, her voice then filled with uncertainty and a mother's fear. The uncertainty of wondering how much longer, how many more times would she say that word. The uncertainty was gone, replaced by pure joy.
For the next few minutes she shared her joy with us. Through her words I learned. Her son served in the National Guard, called to duty almost two years ago. Now he was returning back to everything he left behind, his family, his home, and even his job. His employer was holding his job for him. I learned the most dangerous part of being in Iraq for the soldiers, is the trip home. The soldiers do not fly out of Iraq, they must make a long journey across the country...a journey across open terrain in which they are vulnerable. A journey that for some ends much too soon.
"That," she said, "is when many of them die. On their way home."
As she calmly spoke my thoughts turned to them. Silence followed.
It was an ordinary day that started like any other. Normally I make my hair appointments late in the afternoon, after work. But when Ev offered the lunch hour time slot, I took it. I'm glad I did.
I am a creature of habit and while I don't always resist change, I thrive in the mundane and routine. In the structure of that routine I find security. Then one day, I changed the routine and did something differently, with a few second thoughts. Now, I realize that change can bring us blessings. I felt blessed to be there that moment. It gave me the chance to witness first-hand one of the happy stories. After months of hearing and reading so many negative accounts of this war, for me, this one moment helped to counter balance some of the negative. Not all of it, by no means, but some of it.
The mother finished sharing her story with us, then eased her back into the chair as Pam lowered her head down to the sink. The salon was quiet as Ev turned to me and lifted her hands back to my head. I turned my thoughts inward, silently remembering all the news reports, all the numbers, all the anger.
It was the opening of a simple door, and a simple change in my schedule, that brought me to the moment. A moment I never expected...a moment I will never forget. Guess you could say it was a good hair day.
Moments ago, as I was preparing to save this entry, I heard the sound of a car door outside. I looked up from the computer screen, out through the window and watched a young couple with a baby walk into the tree farm across the street. For years I have watched families walk amid those trees. Today I watched this young couple, undeterred by the blowing wind or cloudy skies, their baby carefully bundled against the cold, moving carefully between the trees, searching for and then selecting just the right tree. Creating a tradition. It is a time for traditions, old and new.
Change, it seems, can be apowerful thing. Sometimes change is good for the soul.
~~Create a new tradition this season; do something out of the ordinary!~~
~~Forgiveness is a choice to release the other person from the need to make them pay for what they did that caused harm. Forgiveness is the key to restoration in a relationship.~~