Friday, June 6, 2008

Dona Nobis Pacem: My Selfish Reasons Revealed

This was published on Blogblast for Peace Day, June 4th. And, please understand, I am a veteran of two services and come from a long line of people who have been honored to serve.

Dear Members of Congress,

A call was received one fall day over 17 years ago from the executive director of the Nebraska Childrens Home Society, that maybe, just maybe, there was a birthmother who may want us to adopt her child. It was a boy. He was five weeks old. On the off chance the birthmother decided I was to be a mom, the director told us to buy a car seat, so we did.

She was 16. The birthfather was 17. She was a good student in her little high school. She decided adoption was her best route to give them both what they needed. She had dreams of college and escape from her little bit of nothing town. She wanted more for her child. The birthfather and she were no longer together, but he remained by her side as she made this journey.

We stashed the family photos in the back seat so the birthmother could see what the boy would be in for. How there were cousins and aunts and uncles and grandparents to love her son. We ticked through names again, just in case he didn’t look like the name we’d so carefully selected. Clothes were hastily packed and tossed in the trunk. The plan was to leave in disappointment, but we hoped for the best outcome.

The six hour drive across I-80 and the three driven north beyond that was of little of interest and was mostly spent just contemplating what might happen. After traveling for hours through buttes and mesas, we arrived. That night, we stayed at the Sleep Is Futile Lodge.

In the morning, we trekked over to the appointed meeting place. The western office of NCHS was a beat up old mobile home that sat forlornly in the middle of a square plot of Nebraska desert dust edged with a white picket fence. The old woman who answered the door had social worker written all over her. She asked how our drive was and told us they’d be here soon. Before long, a beat up old red pickup truck with a bag of Pampers in the back showed up.

A thin, handsome young Mexican man with a whispy teenager mustache and cowboy boots stepped out of the driver’s side. A cute brunette, who looked such a child herself, stepped out of the passenger side, holding the child. They tentatively approached the door and knocked.

At that moment, I found myself shaking uncontrollably. Would she like me? Would I be the one she could see rocking her child to sleep every night? The fate of my dream to be a mother was in the hands of two who were children themselves.

Hours later, after thousands of questions had been asked and answered in both directions, they stepped outside to speak to each other in private. A few minutes later, they came back in.

She walked up to me. She slowly lifted her eyes from the shining eyes of the boy in her arms to mine and said quietly, “What will you name him?” I told her.

She handed me their child. She handed me her child. She handed him to me. I was holding my child.

She kissed him goodbye. He rubbed the boy’s head.

They cried and held each other. Then they left.

Suddenly, despite all of our preparation, we had no idea what to do with this thing, this human being who had been so ceremoniously handed to us. Would I be a good mom? Would I love him enough? Would I do it unconditionally?

The boy turns 18 in four months. I’ve had 17 and 2/3 years to love this boy. To love him so much that every time he makes a mistake, I ache for him. That every time he has a triumph, I cheer for him. That every time he has a sniffle, I wish I’d started that medical degree. That every time he pulls away on his way to growing up, I cry for me.

He is my first child. He’s the one I had hours and hours to spend holding up in the air as I lay on my back, slowly bringing him and his cute little protruding ears down to my chest as he giggled with glee at the ride he had somehow ended up on.

He’s the one I have hundreds of photographs of as he made his way from formula through 52 flavors of Gerber’s as though he was the first child ever to master strained carrots and peas. This boy who still faints at the site of blood or needles.

He wants to join the Marines. He has some idea that it is heroic or valiant or he will somehow make a statement about who he is or what he can do if he does this. There is nothing heroic about the war in Iraq. We are the invader.

No amount of counsel has thus far made a difference. And, in four months, it’s out of our hands. He knows that.

My son will be a teenage man-child, far from prepared for the horror of battle and the scars that will eventually come later, if he’s gets that far. Just like so many others who came before him. Many of whom never came home. He doesn’t understand that his sense of immortality is a false god to rely upon. Or the permanence of death and what it leaves in its wake.

I don’t want that for my son. My son with the big empathetic heart and the dimples in his cheeks and cleft in his chin. He is destined for something else, not this, not this war.

The war needs to stop. I don’t want to lose my son. There, I said it. I’m selfish. I think I’ve finally earned that right. I want the chance to someday hold his child up in the air as I lay on my back, slowly bringing him and his cute little protruding ears down to my chest to giggle with glee. And, I don’t want any more mothers or fathers to lose their child to this nonsense–not on either side.

Tell me you can make that happen, Ladies and Gentlemen, tell me you can. Tell me you’ll do it now. Before my son turns 18 and does what teenage boys do – not listen to his parents just because he can. What a stupid reason to become a Marine.

Stop the War Now.

Never More Sincere About Anything,



Jos said...

Lori, what an excellent piece!
And I am not only saying that because I do agree with you so much..
I think you should send this to the Washington Post!

Me. Here. Right now. said...

Jos, Thanks so much for your support (on the war and the writing). I wonder if they'd take an op-ed?