Friday, 30 April 2010

Day 209 Week 29

At half past eight last night I was in the kitchen cooking dinner, R was in her room doing work for uni and H was reading his book in the sitting room.

Then the front door opened.

I was startled and turned to see a silhouetted figure standing in the doorway.

Then a very familiar voice said 'hi everyone, I'm home'.

And so it happened that C was at last back home and amongst us.

Nothing to say but thank you Lord.

Fellow soldier's Mum due to have her boy back tomorrow God willing.

One more blog in a week's time.

Speak soon. A soldier's Mum x

Thursday, 29 April 2010

Day 208 Week 29

Thought C would be home by now. But he's not and then discovered the reason is he's gone to visit a comrade, who, as H put it 'had half his leg blown away'. What can you say or think when you hear such a sang-froid acknowledgement of complete ruination.

You see Afghanistan is never very far away. And as C was flying home another boy from our village was flying out and so the baton was metaphorically handed over.

H said the Rifles' de-brief last night was very interesting and it was presented by the officer who wrote the blog for the Today programme. The gist of it was an explanation as to why the soldiers had lived in small isolated patrol bases amongst the indigenous population, instead of at the larger forward operating bases as was previously the case. During the former methodology the soldiers would travel out daily and return to camp nightly, but the problem was no assimilation was developed with the people they were there to protect, and during the unguarded nights the insurgents would return and intimidate the locals so undoing any achievements. The change of tactic has proven very successful in consolidating gains with schools built, roads created and safety zones provided, but the evidence in cost to life and limb seems exponential.

Thirty Riflemen lost their lives during the tour.

H home and reading and R home and dying her skin orange. C hopefully on his way. Fellow soldier's Mum tingling with excitement and her tone has changed completely as M is also due home tomorrow.

More prayers of thanks and reflection.

Speak soon. A soldier's Mum x

Wednesday, 28 April 2010

Day 207 Week 29

Well day three of home coming and it's both wonderful and very strange. Am so, so, so happy and then suddenly will feel a well of tears that it's all over. Is it disbelief? Is this real? In reality am I still in 'son posted overseas on active service' mode and this is all a dream?

The answer of course is no, this is not imagination. My son really is, thank the Lord, back in the United Kingdom and not via Selly Oak or, God bless them, Wootton Bassett.

Reflecting on the impact of the tour the overriding effect has been one of exhaustion. Exhaustion at the shear grinding relentlessness of the constant dread. Exhaustion at the never-ending mental exploration of avenues of horror which may lie around the corner. Exhaustion at the lack of sleep because the brain pings into life with a subversive chant of foreboding in the dark of the night, only to be repeated remorselessly. And exhaustion derived from a perpetual state of not knowing 'is my son still alive at this moment in time'.

Well thank God he was and we were blessed and he was lucky.

I've just returned home from yet another physio session and experienced acupuncture for the first time and hopefully it will work. H gone up to London with his father to the post-tour briefing for 3 Rifles family members. R away at uni preparing for exams. And with the grace of heaven C should be home with us tomorrow.

Fellow soldier's Mum's son now safely back in the UK too.

So many thanks Lord.

Speak soon. A soldier's Mum x

Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Day 206 Week 29

The euphoria continues thank God. Am just really happy all the time. Gone is the gnawing, insidious, dread that was the ghostly soulmate for so long. Can it be true that C is actually, finally, thankfully on the last stretch?

Apparently it can.

Yes life still has its irritations, and nothing is ever totally perfect, but to be rid of Afghaniphobia is the greatest blessing anyone connected to that seething political abyss could wish for.

And yet the knowledge that more of our young, fresh faced boys and girls are at this very moment terror-ridden in that acrid dust bowl of contradictions somehow taints the personal relief that 'our' own has returned, and we really do nearly have him home. The truth is they're all 'ours' and it is at our behest that they tread the fine line between lucky life and stolen death.

God bless those still serving.

And God knows we must never forget those of us who gave their tomorrow for our today, or the countless maimed and traumatised who can still be tucked away as if forgotten.

H rang out of the blue this afternoon and it would appear he has temporarily slipped beneath the Navy's radar and is blissfully home for a few days. R text and said 'did you ring' so thankfully that means she must be OK. Heard that C is in 'recovery' today after being on the lash in Edinburgh with the boys last night, and heaven knows he deserves it.

Fellow soldier's Mum's son due back tomorrow please God.

Is it all really winding down for we blessed few Lord?

Speak soon. A soldier's Mum x

Monday, 26 April 2010

Day 205 Week 29

Was just about to sit at my laptop and blog more uncertainty as to loved ones and whereabouts when my phone rang.

It was C. I screamed. He said 'Hi Ma. Just got back in Edinburgh. Twenty four hours to wind down in Cyprus.'

I just cried 'oh my baby. You're home. You're home. You're back. Thank God'.

And he said 'I'll ring you with more details when we can both be calmer later'.

And I cried, and laughed, and cried some more and then shouted out into the ether 'My baby's back'.

I'd been ringing C's phone for four days and each time it went automatically to voicemail which told me he was still abroad, and now he wasn't.

Sent a text to everyone including H and R and thank you to everyone for all the love and best wishes.

Fellow soldier's Mum due to have her boy back tomorrow.

Lots of thought and prayers for those not returning.

Thank you St Therese for taking my boy under your wing and thank you Lord for this day.

Speak soon. A soldier's Mum x

Sunday, 25 April 2010

Day 204 Week 29

Twenty-nine weeks. Can't believe it was so long ago that he went out. Twenty-nine weeks and over two hundred days.

The profundity of it all really has not sunk in and am just praying for some news, any news, but obviously the most desperately wished for is that he is safe and sound and back in the UK. But still nothing.

The bush-telegraph at home is well and truly activated and everyone keeping in touch with each other either via e-mail or phone but no one seems to know anything.

Think I might ring the regiment tonight.

Heard from H and he briefly said the US was fantastic but is concerned as his friend is unwell. H still not heard from the Navy re confirmation as to what they want to do with him, and so he may flukily be home next weekend, by when hopefully C might just have made it home too. R upstairs in recovery watching emergency Hollyoaks omnibus and actually being really sweet.

Fellow soldier's Mum hanging on to every minute too and nice new friend coming over after dropping his son off. Ankles still poo.

We're still praying Lord.

Speak soon. A soldier's Mum x

Saturday, 24 April 2010

Day 203 Week 28

Limbo. That's just what it is, limbo. A state of not knowing. Between the devil and the dark blue sea, as my Grandmother used to say. But in this case hopefully the devil is not as active as he has been in previous months.

Read the blog of the Officer Commanding 3 Rifles on the BBC website and it was simply awesome. That's a word that's bandied around with abandon these days but in this instant it is absolutely appropriate. He spoke with quiet dignity about the privilege it has been to work with, and obviously command, the men in his charge and he simply listed their names as a tribute to their courage and loyalty. And of course he could never forget those not returning or already home as a result of injuries sustained.

God bless them all and rest their souls where needed.

Realise to my shame, that yesterday was St George's day, and feel quite strongly that we should celebrate the same as the Irish, Scots and Welsh do their patron saint. Anything that unites us instead of dividing us can only be a positive, and we should celebrate the characteristics and traditions that are intrinsic within the finer aspects of 'Englishness'. This is the nation that spawned parliamentary supremacy over hereditary power, the rule of law and religious tolerance. And anyway Shakespeare was born and then went on to die on the twenty-third of April and as he rightly holds the mantle of being our national philosopher, that in itself is an excuse for a national blast. My mother used to tell me that if ever I was troubled or needed to understand how or why I felt something, then if I looked to the Bard I would find the explanation.

Am going to consult the complete works after this.

Heard from H and he's back in the UK and popped down to Brighton to see friends. Still doesn't know where the Navy want him to go and he hasn't heard from C. R gone up to town for an interview and hope it goes well for her. Fellow soldier's Mum and I are mirror images of each other and am just itching with anticipation that he could, actually, please God, be on his way home.

Please Lord can we have a happy ending.

Speak soon. A soldier's Mum x