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Mothers Always Know


I've come to the conclusion that Macbeth is innocent of the charge of having murdered sleep. No, the real culprit is the Army, as I discovered on my younger son's first deployment to Iraq. I rediscovered it on the second, but it's the third that almost did for me--and a lot of others, too.

Mark had been gone for about four months, and I had no idea where he was. Telephone communication was spotty at best, and for reasons of security he was limited to telling me things such as he was okay. It didn't help, either, that the calls were dropped with more regularity than celebrity spouses.

I woke up one night from a dreamless sleep with a shoulder that was hurting like crazy and the worst feeling of foreboding that I think I've ever experienced. I told my husband about it, but he brushed it off, as usual. He deals very much in the concrete rather than the abstract--give him an engine to work on and he can figure it out, just don't bother him with anything so nebulous as a feeling so bad it makes you cry.

I knew, at some level, that something was very wrong, and that my deployed son was involved in it.

I shared this feeling with some of my friends, all of them women. Over the years it's been my experience that women, as a rule, are more open to accepting things that defy logic.

For the next two days, I was in a pretty keyed-up state. I'd feel very anxious whenever the phone rang, and was beginning to wonder just what was ailing me. I couldn't get rid of that feeling for any consideration.

On Wednesday morning the other shoe finally dropped.

I got a call from the young woman that we all hoped my son would eventually marry (long and sad story there). She had few details, but said Mark had called her to let her know that a rocket had gone through the wall of his barracks. He'd asked her to make sure to tell me that he was okay and that he'd try to call me later.

When he was finally able to call me himself, he said that there were no fatalities and only four men were injured. The worst was the man in the bed right next to him, who had lost both legs. This shook Mark up pretty badly for a couple of reasons: first, the man had just returned--literally--from R&R leave (rest & relaxation, for those unfamiliar with military jargon) the day before and had been back less than 24 hours. Second, Mark had asked if he could switch beds with him, and the other man declined.

Then Mark mentioned something else.

"While it was going on," he said, "I was really focused--I saw the blood and smelled it but it didn't freak me out--all I remember thinking at the time is 'Where can I put a tourniquet?' but a couple of other guys were controlling the bleeding already. Then I accounted for the men who weren't there, and they were safe. After the injured had been evacuated I made my report."

"THEN--Mom, it was too weird. I started having flashbacks--not of the attack, but of the day you were almost murdered. It hit me then why I felt so calm--I'd seen and smelled blood before, so it didn't spook me as badly as it did some of the other guys. Having gone through something like that before steadied me, but I didn't know why at the time. I never thought I'd have cause to be grateful for the tragedies of my childhood!" (Further details on this can be found in my post "Spooky Neighborhood 2: The Bad Luck Token")

When I told my friends this sequel to the wake up I'd received a few nights previously, one of them simply nodded and said, "I know--it's the same way with me and my kids. Mothers ALWAYS know."

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The following comments are submitted by users of this site and are not official positions by Please read our guidelines and the previous posts before posting. The author, libertybelle, has the following expectation about your feedback: I will read the comments and participate in the discussion.

ChrisB (6 stories) (1515 posts)
15 years ago (2009-02-10)
Oh thank you for the email Christy. Well I'm glad that Mark is home and safe. I'm happy for you and his family.-Well let's hope he tries doing what he realy likes and let's say that I hope he gives uncle sam a break 😆.Its a very brave job and every mother would be proud of there son. But at the same time every mother couldn't sleep during that time right? Well let's hope he changes his job 😉.I hope to hear from you soon and take care
ChrisB (6 stories) (1515 posts)
15 years ago (2009-02-09)
Hi Christy! Thank you for sharring this story with us. I realy enjoyed reading it. But something is bothering me.Well,bothering isn't the right word but haven't you posted this story already? I swear I Think I read this story! And it sure was an amazing story! I'm positive that I commented on it too. But then again I realy might be going nuts 😆.MAybe a deja vi? Well I enjoyed reading it and I hope mark comes home soon. I'm sure he misses you and loves you all. Thanks again. I hope to hear from you soon and take care
SmokeyKnight (3 stories) (193 posts)
15 years ago (2009-01-30)
Liberty, I would just like to thank you for this amazing story.

And for everyone else, I'd like to reiterate the importance of a strong relationship between parents and children alike.
libertybelle (14 stories) (207 posts)
15 years ago (2009-01-26)
As always, thank you for all the feedback. I can always count on being understood when I post these things here--and if there's any confusion, I readily take responsibiity for not always writing clearly when I recall these things.

DA, as always, I appreciate your comments. Mark has been home for almost a year now, and has found an art form that's giving his creative side what the Army can't provide, as well as a little extra income, too. He's learning tatooing from a local ink artist, and I think it's proving therepeutic for him as well. He's still on active duty, but this gives him an outlet during his down time. I can also empathize with your plight--it's never easy to send a loved one into danger. I grew up around the military and learned pretty early in the game that you smile and save the tears for after they've gone. It never gets any easier, though.

MunstersBabe, I saw on your profile that you're from the Tar Heel state, too. I wasn't born here, but have spent most of my adult life in southeastern North Carolina. You're right--Mark is almost 27, but he's still my baby!

Jessica, the attempted murder occurred over Memorial Day weekend in 1989, when Mark was only seven years old. As Devious Angel pointed out, the post Spooky Neighborhood: The Bad Luck Token gives some of the details.

SmokeyKnight, I'm sure that you can understand how it must have felt for a GI in that situation. There's a special bond that combat veterans share, no matter what war they may have fought in, that the rest of us can never fully understand. It doesn't matter of you fought at Normandy, Pork Chop Hill, Khe Sanh, Kuwait, or Baghdad, you feel that anyone who's experienced that stress and hell is like your brother. My husband agrees with that--he was in the Air Force for 20 years and never knew what it was like to have to shoot at someone or be shot at, so he sometimes feels a little at a loss when dealing with those who have. You all have my deepest respect and admiration, because wars are never begun by the people who have to fight them.

Kecoughtan, I can always count on you to contribute to the discussion. I guess--and I think recent studies bear me out--that women, as a rule, handle that kind of stress better than men do. Don't ask me why--I guess we're hard-wired that way. It isn't easy for anyone who has someone he or she loves at the front, man or woman. I know that just going through the usual daily routine had an almost anesthetizing effect that seemed to make it a little easier.

AmberMoonPriestess, I'm very interested in learning your story. Mothers and their children share a special bond that I sometimes think only other mothers can fully appreciate.

Again, to everyone, thank you for your comments.

Love, Peace, and Joy!
AmberMoonPriestess (15 stories) (158 posts)
15 years ago (2009-01-26)
i too have experienced a similar incident with my youngest son tho it didn't turn out near as well as your did.

I will be posting the experience when I get it finished.
Kecoughtan (1 stories) (211 posts)
15 years ago (2009-01-26)
Thank you for sharing this incredibly intense and personal experience with us, libertybelle. I, for one, am glad that moms everywhere are in tune with the ambiguity of emotions and looking out for we sons! I am happy that your son was not in the other bunk and to hear that he acquitted himself so well.

I really appreciated SmokeyKnight's posting about your bravery and calmness through the time of uncertainty. I am currently re-reading Vera Brittain's "Testament of Youth" about her experiences during the First World War. I am always struck by how women gracefully and courageously endure untold emotional stress all the while holding the househhold together, working, and keeping life as normal as possible. Waiting and not knowing would have made me a wreck.
SmokeyKnight (3 stories) (193 posts)
15 years ago (2009-01-26)
Wow, that's nuts. I've done a tour to Iraq, and it was intense. I am glad your son was OK. I don't know that I could have been so brave and calm in that situation. I hope all is well with your son, he sounds like a good guy.

I've heard of similar situations, where a parent (most often the mother) feels some sort of pain before or at the time of an injury. I don't remember specifics, but I remember it was a trip hearing about it.

DeviousAngel (11 stories) (1910 posts)
15 years ago (2009-01-26)
Jessica, what didn't you understand? I thought it was pretty clear. The author provides a link to her other story explaining what happened to her.

JessicaWishon1989 (6 stories) (57 posts)
15 years ago (2009-01-26)
I really didn't understand this! Its like the story is mixed up! So you were almost murdered? Thats the part I did not understand! 🤔
MunstersBabe (10 stories) (32 posts)
15 years ago (2009-01-26)
Mothers do indeed know when their children are hurt or need help. This story attests to the bond between mother and child and that no matter how older they get, they will always be your baby.

What a wonderful story. Tell your son that we thank him for protecting our country.
DeviousAngel (11 stories) (1910 posts)
15 years ago (2009-01-26)
My goodness, that is inSANE.

I'm so sorry to hear about the injured ones. Please, when you speak to your son again, let him know that some woman he's never met really, really appreciates his service. My fiance is in the Army too and he came home from his service in Iraq just over a year ago. He, too said it was pretty hellish, and he lost a very good friend there to an IED. I can't even imagine being in your son's position. It's a good thing he was able to buckle down and think quickly, and the part about him switching beds... That is just crazy. Someone was watching over him, that's for sure.

There's a strange connection that mothers share with their children on a level much greater than intellectual and emotional. Somehow, mothers really do know when something has happened to their children. I'm so sorry to hear about your situation too... I can't imagine what it must have been like to live through what you did.


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