(Written during Bryan’s first deployment in Afghanistan 2008)
I had gradually fallen asleep with the last thoughts on my mind being a whisper of a prayer to keep my boy safe. It had been months since I had spoken with him, but not a day had gone by that thoughts for his happiness and safety hadn’t been felt with every beat of my heart.
It was about 3AM when I heard him; the silence of the night disturbed by the voice that I had so longed to hear. His words were clear and strong, “Hey, ma…Ma!” Somewhat disoriented by the sound of his voice I awoke and turned to see him standing there at the side of my bed. A feeling of relief and shear joy filled my heart. “Bry, how are you?” I asked, “Are you ok?” “Yeah, Ma, I’m just tired… really tired.” “Can I lay down?”, pointing to the other side of the bed.
He was dressed in his drab green t-shirt and camouflage pants; one’s I had only seen in pictures of him that were posted on-line from his Forward Operating Base in Afghanistan a few weeks back.
“Sure, Bry” I responded, as I was just so caught up in the pleasure of seeing him. I never even thought to ask why. He did one of his flying leaps over me and landed to my left and sprawled face down with his head on the pillow. “I am so tired” he said again. I could see the weariness in his eyes. ” Is it okay if I sleep here?” Nothing came to mind to ask, only feeling the joy of having him right there next to me, and a the need to ease his weariness.
“Mom, can you rub my back?” was a question I had heard hundreds of times over the years. Bryan had always enjoyed spending the last minutes of the day talking to me about his concerns and dreams, while I massaged his back and listened to his stories.
As I started to knead his back, I noticed how much he had grown since the last time we enjoyed this shared ritual. You could see and feel the strength of his shoulders now through his t-shirt.
As I rubbed his back I wondered about all that he has seen and done in these past 2 years, but mostly as he trained for and made his way to a remote base in Afghanistan where daily he has been carrying his heavy pack and his machine gun on long and treacherous missions for days at a time.
As the minutes passed by, thoughts of stories shared, flashed through my mind. Memories, one after another of the best of times spent over the years….memories of my happy go lucky, charming and funny boy who was always up to something, who had grown into such a good and extraordinary young man…I smiled, I chuckled…God, I love my boy!
I was beginning to notice that I was getting tired again. I caught myself nodding off a few times, but continued to rub his back, just enjoying every moment, feeling the same love that I did the first time I held him in my arms.
The light peeped through the window. What time could it be…I thought to myself as I slowly opened my eyes. A deep sadness settled over me like a wave. Bryan was no longer there. I looked around the room, the door was closed and there was silence in the house. The realization that he hadn’t actually been there and that this was only a dream, started to sink in.
It had been three months since I had seen him and probably six until I would again, but God had brought him to me, even if only in a dream. I got to spend a few special moments with my boy, who I missed so much. It was not only a dream, it was the perfect blessing.