Friday, June 13, 2008

The Little Things In Life

Well, I was given order by “General Mom” that I better get another post up on here soon. Since then, I have been thinking about what I should write about and I thought it at breakfast while I was griping to my Private First Class McCollough and then I get to work and “General Dad” called and I lost my entire train of thought. The train went into a tunnel and got stuck and it is messing up the entire supply of thought. It all started with an email to my mom asking for an attorney that would be willing to help me from here. I want/wanted an attorney that will help me ensure that I have all the time I can. I was all for this until my dad called and said he talked to my old attorney, who said she would be more than willing to help me. Now, I am not so sure that is what I want to do. I had decided I was going to be strong and put Christina out of my life for good this time and get more time with my precious little angel. After dad called I called Christina and tried to talk to her about all this and all she said was she promises I would have all the time she could give me. I also told her my parents would be able to have more time with Courtney and I wanted her to make that happen on her own without us having to spend money on attorneys. All she would do was say that would do the best she could and now she has to call her attorney and ask for advice. All I wanted from her was for her to love me and follow me wherever the army sent me. That was too much to ask and I am determined to find someone that is willing to do that. I know that I can, but it is hard to give up ten years of your life. I am really worried about letting someone else be part of Courtney’s life and it hurts me even more to think that someone will take my place in Christina’s life and try to be a father to Courtney. If I could get past that part, I would be OK. That is the only thing that is stopping me from making a decision and actually doing it. It will be hard for me to do, but I know that if I want to be happy, I have to do it. Christina and I fight all the time and she is showing no support or love to me. People that I barely know show more love and support than someone that I have loved for nearly ten years.

I guess that is enough of my personal struggles that are making life really hard on me. I am finding comfort elsewhere, but that is not ready to be discussed yet. Those involved in it, know and that is the important part.

I am going to try and go back to the original idea for this post:


When you woke up this morning, what was the temperature in your room? Was above or below 90 degrees? Were you wearing what you wanted to wear or were you stripped down as far possible just so you were cool enough to get a little sleep?

When you got ready to take a shower did you grab a flashlight so you could see and not kick oversized rocks on the way down the hall to the shower? Did you walk five minutes with that flashlight to your shower in pitch black darkness, outside? Did you break a sweat getting there? When you walked into the shower did you see twenty other guys taking a shower (OK ladies, no comments on how you wish)? When you turned on the water, did the smell of the water remind you of the milk room in your grandfather’s barn? Did smell make you think you needed another shower to get rid of the smell? When you got done showering and went to shave and brush your teeth, were you bumping elbows with the guy next to you because the sinks are so close together? Did you walk five minutes back to your room in the dark so you could ready for breakfast?

Did you walk ten minutes to breakfast with a seventeen pound M16 on your shoulder? I am willing to bet you ate whatever you wanted or got in the car drove to the fast food place on the way to work. When you got ready to eat, did you have to wait twenty minutes until it was your turn? Did you decide what you wanted from the stock in your cabinets or were you given a small selection of nothing that sounded good? When you finally sat down did you have to open your silverware out of plastic? Did you check to make sure there was a plastic spoon, fork and knife, or was there something missing? Did you eat off of a paper tray? Did you drink milk that has a shelf life one year? Was your orange juice the same way? Was the box/carton/jug in English or Arabic? Did I have a huge supply of cereal to choose from? Sure, but often can you eat cereal not get tired of it?

When you decided it was time for dinner, did you wait late enough that you had to choose between sleeping and eating? When you sat down to eat, did you have a sharp knife to cut your meat or were you using a plastic knife that would barely cut and give and eat with your finger? Were the mash potatoes real or instant? Was the gravy real or instant?

How many times in your life have you read a report and seen pictures of a vehicle being blown up? How many times did read about three out of four people dying? Did you say a prayer? Did you remind the church to keep them all on the prayer list? Did you thank God for the sacrifice? Did you imagine what it would be like to be that family member who just lost a loved one? How did you cope with it? Forget about it? Dwell on it? Talk about it? Or was it just another day at work?

When the fallen soldier was being driven down the rode in his casket, did you have a tear in your eye, or where you complaining that you lost a little sleep? Did you proudly render that brother his last salute or was it just a formality? Do you have a board next to your desk with every fallen comrade listed out next to your desk to remind you every day of why you are doing what you do?

Did you remain positive no matter how bad things were and how stressed you were? Did you go to sleep last night worried about the father from north with two kids, a wife, mother and father who was killed/lost a leg/arm/eye or his life? Did you worry about the family he left behind to serve his country? Did you worry about the four year old who does not have a father now? Are you going to tell him his dad was a hero because he did saving his brother in arms? Are you going to answer the phone and be put on the spot when the Department of the Army calls with the father listening while they ask about his nineteen year old soon and you tell him he lost both legs? What do you say to the father who suddenly starts sobbing? How do you tell him he is alive another day but will never walk again?

How often do you seek challenges in your life? Here is a challenge. The next time you stop for fast food, do not go where you want. Go somewhere out of the way and when you order, get out of the car and go inside. Wait in the longest line and when you get to the counter tell them to surprise you. Do not choose what you want. Tell them your friend/mother/father/son/daughter/spouse is overseas and you are doing in tribute to them. Take what you get and eat it and be happy. Sit down with a complete stranger and talk about anything. Can you do it? I do it almost everyday.

How often during the day do you call a loved one? I am willing to bet you call on the way to work and/or on the way home, although you will be there in a few minutes. Today, do not call ANYONE. Call no one. Do not answer the phone. Change your voicemail to say you are taking a day not talking to family in honor of all the soldiers here who are stuck in the middle of nowhere and can only call once a week. The next day, only talk positive and tell them how much they mean to you and how much you love them. On the same day, do the same with email/myspace or what ever it is you use to communicate on the internet. Some soldiers rarely have access to such a luxury. When you stop at the gas station and pick up your favorite snack and drink, buy one for a soldier. When you have enough, mail it to a soldier you do not know. If you need some one to mail it to, ask some one and they will know someone who is out there getting shot at every day and could use the moral boost.

I am not bitter, I am proud. Am I having bad days? Damn right. You do and I am no different. Are mine worse? No. Do I feel like I am the only one that is wrestling issues on my own? Never. Do admit I am having a hard time? Everyday. Do I seek guidance? Yes. That are what parents, brothers, and friends are for. That is what God is for. Do I give advice to my friends? Yes. Do I heed my own advice? Rarely. Do I seek strength and guidance? Everyday. Am I asking for prayers of strength, wisdom and courage? You bet!

I am not bitter I am here. I could not be prouder of why I am here. If you want a little history of what I do, search for the history of military awards and it will point you to Napoleon. I encourage you to read the history of that and of the Medic. Jeremy is saving the lives I am reading about everyday.

Am I safe like I was in Kuwait? NO! I cannot explain, but there have been shooting stars, and little pieces of metal flying at us. Can’t forget about the “tunnel rats” either.

Life here is not easy for anyone. When there is a package that comes with pictures and articles of home, everyone knows about it. Someone left a comment asking about what we want and the address. The address will be below and here is a list of some things that I am wanting: pringle stix (NOT the chips, I hate them), orange mint lifesavers, beef jerky (thanks for the homemade Joe and Marie), letters, pictures, fans, encouragement, prayers, strength and support, and hard candy.

We all seek that encouragement that can only come from home. We also seek reassurance for those difficult decisions we have to make that will affect our lives for a long time to come.

Until next time, God bless you all and keep us all safe.

John Strader

CJTF-101, CJ1

APO AE 09354



Anonymous said...

What a wonderful post! While I can't relate to having someone else be a parent to my child, I can relate to loving someone completely for ten years only to end up wondering if it ever meant anything to them. I wish you the best of luck, safety and God's protection. Thank you so much for all that you do to keep us safe! You are truly an american hero.

MOM said...

Super job of putting it into a visual picture of our minds of reality........ did that make sense??
My prayers are with you both and everyone else as well.
A fan ...... hmmm
Are you out of lifesavers??
Pringle stix ??

love ya

Anonymous said...

I left the message about your posting. You were right. You don't know me. We've never met. It just touched my heart. I truly do thank you for all that you do. I have the requests from both of you and your addresses. You will receive something from our Sunday School class soon. Take care of yourself out there and stay safe. Hurry home to your family. It sure sounds like they miss you guys terribly.