My brother leaves for Iraq later this month and before he does, he is spending a week with us in PA. I have been thinking about how to prepare Jesse for his Uncle Bucky's departure and the door was opened for me the other night.
I was watching a TV program on wounded soldiers after the kids had gone to bed. I am still not sure why I put it on in the first place but I thought I would watch just a little bit to understand some of what my brother would be facing. Jesse came downstairs and saw me watching it. Normally I would have paused it so he couldn't see it but thought that maybe this would be a good opportunity to open up dialogue. And it did. "Why do those men not have legs?" "What happened to his arm?" I suppose some would argue that he is too young to see images like that and I still question whether it was the right thing (they weren't bloody images, just soldiers doing PT at an army hospital). But I was able to explain that these men lost their legs because they were fighting a war in Iraq and Afghanistan, they were protecting us and our country from bad guys. It was so hard for me to find the right words to explain it, I don't even fully understand it myself. Then I explained that Uncle Bucky is going over to Iraq to protect us from the bad guys and that is why he will be visiting us soon. Immediately he was concerned, "Will Uncle Bucky lose his legs?" I responded, "I hope not. We can always pray and ask God to protect Uncle Bucky while he is there." There were alot more questions and alot more answers I'm not sure fully appeased him and the questions came for days (this is how my little guy processes everything!).
Then a few days ago at breakfast he said, "Mom, last night before I went to bed I prayed and asked God to protect Uncle Bucky when he is at war." My eyes still tear up when I think about it. Such hard, heavy stuff for a four year old to process, I wish I could protect him from it all. But, I see in my little guy a faith forming and it warms my heart and encourages my own weak faith. And so we entrust Uncle Bucky to God, and all those who are serving there now and pray that He will use this raw, hard time to bring us closer to Him.
A baby Jesse chewing on Uncle Bucky's dog tags.