I forgot tomorrow was July 4th

Last week we came home from vacation and I was so desperate to make my overdue newspaper deadline for tomorrow’s paper (not actually checking the date) that I submitted some stupid story about snails. SNAILS. It’s the fourth of July, I’m surrounded by heroes and what do I come up with? Snails. Disgusting.

Today I sat across from one of my good friends as we worked furiously on a sewing project and talked about her life. A few weeks ago their family received the shocking news that her husband was getting called to action–sent to Kabul, Afghanistan to deploy. It wasn’t your typical deployment, this baby came down with his name specifically on it and it was hot. Not the kind of place you’d want your children’s father to serve.

I can’t tell you the heartache and turmoil this call brought their beautiful family. I’ve seen a lot of assignments come through our crowd and watched a lot of women bravely send their soldiers off to fight, but it’s not often that the men who leave have six children at home and get a one way ticket to the danger zone. It’s not that she’s unwilling to do their part it’s that the danger to sacrifice ratio for this job is pretty darn high. To take a guy who’s spent his entire career behind a safe desk and plunk him in the middle of a war zone with a mere two weeks of weapons training…terrifying for all of them.

Sending a loved one off to fight is a mind game. You have to be prepared to hear That News, the news that only comes from a Commander who pulls up in a numbered car in front of your house and knocks on the door. Today we talked about her five step plan for handling That News, should the awful day ever come. I’m telling you, this girl is faithful and hardcore supportive of her husband and this country. But no one wants to see that car, no one wants to hear those words. It happens every day. Four families here, five families there. Numbered cars bring pain and loss.

We got about three steps into her plan before we couldn’t talk about it anymore. Step one, call the neighbor to take her kids. Step two, call me to come and hold her up. Step three, think of a way to tell the kids…and suddenly we couldn’t talk about it anymore and found ourselves overcome with a serious craving for ice cream. Just thinking about it was painful for my imagination, my mind kept skirting around how a mother handles that. Like she said, “I’m not that woman who will take the news with a brave face. I will crumble to the ground, it will utterly destroy me.”

And that is the kind of emotional weight the men and women who fight for our country handle every single day. Men and women who leave their families, put their lives on the line for the person standing behind them, we don’t hear much about it in the news because it’s more than we can take. Reading about the firefighters who lost their lives this week reminded me of all the men and women who are losing their lives in pursuit of justice every single day. I honor them. I honor their families. I pray for their safe return.

Tonight I sat in the movie theater trying to distract myself from watching “World War Z” (because I have a love/hate relationship with zombies and was feeling freaked out). In an effort to not wet my pants or break Jason’s thumb I pulled out my phone (yes, I’m that person) and checked my messages. And what did I find?

Her husband is hours away from leaving for his pre-deployment training. Yesterday, while standing at the kitchen sink, my darling friend begged and pleaded with the Lord for Him to spare her husband, that if at all possible he could remain with his family, be here to give his oldest son the priesthood in a few months, serve where his service would be of the most value–but only if it was the Lord’s will. She told him, “Lord, you’ve got 40 hours to turn this around and keep my husband here. Please…don’t take our father from us.”

Tonight her husband was stuck in the office, the last man out. And just before he left his orders came through. The deployment has been cancelled. End of discussion.

There are so many ways soldiers can serve. I believe that the role they play in our communities both at home and abroad, the example soldiers set and the code of conduct they follow has the power to influence lives. This man, he is a good man. One of the best I’ve ever met. I have no doubt that his influence in the home will be as powerful a force as anything he could do in the war zone. He’s got four little boys, they need their dad. Being a father is a special kind of soldier.

God protects our soldiers. We should pray for them today, pray for all of them. Pray that they can make it home to the ones they love in safety, the sooner the better. I am so grateful for this little miracle on the fourth of July, this tender mercy.

God bless America, and God bless the men and women who fight for us.