One week after my husband deployed my little boy amputated the upper portion of his index finger on his dominant hand. The moments that followed were full of searching (literally searching for the missing finger), a visit to the less than near emergency room, a helicopter ride, a surgery, and really the rest is Murphy engulfed history. My mind was not really a place of hopeful logic during the hours that followed. I hesitantly waited for the despair to hit, the overwhelming emptiness to consume the “ survival mode shock.” I was alone.
As soon as I reached the hospital that was nearly 4 hours away via helicopter, from my family whom I was visiting when the accident occurred, a nurse told me there were two people waiting to see me in the waiting room. I looked at her like a child who had just been tricked into thinking it was Christmas when really it was only June. “I’m alone,” I told her, “my family has to be at least three hours behind,” and then I saw them. My Brother-in-law a decorated veteran, appeared in the hospital doorway along with his wife. They lived an hour away and though I hadn’t called anyone somehow they found out, and jumped in their car immediately to meet me. They understood. They showed up for me, and that made all the difference.
During WWII Strasburg Germany was the target of a series of fierce bombing strikes. After the smoke and fear subsided, the people of Strasburg rose from the ashes to find that a beloved statue of Christ had been destroyed. Master craftsmen used their skills and tools to reconstruct the statue to the best of their ability but a particular portion was damaged beyond repair, the hands. Rather than mourning the loss of a significant and no doubt distinct section of such a symbolic monument, the German people did something incredible. With new perspective molded by recent events the villagers engraved the phrase, “you are my hands,” near the base of the statue. A phrase that reminded them of the reason in which they survived, a rallying hope to rebuild, and at most a now necessary element of life- service.
As a collective, military spouses are renowned in our efforts to unite in cooperative efforts. I daresay we are used to the “mission first,” mentality- but that also means we are well acquainted with that ever irking feeling of loneliness…until someone shows up for us.
In the days after arriving home from the hospital I woke up one morning in a panic because I had forgotten it was trash day-again. I rushed outside only to realize that my trash cans were already placed next to the the road waiting to be picked up. I also noticed a yellow balloon tied to my door handle. I brought the balloon inside to give it to a little boy with 9 ½ fingers whose face beamed at its sight. I later learned that the balloon had been placed there by woman I knew, but not well. A few days prior to our accident, her son had also been involved in much larger scale accident. Her son had accidentally fallen off a cliff while riding a dirt bike…breaking many bones in his body, and astonishing all by just surviving. She, this woman who had clearly been through more than I had, showed up for me…and people continued showing up for me.
That year was rough. There was that time when my baby had surgery and I came home to a fresh meal on my table. Or the time when my little girl broke her arm, yet that seemed to slip her memory as soon as she saw the stickers someone had left for her under my doormat. The service continued. People continued to show up for me. They ate cereal with me for dinner. They drank gallons of soda with me. These angels, their hands, they embraced me, they pulled me in. They are my village.