Special Forces?

So I’m wrestling with a relatively new concept, that of my mind/memory having been shattered to some degree.  I was having a conversation with my father & he mentioned in passing about a particular friend from my past who apparently visited me at the hospital & brought me a rose there after my daughter (last child) was born in the late ’90’s.  I actually spoke with this lady at my niece’s wedding a couple weeks back & she recounted how instrumental I’d been in helping her through some tough times back when our kids were young.

I have Zero Memory of either of these events.

In some arenas my mind was practically a steel trap & was very strong.  Why do I have No Recall of events that were apparently pretty significant to others?

The thing that comes to mind is that I have been under tremendous stress & “trauma” over the years, perhaps to such a large degree that “mundane” or even significant events just didn’t register enough to imprint on my memory.

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When I look back on the past 2+ decades, ever since my special needs son came on the scene, it’s like the milestones of my journey are marked in Bold Headline Letters in relation to his surgeries, special ed battles, & hospitalizations.  The milestones for my other kids & husband are in smaller regular font & include vacations, stories (like hunting & other events), school, work, & sports, &/or family events, including extended family gatherings, like around holidays.  The milestones from my personal life are in fine print italics, perhaps even as footnotes, almost fading or falling off the page…

It’s like once special needs came into the picture everything else faded into background noise.  I went into “survival mode” & basically never came out of it.  Even now in a relative lull between (potential) storms it’s like I’m still waiting for the next call or event that is going to turn my/our world upside down.  I don’t even know how to live a “regular” life anymore.  It’s like I’m in a semi-hibernation mode between crises…

In the not-too-distant rear-view mirror would be the failed special ed battle to finally secure my son’s educational rights & ensure he actually received appropriate Transition Services, etc.  Slightly before that was a job layoff that had a personal hurtful component to it.  Immediately before that job, which only lasted a year & a half, was my son’s Liver Transplant.  The lead up to that surgery, over several years, was excruciating to me…

On the road ahead, though we have no idea which exit this will occur at, is my son’s anticipated 3rd Open Heart Surgery.  In a side-car is all the special ed baggage that begs organization &/or analysis so that I can attempt to structure some type of appropriate “transition/adult services” program for my son.  Some other future potential destination involves attempting to re-enter the workforce…

So I wonder if the analogy of “special forces” might loosely apply.  These warriors are called upon to perform dangerous, thankless, & sometimes off-the-books missions where they may willingly have to lay their lives down in service to their country.  Though they are highly trained & skilled I expect that they have little if any say as to when, why, where, or how a given mission is thrust upon them.  They may exist in a form of an “on-call status” where at any moment they can be again called upon to sacrifice for others.

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I had/have Zero Training for the “special–needs–forces”.  Raising a highly complex, including medically & behaviorally, child (now young man) is a dance of/with death–including dying to one’s self…Every step of the way is fraught with peril.  Each decision can have huge ramifications down the road.  We shape each of our kids by how we raise them & how we live our lives in front of them.  My “regular” kids needed the usual guidance of child hood, but my special son had so many more desperate & demanding needs.  Multiple times decisions over the years were truly life or death–& most of these choices we (my husband & I) faced in almost complete isolation.

Do these real Special Forces guys & gals have a hard time adjusting to “regular” life (whatever that means)?  Do they live for the next “on-call” moment where their blood & adrenaline stirs?  Do they crave the battle as they are each finely tuned weapons of war?

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As a special needs parent I really don’t recall many of the mundane aspects of life.  It’s like I floated from crisis to battle to crisis again & any down-time in between is a blur & a low-level hum–a buzz of far off machinery & long lost reminiscences.

Do warriors ever really get to come home?  Do they know how to live on the home-front after they’ve scaled the heights & plumbed the depths of the battlefield?  Strategizing, Executing, Adapting, Advancing, Retreating, Regrouping, Triaging, Engaging, Adjusting, Finalizing, Debriefing, Grieving…these are some of what actual Special Forces encounter.

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Once one has entered the fray, by choice or by necessity, does one ever really leave the battle?  I read a book some years ago about the WWII Battle for Tarawa.  The author, who was an embedded reporter with my birth-grandfather’s Marine unit experienced horrifying things over a few days, or possibly weeks.  He wrote his memoir many years later but said that Every Day He Woke Up He Was Still At Tarawa!!!

This was a man who Witnessed the battle but did not participate!  What about the warriors?  Did they too wake up every day to Tarawa (assuming they lived to wake up at all)?  Did they wake to even worse memories & scarring experiences?  Did they hold their heads high & relieve the “glories” of victorious battles or bow their heads in grief &/or shame over the depredations war inflicted on them & through them on others?

Can those opposing experiences/perspectives live simultaneously in one heart or mind.  Can the physical head be raised while the mental/emotional one hangs in hidden sorrow & shame (or vice versa)?  Does anyone else carry these questions?  Is my seeming “loss” of memory “normal” for having survived so many battles & having lived in & through such stress.  Can the Special-Needs-Forces warrior ever really go home or ever become a civilian again?

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I have no answers to these questions but just share them here for consideration.  Our lives are in God’s hands.  The Psalmist, King David, of ancient Israel was “a man after God’s own heart”, yet the Lord would not allow him to build Him a Temple because he was a man of war with much blood on his hands.  Instead he had his son, Solomon, born to Bathsheba–whose relationship to David began in adultery & murder–who became a man of peace & Wisdom yet still strayed from God’s path, build the Temple of God…

Can a warrior ever live in the internal peace of those innocents who’ve never experienced battle, never fought to the death?  Should it even be desired?  I offer no direct answers here but point to the One who knows the beginning from the end, the Alpha & Omega, the Lord of Hosts.  Someday we’ll see Him face to face & He’ll wipe every tear from our eyes & there will be no more death.

Until then, fight on, Good Soldier of Faith–Onward Christian Soldier & Special-Needs-Forces.  The battle is not yours but the Lord’s!

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6 thoughts on “Special Forces?

  1. Thank you Valerie for your battles and I’ve been inspired again when it seems I need God through your wise and heartfelt words.
    Our Lord the Living Spirit of Christ Jesus speaks to us through the suffering and softens our heart to pray for those in need.
    Yes, you are a special for Jason and so many others and it shows.
    God Bless you

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks so much T.I.M. for letting me know that you’ve again been touched by what I’ve shared. So many times I wonder if I’m just speaking to the wind or only to myself when I post something. It is a tremendous blessing to me to hear that even in a small way the Lord has reached out to you using my writing (even in the smallest way) as a conduit for that contact!

      Those many battles with/for/related to Josiah have been hard fought & fraught with confusion, pain, & isolation. What a blessing that the Lord can take all that messiness & somehow achieve some glory for Himself & some good for us in the sharing of each other’s burdens.

      I so appreciate your encouraging words to me directly & to so many others as your generous heart is frequently on display on the TreeHouse prayer pages…& at Stella’s Place too, I believe. I don’t always reply to you but every time I see a post by you you increase the joy in my heart! God Bless YOU today & always…

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Greetings Mrs. Curren!

    Yes, memory can be affected by stress, trauma, and other factors. Your questions have multiple answers, depending on the person who is asked. My wife’s godson buried his daughter last year: she suffered from a nightmare disease called Batten’s, which meant that her brain slowly died over a 10-year period, starting at age 2, and no cure is possible. He and his wife and their oldest daughter attained a kind of living sainthood because of this ordeal. As the younger daughter’s brain deteriorated, she lost speech, eyesight, hearing, control over her limbs, and eventually the autonomic systems failed.

    So of course the question is…why?

    The point is that this child’s tragedy became an opportunity to spread Love, capital “L”, among the community at large. They live in a very small Ohio village, if it can even be called that, and yet literally hundreds of people connected with each other to help: carnivals, fund-raisers, races, etc. were held throughout the year to support this heroic family.

    Why do such terrible things happen? In older days one might say because of Sin, but upon closer inspection and closer introspection, and when one understands the response of Christ in a similar situation, one understands the Divine Purpose more clearly.

    So, continued best wishes to you and your family! Your sacrifices are most exemplary!

    “Ausonius”

    .

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes…”upon closer inspection and closer introspection, and when one understands the response of Christ in a similar situation, one understands the Divine Purpose more clearly.” this is so true (& I was asking those questions rhetorically, not in any sort of crisis of faith)…

      What you shared about the godson’s family & battling Batten’s reminded me of a family at my kids’ high school that had 2 sons both battling Cystic Fibrosis. The older son was in Josiah’s class & was actually in-patient down the hall from J when J was in the immediate Post-Transplant course. I got to know the boys’ mom a bit & she shared about the brutality of CF & that neither son was given a life expectancy beyond 30…

      A year or so later the younger son was doing so poorly that he was being considered for a Liver Transplant & I once again got a brief front row seat to that family’s grief & trauma & shared insights from our experience with transplant during a chance meeting with the mom at the hospital.

      Tragically this young son died before transplant & it seemed like most of the HS of 2000 turned out on the same day we went to the viewing. This boy was only 14 when he died & bizarrely I was moved by the fact that the HS had given him an honorary diploma which was displayed with him in the casket (we’d had numerous Extremely Stressful battles with schools & special ed over the years)–this compassion by the school really touched me.

      Later there were numerous fundraisers for CF research spearheaded by the mom of those boys. This family didn’t even live in our city but attended school there by “schools of choice”. It was amazing to see the community outpouring of love, compassion, & effort to support them & the CF research cause.

      I think one of the reasons that God allows such special & challenging children to be born is so that we mundane humans can be at times challenged to rise above our self-focus. When we learn even in the smallest way to lay our lives down for another we are in effect incarnating Christ again.

      A society that kills such children in the womb or shortly after birth has not improved itself by attempting to lessen the existence/awareness of disease & disabling conditions. In fact such a society is committing a form of suicide of the soul by participating in such “murders”. I think scripture has said it best:

      John 9 New International Version (NIV)
      Jesus Heals a Man Born Blind
      9 As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth. 2 His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”

      3 “Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him.

      God’s strength is made perfect in weakness, He gives us beauty for ashes & the oil of joy for mourning & the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness!

      These are all great mysteries but also great blessings that He shares with us who might be tasked with seemingly burdensome lives & caring for those with special needs, etc.

      May the Lord be with your wife’s godson’s family in a special way. May he heal their hurting hearts & continue to provide blessings to them & others through the life & death of their precious little girl!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Yes, you describe articulately through your writing the human condition and so succinctly. Our warriors are trained and equipped with the highest technology and psychology to protect and defend with the most lethal techniques ever developer. But in a human way, sadly, they bring death swiftly. In most instances, there is no lingering pain…as there has been in previous wars fought by humans.

    You are suffering what I would call lingering pain. Your writing describes the constant battle, the ongoing psychological stress. But I don’t need to tell you after reading your entire blog.

    I had a brother with two special needs. Mental / physical handicap. Fortunately there were seven siblings who took care of him. We would switch off on the tasks – financial, educational, social, healthcare, employment, diet, clothes shopping – you know it all. He was able to live on his own until the age of 40 when he passed away. I was the one who found him when he didn’t show up for work one-day.

    His life taught me patience, compassion and most of all brotherly love. It was through his death that my spiritual life came into “being.”

    With regards to the military, there is “The Honor Foundation” which takes those career warriors — specifically, the Navy seals and Special Operations forces (https://www.honor.org/) – and moves them back into society / civilian life.

    Think about Cincinnatus who was the ultimate warrior/leader who went back to being a simple peasant farmer – well not really, but a supreme Statesmen on virtue! Sure, times were different but psychology was pretty much the same. (Lucius Quinctius or Quintius Cincinnatus was a Roman patrician, statesman, and military leader of the early Roman Republic who became a legendary figure of Roman virtues—particularly Roman manliness and civic virtue—by the time of the Empire.)

    My father was in WWII (Navy – Pacific), Grandfather in WWI (France- Meuse-Argonne), GGF in the Civil War, and three GGGGFs in the Revolutionary War. My dad and grandfather never talked about the atrocities of war. But certainly suffered from PTSD. Fortunately my daughter 1ST LT in USAR is working on her PsychD and hopefully (wants) to work with PTSD “warriors” after graduating.

    I feel your pain… keep writing, it may be your way of releasing stress. You are an excellent writer and could easily put together a book in eight months. It chronicles humanness!

    peace & blessings

    Liked by 2 people

    • Wow! I am truly honored & humbled by all that you have shared here. Thank you for reaching out also with a bit of your family tale. I’m going to take some time to digest what you’ve shared & write back more later.
      God Bless YOU & Yours!

      Like

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