When Jason was stationed in South Korea, he became friends with Rodolfo "Rod" Rodriguez; with that name how could he have any other nickname, right? They were both Captains in the Civil Engineering squadron. Unlike Jason and I, Rod's wife Caryn was there with him. I got to visit Jason twice (for a month each time) during that year and Rod and Caryn had us over for a dinner party. Even before I met them it had become kind of a joke that they were the exact opposite of Jason and I; Caryn was the loud, boisterous, life of the party (like Jason), while Rod was the quiet, reserved, more grounded (like me) half of the seemingly mismatched but balanced pair. I remember looking at a scrapbook that had a hidden photo and Caryn's funny story about it. They'd been snorkeling and Rod kept following her around with an underwater camera and poking her; slightly annoyed, she decided to really give him something to take a picture of and mooned him, hence the photo hidden in a panel under another more innocuous picture. Listening to her tell the story and watching their interaction as she did, I could see so much about their relationship; full of love and fun and bantering. The four of us had a lot in common and a lot to talk about.
Yesterday Jason got a call. One of those calls that as soon as you pick up the phone you know it's bad news.
Recently Rod was deployed to Pakistan to train Pakistani troops. He was in the Marriott Hotel in Islamabad on Saturday when a terrorist drove a truck filled with explosives up to the hotel and detonated it, killing at least 57 people and wounding 200+ more. Rod was one of the 57.
Jason and I have been awash in emotion since finding out. Sadness. Relief that Jason is out of the military. Guilt. Frustration. Anger. Thankful that we are still part of the informal military network and got the call. Confusion. Anxiety. Hopelessness. Sadness, sadness, sadness, sadness.
There are so many thoughts running through my head, things too big for me; this war, this election, our friends in the military, on and on and on. I don't know the answers; I don't even know all the questions. My favorite author Anne Lamott says that the two best prayers she knows are, "Help me, help me, help me," and "Thank you, thank you, thank you." I've been saying lots of both, but I've simplified it to "Help, help, help, help." Help Caryn, who is in Germany where she and Rod were stationed when he was deployed; most likely she will have to move back home now, leaving the support network she has in Germany. [Edited to add: she was able to get base sponsorship from the school where she teaches, so she doesn't have to leave.] My heart continues to break for her. Help Caryn's friends and family to be what she needs now. Help Rod's family, his coworkers, his friends. Help the families and friends of all the people killed in this attack. Help all of the people injured in this blast; help the doctors and nurses caring for them, help their families and friends. Help the media who have such an impact on the world's view of this war. Help people who have become so desensitized to this war that they gloss over every headline declaring more people dead, and help those who feel those same headlines so acutely they forget to breathe as they search for names, hoping not to see one they recognize. Help our military and the families that support them. Help soften the hearts of militants. Help our country's leaders. Help the world's leaders.
Help, help, help, help. Thank you, thank you, thank you.