Bye Bye Birdie

Tonight was a farewell dinner for my dear friend Maria who has been one of my strongest allies here in Baghdad. While becoming friends, she has mentored me and encouraged me listened to me and prayed with me. It is going to be an interesting season without her.

I made another good girlfriend when I first arrived and the three of us bonded quickly and spent a lot of time together. After the quickest 2 months of my life, Reagan’s tour ended and now Maria’s tour has ended.

I am hopeful that God will send me another friend to run to when I need to vent, someone to decompress with, someone I can confide in, and someone who makes me laugh.

Anyone? Any takers? It’s really fun here!!

Speaking of fun…tonight went to an Iraqi restaurant for dinner to celebrate Maria’s last night. As the fifteen of us were enjoying our time, talking and laughing WHOOMSHP

The most dreadful sound.

Every set of eyes around the table grew wide for a second.

And then, conversation continued.

My stomach had dropped to the floor, so as I took a deep breath, and looked at a friend who has recently arrived we locked eyes for a moment and I shared her alarm. I sat surrounded by friends and colleagues including armed service women and men who have lived through the worst here. In the spring, you couldn’t even walk outside the mortar attacks were so bad, so they’re more inured to the initial panic to which my body was reacting.

As I calmed my nerves with a deep breath and forced smile. My wide eyes gave me away. “Was that your first mortar?”
I said I had heard a car bomb in the distance my 2nd week here—“but not this close, huh?” and then the conversation continued and we went back to sipping chai.

You shake it off and life goes on. No matter what happens, you must shake it off and life goes on. Military members do it everyday, and I am grateful and in admiration every day for those who have protected our country and freedoms in the past and present. Some days, I pass so many in uniform I forget to tell them thank you. Please thank the ones you see back home for me. We’re at war and I live in the most targeted area in the world. They have instilled the peace that I am fortunate to enjoy and they deserve our best.

Let me tell you what a mortar sounds like. It sounds like the earth being sucked into itself and it carries with it the realness that you could’ve been sucked into the earth too. For an instant life stops and all you want to do is be next to the people you love the most and ensure that it is well with your soul.

So all this in an instant.

And of course I am fine, unscathed as was my party, but a mortar landing in the IZ is a reminder that it’s necessary to stay alert.

The peace is fragile here.

I appreciate your support and thoughts more than you will ever know.

And in case you are trying to call me, my 914- phone is gone. I have an international number that will cost you an arm and a leg unless you have a calling card and…can you even buy those anymore…?