There are really few times when I am rendered speechless. Even in this situation, I'm not so much speechless as I am awestruck. Because of this, I have struggled more than a couple of days to complete this post to let you know about the Quilt of Valor's last leg of its journey. I may be breaking my old teacher rule to "show don't tell" this story, but like I said, I'm really a loss for words...sort of.
The simple idea to be a part of an organization that wants to offer some comfort to soldiers has melded into something on a scale I can't comprehend just yet. Yes, this foundation did start as a small idea from an individual and has mushroomed to reach so many. It would be so cool to such a "mustard seed." We can all names such beginnings: Race for Cure, TOM Shoes....
But I am really getting away from my point. This small idea to help a soldier may have been spurred by the QOV Foundation, but my solitary motions triggered even more actions by others not even associated with the initial program.
Once I finished my quilt, I wanted to make sure that I made a personal connection, so I asked my brother (a retired Army Colonel) if he had any ideas. He gave me a name of a Colorado Guard chaplain. Through emails and facebook messages, I eventually reached her.. I trusted this young chaplain to find a recipient. She took it to several co-chaplains, and how the name was chosen was out of my hands. But in those few remaining days, my family was met with a grandmother's death and so too the chaplain experienced the same loss. Responsibilities of such events over and above this small mission created a break in the process. This just had to take a backseat. Even so, the machinations were still spinning to completion. The details were sketchy, erratic and by the morning of 9/11 I thought the final delivery might not happen as I planned. I tried to soften the disappointment with the idea that I at least met my goal to have it ready on that day. (You can read my other QOV posts about why the date held more than the obvious reason.)
At literally "the 11th hour" I reached SSG May's wife through email. I think she must have recognized my desperation (or was it obsession?) to get this to her husband that day.. How trusting! She sent me directions to her house.
I'm not going to go into Marty's story to tug your heart strings and make you feel bad that you're feeling sorry for yourself. He's the first one to admit there are many worse off than himself. I don't want to start a "his story is worse than your story" tug of war. His experience is not much different than any soldier injured in a theater of war, but the details of his story are unique to him. However, it's his willingness to plod on to whatever his unknown future holds, with not only his own strength, but also to hang on tightly to those who stand by him; in this case, his wife Wendy and his 3 children. He is a symbol of so many, yet I can't shake that he is just an individual, an THAT is just as important.
We visited for over and hour in their kitchen, listening and connecting. Three strangers left as friends. We "friended" each other on Facebook, and I received one special message that Marty was curled up on the couch wrapped in his quilt in the waning colder morning hours, "silently going out of his mind" waiting for the email that would determine his "rating" with the VA and the Army that could sink or keep afloat an uncertain future for him and his family.
We will always live in a world of doubt, global unrest, indifference, family grief, economical woes, bureaucratic red tape. The media is bereft with such problems. We all experience them in our daily lives. As we peel away that onion of life (my sweet brother's analogy) we meet individuals and make a tiny connection of commonality. This is the core of our existence...what's important. At least I think that is the reason for my awe in the experience. The quilt was just the catalyst; meeting Martin and Wendy May was the result that matters. The realization that working with a string of unknown individuals can create a special moment for another. That magic maze of humanity circles right back to the beginning and sends currents of change to everyone involved. What a blessing to us all to have the ability to experience this connection to each other! I wish you all happy connections!