Alice was terrified when Joey told her he was going to Iraq. He might just as well have told her he was going to try jumping off the Empire State Building to see if he could fly. When he was a little boy he was always saying things like that to her, trying to scare her. “I’m going to go play in traffic now, Mommy,” he’d say. Or, “I’m going to ride my bike on the subway tracks.”
Jeff, Alice’s asshole of an ex, was thrilled to hear Joey had signed up, and if he had any misgivings about their son sticking his head into the mouth of a lion he never let on. The prick was so obsessed with himself that he probably thought it reflected well on him to have a son with such courage. The sick thing to Alice was that he was right; it did reflect well on him.
September 5, 2013 – a date which will live in infamy. That was the day that the two young men in their dress greens performed ‘the notification.’ It was all by-the-book. They even said, “we regret to inform you that your son was killed in action.” Just like in the movies. They said other things too but she couldn’t hear them over the ringing in her ears. They told her later that one of them had caught her just before her head hit the floor.
Alice thought of a line from a Bob Dylan song: “Some things are too terrible to be true.” Unfortunately, it doesn’t mean they’re not true. Some things cannot be comprehended. Some things cannot be integrated. Some things cannot be overcome. The call her a Gold Star Parent now, like she aced some kind of test. Maybe she did.