So people always say don't ask "what if" or live life on "what if's", but honestly, that's difficult to live by (well for me anyway).
I wonder all the time about some what if's and decided I would answer some of my own questions to the best of my ability. However, to explain, this is me trying to convince myself of these answers and sometimes putting it in writing helps put things into perspective and sometimes not...
What if: I had said, no to him asking me if he should deploy this last time. He didn't have to go. He had already deployed and he was an only child so technically he didn't have to go. Well, I didn't say no. Instead I told him to go home and talk to Katie and sleep and pray on it and see how he felt after that. Well, of course none of that happened. He basically made up his mind before he had enough time to even get home. So, what if I had told him no? First, there was a very good chance he would have gone anyway and second, he couldn't have lived with himself had he not gone and something had happened to one of his guys. That I know for sure.
What if: I had gone to get him that night he called me a hot mess while in SOI? He called me at midnight ready to get on a plane and fly to Mexico. He was upset which of course had me upset, but I couldn't let him know I was upset. Instead my instinct of "tough love" kicked in. What I told him is he will pull himself together and gather his thoughts, pray, and get some sleep and he would call me first thing in the morning. Quitting was not an option so I had no option, but get tough. He said yes ma'am and we hung up. I immediately broke down in tears (poor Tebo) and started praying. I prayed so hard that night and continued until I heard from him when he woke up. He called just as he promised and said, you are right mom. I'm staying and I can do this. Dang right he could do this, but talk about hard to have a conversation like that when your baby boy is in California and hurting and scared and at the time I was in Tulia, TX at my mother-in-law's house on pins and needles. So what if I had gone to California (or Mexico) and brought him home? Well, despite the legal issues he would have faced, what would I have been teaching him? Quitting is always an option? You just give up when life gets hard? Those were not things I wanted to teach my son. He was better than that and he needed to see for himself that he was... He did!
What if: I had not accepted his bride and the fact that he was getting married so quickly and to the first girlfriend he really ever had? Well, first, I never thought I could or would like let alone love any girl he brought home. I had never had to share him with another female (buddies, yes). I thought that I would be the "Monster-In-Law" for sure. Well, it's funny how we just assume how we will behave, because honestly, knowing how much he loved her was really enough for me to love her. In fact, I basically courted her while he was in Iraq and handled the ring and she and I planned the wedding all while he was in Iraq. What if I had said, no? Well, he was going to marry her anyway and I would have missed out on one of the most important days of my son's life and missed out on enjoying the fact that I now had a daughter. I wouldn't trade that experience for anything in this world. I was blessed that she allowed me to be a part of the entire process down to picking out the dress. A mom of an only son couldn't ask for anything more. Would I do it again, hell yeah I would, in a heartbeat. Watching my son getting married and be so in love and be a husband even if it were just over a year was a blessing I would never give up. There are so many moms that don't get that privilege and I cherish that experience and those memories with all that I have.
What if: I had not told him about his surprise birthday present I got him and was planning to give him when he got off that bus returning from Afghanistan? See, he was due to return to California right around his 23rd birthday. I had managed to get an autographed picture of Peyton Manning and I had planned to have it framed and give it to him for his birthday. Well, I was so excited when it arrived that on our next phone call he got to make from Afghanistan I was bursting with excitement and had to tell him. He was literally the most excited I had heard him sound in so long that I still have to smile every time I relive that call. The call was literally less than 3 minutes long before we got cut off and mostly what he said was, "that's crazy, crazy I tell ya! How did you do that mom?". Then the call dropped. At the time I was so excited about how excited he was that it actually took me a few minutes after the call to realize I didn't get to say I love you before the call dropped. I was terribly upset about that and even told Tebo I would say I love you first before we say anything else next time. Well, sadly a week later I would never get that chance. So what if I hadn't told him? I wouldn't have the greatest last phone call a mom could ask for. That boy loved Peyton Manning (almost as much as I do) and you could literally hear his smile over the phone. I wouldn't trade that memory either.
So, what if I continue to ask myself all the What If questions? It will give me a reason to pause and think of all the things I could/would have missed out on had things not gone the way they did. It level sets me again and allows me to relive some of those memories a little extra. So ask the What If's if you need too, but don't live there. Don't get so hung up on the What Ifs to the point you can't move forward. That is easier said than done some days (again, I'm speaking to myself), but on those days I just dig a little deeper and find more happy memories (and thank God there are lots of those) and hold onto those a little tighter.
There isn't a moment that I am breathing that I'm not missing him, thinking about him, loving him, and remembering him. I long for him so much I ache. I know I will see him again one day and I know he isn't suffering, but knowing that doesn't make me miss him less. That will never change, and that I know for sure.