Send Angels

By Dr. Patricia L. Bay, Psy.D.
Published in W Magazine, February 2011

When mothers worry we want to do something. It is hard to wrap our brain, fraught with surging maternal instincts, around the idea that sometimes doing nothing is doing something. If we are aware individuals, we can often force ourselves to let them fall and pick themselves up, but there is still significant flinching going on inside.

Our Marine son-in-law, Danny, is deploying in a few weeks and we all understand he will be in combat. This is his job, his sacrifice for our country, and we are deeply proud of him. He is a son of my heart and I will be doing the "mom thing" and worrying about him. Go ahead; try telling me that everything will be okay and that I should not be afraid. I can control, to some degree, the outward expression of my concern, but those maternal feelings will surge like waves in my heart. I already dread the last leaving when he gets a "96" to come home for four days before shipping out.

"I miss Unkie. I'm worried about him going on the big ship," my four-year-old granddaughter, Ally, whispered to me. Her big blue eyes were sincere with concern. She is one of those children who sees and hears everything and has been part of discussions about Danny deploying. The way she understands it is that her "Unkie Dunkie," as Ally calls him, will be "more gone" than just being at his base, which she totally gets is near Disneyland.

"Me, too," I said quietly into her ear as I pulled her closer on my lap. "There is something we can do when we are thinking about him."

"We're going to send him boxes," Ally bubbled with excitement. She is already planning on putting one of her precious ducks into a care box. We have fun thinking about what to send to Danny and she has listened to me asking him what he wants in his boxes.

I smiled and replied, "Yes, we are going to send him lots of boxes with fun things inside, but there is something else we can do when we are worried. We can ask God to send angels to Unkie. When you think about Unkie on the big ship or far away from home, say a prayer and picture angels wrapping their arms around him to keep him safe."

Ally folded her arms across her chest and bowed her head. Her blonde hair fell across her face as she intoned her best preschool prayer voice, "God is great. God is good. Please send my Unkie angels and keep him safe." Her satisfied smile was emphasized by her sparkling baby blues. "There," she announced with satisfaction and slid off my lap to go play.