Archive for Thursday, January 13, 2005

A post-holiday blues perspective

January 13, 2005

I don't know about you, but I developed a bad case of the post-holiday blues Monday. I had made it through Christmas and New Years in great shape, thanks to plenty of family and friends.

But, something happened Monday that sent me into a funk that I could only attribute to the post-holiday blues, which I've been struck with to varying degrees over the years. Possibly the trigger for that is taking down Christmas decorations, which I did Saturday, which is a chore that signals the end to the festivities.

But, it was more than that, I thought. Maybe it was the dreadful weather, the nasty weather we've finally experienced with its skating-rink like streets and sidewalks thanks to the bane of all weather types -- freezing rain. There it was again Monday morning, coating everything. The 50-to-60 degree Sunday that had been predicted didn't occur and Monday was back to even more of the frozen precipitation nastiness that we seem stuck with.

No, it was more than that. Maybe it was that "break" was truly over. Both sons were gone, Anth back to Baker for Interterm and Brett off on a ski trip to Colorado prior to his return to Drake. I had concerns with both, Anth with a car that wouldn't start (long story, won't go there), and Brett on a trip in snowy Colorado.

Still, that wasn't quite all of it either. There was that reality of back to the "real world" that takes hold once the cheer of Christmas and the revelry of New Years is over. It's all that work to do that's been postponed until "after the holidays" and the bills to pay which have been boosted by holiday spending. Then, of course, there's the reality of those New Year's resolutions that need to be kept. I won't go there, either.

But, maybe the real answer is all of the above. The combination of so many things, so many emotions, so many realities that join forces every year in early January to throw me in a funk. Whatever it is, or thankfully now, was, it didn't last long this year.

The Rev. Ira DeSpain put all that nonsense in perspective when he stopped by the office at noon Monday.

"Dan went back to Iraq today," DeSpain said of his son, a Baldwin High School and Baker University graduate, "and he'll be there for seven months."

Talk about a reality check. It made my problems, my concerns, my inconveniences seem so small. I can't imagine the worry, the frustration of not knowing where your son is or how he's doing, that must take place with a child smack dab in harm's way.

We've all been hearing, seeing and reading about the increased tensions and violence going on over there and what's to be expected as the scheduled elections in Iraq draw near.

"That's why he's going early," DeSpain said about the elections. "He was going back in February, but they bumped it up. We don't know where he'll be for sure. We know the province, but it's a pretty big area."

DeSpain and his wife, Barbara, have been down the son-in-Iraq road before. Dan returned from his first stint in July, just in time to see his first daughter born. Now the joy of those events are only memories as the DeSpains once again can only worry and pray for his safe return.

It also made me think of another couple, friends whose son is scheduled for his first tour of duty in Iraq. Matt Roach, son of Jerry and Gloria Roach, is another BHS graduate in the service. I know Matt well from working side-by-side with him on numerous events over the years. By chance, Gloria was in Hair and Nail Tuesday night, so I was able to inquire about how she and Jer, who I'd seen earlier in the day, were holding up.

"He's gone. He left Sunday," Gloria said, the look of worry enveloping her face. "He left Sunday. We put him on the plane.

"I asked him if he was scared and he said 'you can't do that,'" she recalled him saying. "'This is an adventure. This is what I've trained to do and now I'm going to go over there and do it. I've never flown over the ocean. This is an adventure.' I wish his mom could look at it that way."

Gloria continued to say that about all they could do is have their thoughts and prayers with their son. The DeSpains know that. They know about the importance of one's service to country and saw that at an Olathe restaurant where Dan was in full Marine uniform while they celebrated Christmas.

"It was important for him to be there," DeSpain said of his son's return to Iraq. "He will miss his wife and daughter like crazy. But that's why people thank him. People just came up to him at the restaurant and said 'thank you for what you do.'"

Over many years I've come to admire the Baker minister for many things, including his ability to put a religious perspective to tragedy. That has been strengthened by that same faith put to test with his son's military service. He's proud of Dan, he's proud of his service, he's proud to see people appreciate it. But, he also worries, he also prays for a safe return for all those serving.

"Yes, it's all those things," he said. "It's a combination of pride and a time when my family and I are depending on our faith."

We should all pray for Dan, Matt, all the other Baldwin people and everyone else serving our country during these dangerous times overseas. Let's keep everything in perspective.

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