A mother's son goes to Iraq, part 6.

Tags: HeroStories

We're happy to present part 6 of our ongoing series from Melody Pigg. Her son, Marshall, is currently serving in Iraq.

Michael and MarshallIt's hard to believe that it's already May. May 2005 was a busy and exciting time for us. Michael was graduating from Kindergarten, I was graduating from college, and Marshall was graduating from high school. It's a very exciting time, not only for the graduating Senior, but for the entire family. The years flew by entirely too fast! It seemed like Marshall had just graduated from Kindergarten and now he was graduating from high school. Marshall was definitely ready to begin his life but we weren't. As a parent, you start thinking about all the things you wish you'd done but were unable to do either because of time or finances and you start wondering if you'd told your child everything they need to know before they face the world on their own. We threatened to hold him back just so we'd have him around another year. People had told us over the years to just wait until they're a teenager. The child will drive you crazy and you'll be so glad when they leave the house. Well, Marshall's time was up and we hadn't experienced those "teenage years." We were not ready for him to leave and he was ready to spread his wings and fly. As hard as it is to let him go, it also meant that we'd done our job, either that or we drove him crazy and Marshall wanted to get away from us!

Graduation day was bittersweet for us. As we watched Marshall's friends walking across the stage to receive their diplomas, we reflected on our own high school graduations and how there were several people in our classes that we'd never see again. These kids have hopes and dreams and we pray that they're able to achieve their goals. While the majority of the graduates and their parents were thinking about working over the summer and buying items for dorm rooms, our son was leaving in a week to spend his summer in Marine Corps boot camp in San Diego. Marshall was going to achieve his dream and the thought of the challenges he would face over the next four years sent shivers up our spines. For the next three months, we'd be unable to talk to him on the phone to qualm our fears and anxieties or to give him words of support.

During the ceremony, Michael and I spent most of the time walking around the arena to get the best camera shots of Marshall and his friends. Michael and I were waiting with increasing anticipation as the row in front of Marshall's stood to make their way to the stage. We were ready to take the picture! All of our eyes were on Marshall as he stood up with the rest of his row to make the walk to the stage. As he got to the end of the row, he looked up where his Dad was sitting, caught his Dad's eye, and nodded his head. That small gesture made the whole moment "our" moment. The acknowledgment from Marshall changed that important moment in his life from just "his" time to "our" time. The three of us were walking up on that stage with him. We had made it. He's a man. The love, support and respect that we show in our faces for him is mirrored in his face as he looks at us. That's one of many moments in Marshall's life that will be permanently embedded in my heart and mind.

Marshall called last week from the "sandbox." He sounded very good. The connection wasn't the best we've ever had and we're still not used to the delay in communication but to us he sounded wonderful. The emotions are mixed when he calls because you're so excited to hear from him and just hear that familiar voice. We mainly talk about what's going on at home, friends, and current events he's missing. Unfortunately, the call has to end and you have to say goodbye. That's the hardest part because you don't know when he'll call again. The tears flow and the heart hurts.

Pray for his safety and the safety of all of our troops,

Melody Pigg