Thoughts of a soldier's mother

Bournemouth Echo: A soldier on patrol on the crossroads linking Sangin, Lashkar Gah, Kandahar and Camp Bastion in Helmand Province A soldier on patrol on the crossroads linking Sangin, Lashkar Gah, Kandahar and Camp Bastion in Helmand Province

AS my son leaves for his third tour of duty, the worry and anxiety are never far from my mind. I have thought long and hard about writing a diary as I know that this will be a very emotional time.

However I am aware that my feelings and emotions are the same carried by many mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters and families.

The wives and husbands that are left behind in the tight knit communities on the barracks all have one thing in common.

For us at home, we try to cope – some alone – with the roller-coaster of fear and emotions, whilst dealing with normal day to day life.

My journey starts at least six months prior to my son leaving, during poignant events like Christmas and birthdays, when all the family come together.

In the back of my mind I am thinking, quietly: ‘Please be here next year to mark this event’ and hoping that it is not the last time my complete family are together.

I am sure my son has the same thoughts privately or it is not very far from his mind.

Coping with the final weeks before he deploys, I try to look for reassurance as the fear starts to get closer.

I want to know how he is feeling - is he confident? How are his comrades feeling?

Perhaps I am looking for any final bits of parental advice I should be giving, maybe words of wisdom – don’t take chances, don’t be a hero.

We try to make light of it. My son always told me he would never write a ‘death letter’ – good, I never want to receive one.

Jokingly he tells me he would let me have his password to Facebook instead.

I have constantly asked myself, has he accomplished everything in life that he has wanted to do up to now? Is he happy with what he does? Does he enjoy living his life on the edge? The answer is yes.

Sadly, I have met parents who have had their sons injured in Afghanistan and every parent knows the risks our young men and women are taking.

Some have paid the ultimate price, but all you can do is pray it will never be your child.

As I tell myself, this is his choice, he chose this career path and no matter how emotionally draining it is, balancing family life, full-time work, and praying you never receive the ‘dreaded knock on the door’ - if a military officer brings bad news, all myself and family can do is support him as best we can.

• The mother asks readers to please support The Rifles wristband appeal, which helps relatives and loved ones in the immediate aftermath of a serious injury or fatality.

Visit www.swiftandbold.org

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