Why not New York City? Why not start life over there, with so many people that love you?
Sitting with his in-laws in the Big Apple, Captain Henry Fitzhugh Lee of the police in Big Loft, VA might have considered the question seriously except that the Big Apple kept answering the question for itself …
A deep, throaty rumble came to everyone's ears, in the middle of their family conversation in Mama Morton's living room. To those who had grown up in the Big Apple, this was scarcely worth noticing. To those who had transitioned well from life in rural Virginia, it was concerning, but, you know, just another day in the Big Apple...
To Captain Lee, 23-year Army veteran, the sound alone triggered memories – his mind was instantly swept backward. He blinked … and opened his eyes to Afghanistan, 2003 … one of his first Special Forces missions, a rescue gone wrong, with shells and IEDs going off all around. Half the team he was with didn't make it back. But, the rescue had been successful anyway, at terrible cost, and had marked the start of his startling rise through the ranks to colonel … at terrible cost ...
The touch of a soft, wrinkled hand disrupted his memory … it was Mama Morton, widow and sister and daughter and niece to many veterans. She knew what was happening to her son-in-law, and gently provided a point of reference in real time. That set up a huge mental struggle around that reference point … then suddenly, Captain Lee's vision cleared, and he was back in the Morton living room.
No one else had really noticed, being too wrapped up in the social media feed coming through one of the Morton kids' phones …
“Gas leak at the old Gaskin factory,” one of them said. “The old factory just blew itself to smithereens.”
“Well, they said they probably couldn't stop it this morning because the thing had too many propane tanks inside when it collapsed – hope they got everybody back out of the way,” another said.
“Yeah, looks like they did,” said the youngster with the phone. “No harm done.”
The day went on. Captain Lee did not mention his “journey” to anyone else, although a hint that something had happened might have been seen in how quiet he remained for the rest of the day.
At twilight, Mama Morton gently touched the shoulder of her son-in-law.
“You have to take your victories and enjoy them as you can, Harry,” she said. “Where are you?”
“I am here. Still here.”
“The fact that you were able to recall the fact in two seconds shows that you are getting better.”
“It felt so much longer than that.”
“Two seconds. I counted. You are recovering, Harry. Keep trusting the Lord and putting in the work. We'll keep putting in the love.”
“Thank you, Mama Morton. I'm still here because of that love. Thank you.”