I don't hear from my son too often. I have an inkling of where he is most of the time or at least where his starting point is (this time around). If I am lucky, while he is on duty, it is once a month that he will call me. He uploads pictures to a photo album weekly. This is how I know he's still OK so far.

It's 140 degrees. That's what his thermometer shows. It is hot and dry. Twice he's taken photos of camel spiders. He does that to startle me. He pokes fun at me for my irrational fear of spiders. These suckers look like the sand and they are freaking HUGE! He shows them to me as if to say, "See? Look how close I am, there's nothing to be scared of." The spiders are not among his worries. He has other concerns. In some photos, there is the after cloud of an explosion rising. In another, a large plane is in the air nestled in a cloud of beige. He writes in his caption, "There's my bird coming in for a landing...in a sandstorm...I got scared."

His last round of photos let me feeling on edge. They are memorials to buddies of his. A rifle is standing upright capped by a helmet, a pair of boots at attention at the base. A formal photo is lighted in the background hanging on a large camo net. The U.S. flag is always somewhere in the picture, either hanging or folded in a tight triangle. R.I.P. is written below these photos my son has taken. The memorials to the fallen are increasing.

You see, this brings it home. He could die. He could. I try not to think about it. But come Sunday morning, he is full on in my thoughts and the worries I've held at bay all week come pressing in. My boy could die.

It has been dangled that he may be coming home for a few months break in 10 days. Home being a relative term, I should say back to the States. I am counting down those days probably as much as he is. The last time I heard from him, he was jumpy. I suppose if mortars and air sirens were constantly going off around me, I would be skittish too. I hope this is not a tease. I hope that plans won't get changed suddenly. But, I know how it has been. Until it actually occurs, this is a maybe and no more. He turns 21 on the 16th this month. Coming home may be the best birthday present Uncle Sam could give him. I hope his Uncle doesn't disappoint. I want my son home because, quite frankly, I am scared. I am merely one of the many sitting at home with breath held and fingers crossed, just waiting. Imagine what he and his remaining buddies are feeling. I want my son home.