The Day the Horns Stopped…

“This song is sad,” Patrick said, describing a woeful classical piece that came over the speakers in my truck.  My heart squeezed.

In that moment, I realized that even the kids could sense the quiet.  The overwhelming stillness was palpable in the air.  How does one explain this kind of loss, this kind of tragedy, to a three year old?

“Well,” I sighed, “The Jordanians have lost someone they love and care about today- and it is a sad day.  The bad guys killed one of their soldiers.”

I drove in a surreal state of hyper observance both times I took the short trip to the embassy today.  The streets were eerily quiet for a mid-morning Wednesday in busy Amman.

This was the day the horns stopped.  Everyone was in that state of shock that makes them slow to react.  There were no men selling papers at the intersections, no kids peddling candy or small toys they lifted from the local corner store, no refugee women begging for my spare change.  Between mournful sets of classical piano and violin, the local pop station played eighties ballads and slow new age sound rhythms filled with heart ache and melancholy.  There would be no Katy Perry today.

As I passed through security I could see the pain on the faces of the gendarmerie- that glazed look of defeat and anguish that sets somewhere behind the eyes, a direct line to a grieving soul.  A look that is finely divided between sadness and anger and helplessness and vengeance.  I tried to match their solemn expression, for there were no words I could say that would alleviate an entire nation’s heart ache.

The embassy playground was deserted, and after weeks of bright blue clear skies, the clouds were rolling in on a cold wind by sunset.  Even the trees seem to whisper their condolences.  And all I kept thinking was this is a nation in mourning. 

The only other time I’ve ever felt this way, was on the morning of September 11, 2001.  I would have never wished that same feeling on anyone, ever.  And as I drove I realized that I am living history- and that for much of my fellow Americans, anything that happens in the Middle East is very much something that happens “over there.”  Well, today, I want all of my friends and family to know that to me, this happened at home.

My heart aches for this kingdom.  My heart aches for the family and friends and countrymen of Mu’ath al-Kasasbeh just as it aches for every young Marine that has fallen in battle.  These men put their lives on the line for their country, but they also put it on the line for their allies, and they do so willingly, in service of their nation.  As an American, and as a Foreign Service family, I feel it is our responsibility to acknowledge this with appreciation and honor.  It is our duty to do whatever in our power to deal with ISIS.

“Mommy,” Patrick replied, interrupting my mental wanderings, “That is sad.”

And then he gave a small optimistic smile.  “But it’s okay, the Good Guys will always win.”

Love, and Peace, and Happyness to all,

~M

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