Friday, March 31, 2006
I am not sure how in the heck I am going to do this "single mom" stuff. I know millions of mothers do it on a daily basis, but this morning almost drove me to the breaking point. I get the girls up, ready for school, tell Bren to get her shoes and socks on and come brush her teeth. She of course tells me, "no mama, I want to wear sandals". No you cannot wear sandals to school, you have to follow the rules. Please get your heart socks on and find a pair of shoes....."ok mama". I thought things were going to be ok, but nope, Bren is in her room, playing on the bed, no socks, no shoes. I am about to loose it a little but I say, "come on we need to get rolling." Bren has to go potty, "ok, get in the bathroom, I will find your shoes and socks". I get the items, walk into the bathroom, and what do I find......Brenna sticking the plunger in the toilet, pants half pulled down, and wet! I was so upset!!! Bren has a habit lately of getting distracted and wetting her pants, this has gotten better, but this morning it drove me crazy...we just put the darn pants on!! So I take her to room, give her a good chewing out, get panties, new jeans, and finally get her dressed, all the while she is screaming....i want my grandma, I want my papa, I want my grandpa....anyone but mean mama. Finally I get her into the bathroom to brush her teeth, another drama scene to be had. I don't like this toothbrush, I don't want this toothpaste, I don't want to brush my teeth. "Fine, don't brush your teeth, they will fall out and you won't have any, you will have to eat your food through a straw because you can't chew." "ok, mama, I want to eat. I will brush." AUGH!!! I truly felt like I could not do this today, how in the heck am I going to keep doing this for years?! Dear God help me.....I know every mother has days like this, I know even when Joel was home, I had them, but he was here to interviene, here to help in a physical way. I know these moments will be forgotten and replaced by happier ones, I know when I look back and remember times with my children, it will be the fun, loving, memorable moments that stick out into my mind. Not the times where I was about to go ever-loving crazy. I do know that Joel is with me in spirit, how ever today...I felt pretty alone, maybe I was to worked up to feel him with me, maybe I was not paying enough attention, but I know he is with me now and is always there....it just bothered me that I felt that alone then, that far from anywhere I ever thought I would be in my life with my children right now.
Well Dora went of without a hitch. They had a blast and the girls did so well. It was hard though, I found myself missing Joel so much, imagining what he would have said, how he would have acted with the girls, knowing that he would have loved this. Brenna was sitting on my friend B's lap(we went with H and B and their kids) and she snuggled in, got cozy and would dance and sing in his lap. That was so hard to watch, knowing that if Joel were here, she would not be doing that, needing that attention, she would be cozied up on her papa's lap.....laughing and not knowing any of this pain she has already experienced in her short three years of life. Watching and thinking at the same time, I am greatful for the friends that I have, the ones that knew Joel and will help me teach these two about him, however.....I wish he were here, especially for these times. Faith, my little Faith who thinks to much for her own good. She was sitting in a seat by herself, watching and laughing, but at the same time, I could see sadness on her face. My heart hurt so bad, I knew why she was sad. She remembers going to the Circus with her Papa, sitting on his lap, she remembers going to a few other events where they would laugh, play and pretend to be a part of the show. I know that had to be going through her mind a little. Finally she came and sat on my lap and just snuggled in, one she was getting a little tired, but two, she just wanted to be held. How I wish he was there with us.
Thursday, March 30, 2006
Tonight I am taking the girls to Dora. I just told them about the "surprise" tonight and they cannot wait, there mood has me going right now, it has me on an even slope of my roller coaster day. They cannot wait and they both said, "papa would love it". I know he would have had a blast taking them and seeing the smiles on their faces when I told them about it, he would have melted. Joel loved nothing more than making his three "girls" happy, especially putting a smile on the girls faces....he would smile for hours about it. I am looking forward to tonight with the girls and know it will be fun but difficult at the same time. I know Joel will be there in spirit.
What a day, one minute I am happy, laughing, joking with the girls, the next minute I am walking through Target about to cry. Then I am staring at a local paper, finding myself reading todays article (about the year in Iraq for 3BDE) in the middle of the sidewalk by Petsmart, ready to cry again. Only to find myself laughing a few minutes later at something silly in the store. I found myself driving down the road, intending to go home, but I was not going the right way, I was not even sure how I got to where I was at, where I thought I was going, but.....I do know that I was thinking about Joel, thinking it has been nearly five months, five months, is that possible? Are my dates wrong? I know they aren't, I know that I am right on track, but it sure as heck does not seem that five months have gone by already. What have I done with all the time? What have I been doing the last five months? It is pretty scary that I can't remember a whole lot about the last five months, the only things I remember are the ones that have pierced my heart and will leave a scar there. The days that I thought would not end, the days that I did not know how to talk to my girls about where papa was, the days I did not know how to help them or myself. Those first few months are a blur, a complete black spot for me. I know there are some times right now that have been good, some times that have made all three of us laugh and feel better and I know more will come as the time continues to pass, but damn it..........I just wish my girls did not have to go through life without their papa, did not have to learn some of these lessons from just me, they would have loved learning how to play soccer, baseball, hockey....all that stuff from there papa. I can't teach them that, I am a runner, I have little coordination for anything other than running and jumping. Those are the things that we talked a lot about doing, he could not wait to get them a soccer goal to start teaching them how to play. He could not wait to get home and get them going on the fun things he wanted to teach them.....they will never have that now. I have lost my best friend, but they have lost so much more....a best friend, a father, a mentor.....I think this is why my day has been such a roller coaster. I know it will get better.
Wednesday, March 29, 2006
Today was the day that the local paper had an article about Joel, the girls, and I in it. I have been told it was a good article, but I guess I have a biased opinion. I read the article and a few things caught my attention right away. The first, being the thing that upsets me the most right now is how the journalist phrased what I said about Joel and being in Audie Murphy's Company. As I read it, it made it sound like Joel knew this was Audie Murphy's Co(which is tru), that Joel knew all there was to know about Audie M.(true again), but then he said, but Joel did not think about that a lot, he was more proud of being a CO and getting his command(this is all from memory so some of the wording is off, I am sure). That is not true, that is not what I said, what I said was Joel was proud to have been able to lead soldiers, as a CO and as a soldier, his primary concern was always his soldiers, he just got to do it as a commander now. I almost felt like the writer made it sound like Joel did not care about anything but getting command. That really upset me, because that is not the case, Joel always held his soldiers first and I know that those who knew Joel and his leadership style know this, but.....I just want him remembered for who he was, who he truly was, not what some reporter wrote in the paper that had some half truth's in it. Maybe I am being ultra sensitive in all of this and it is a good article, I guess I just have a very deep, very strong emotional investment and it gets bruised at times, very easily. I know I am being to sensitive, but he is my husband and I want people to know what he truly stood for and to me some of the article did not portray that in the best manner. There is nothing I can do aout it now, except know that those who knew him know how he was and remember him for who he was and tell that to my girls.
Tuesday, March 28, 2006
I am feeling better right now. I talked to a few good friends, did a lot of crying, holding the flag box, and finally taking the girls roller blading and playing at the park. It was just the releif that we all needed. Faith is getting so good at skating and Bren is following in her footsteps. I got my skates on and had a little therapy along wih the girls. It was good for me and the girls. It is amazing how a little time, excercise and fun can make you feel better and connected to your children. Then tonight the girls helped me wash Maggie, she has her spaying surgery tomorrow, so we all got her ready and cleaned up, it was so much fun. They love helping mama and I realized tonight, that I need to let them help me more, not just in a physical manner around the house, but in an emotional manner by being a "kid" with them and enjoying their childhood as part of my own. It gives me a lot of joy and strength seeing them be happy, have fun and be little girls. They truly boosted me this afternoon. I am so greatful for them and what they give me. I guess maybe I was really missing Faith today too, knowing that I had 8 hours to myself, instead of just 4. It will get better as I start getting more busy and finding stuff to do with my time.
I feel as though I am in a slump right now. I am not sure how to get out of it. I have a crap load of stuff to do, but my motivation to do it is slim to nill right now. I just want to sit on the couch, look at photo's, stare at the flag box or listen to the music that makes me think of Joel. I am not sure why or how this happening right now, I feel as if I have been doing so well, and now this week I am just feeling so low. I am not sure how to fix that. I am wondering if part of it is the ring, each time I look at it, I think...Joel would have loved this, damn I wish he could have been the one to do this for me. Part of it is the upcoming newspaper article, not sure what to expect there, hopefully it is a good tribute to my husband and the rest .....I am not sure. Part of me wants to pack the girls up and run away for a week, just get out of the house, away from reality and escape for a little while. I am not sure if that is a wise idea, but it sure sounds good. I do not normally run away from problems(I may avoid them for a short while), but I don't run, I try to face it, but right now, I don't feel like facing it. I feel like just running and escaping. I miss Joel so very much right now, his voice, his smile, his eyes, his laugh and even his crazy ideas at times. I never realized how good I had it with him, how much I depended on him for support, how much I relied on him to get me through each day, not until all of this happened. I feel very alone right now. That is it, loneliness, that is what is making me feel this way.
Monday, March 27, 2006
Brenna has had a very, very long day today. I knew when I took her to school that she was not quite herself, then when I picked her up, she soon started crying for papa. Then tonight as we were getting ready for bed, having our snack and reading books, she jsut cried and cried, talking about how worried she is about papa. I asked her why she was worried and she said, "because mama, he is dead and he is not coming home, that is why I am worried and that is why I don't want my snack." My heart broke, I just wanted to scream and cry. She asked me whyI was looking at her that way and all I could say was, "my heart breaks for you and Faith. I wish Papa was here." It is the truth, my heart breaks everytime I think about what they have lost, that they will not get to grow up experiencing life with Joel. I talked to her a little more and said, Bren it is ok to be sad about papa and miss him, it is ok to cry and yell. I miss him a lot too. A lot of people have said that it is good that they are so young, it is a little easier, but I do not know. I think about the memories, they are so young, are they going to remember everything? What will they remember? Bren was only 2 when Joel left for Iraq and not quite 3 when he came home this summer, what will she remember? Faith remembers a little more, she was older, she was almost 4 when Joel left and she has very clear memories of his time on R and R, I know she will remember more. I just wish Bren could have more, if she was older, she would, if they were older, they may understand a little more. We might have some more difficult times, but I think they would have better, clearer, stronger memories. I do not know if there ever is a good age to loose your papa. I sure as hell know that there is not a good age to loose your spouse, not like this. I know I have a huge role in helping them preserve and "remember" some memories of Joel, I know I can help them to have these forever, but......I just want to scream at times, right now is one of those times. This has been such a strange day for all of us, I am not sure why, I wish I knew, but.....oh well, I pray that tomorrow will be a better day, a clearer day for all of us.
Here are some photo's that were taken in Arlington, these truly got me. More than I thought they would. I am so greatful that so many took some pictures of their trips to Arlington, to visit my loved one. I am so greatful to have these, each set I have received is so different and special to me in a way that I cannot explain. I am so greatful for all of those who are supporting and helping me in ways that they probably do not know they are helping me. I wrote this blog a while back, not sure if I wanted to post it. I looked at it again, looked at the pictures, the soldier saluting Joel's headstone, the headstone with flowers and I just wanted to cry but at the same time I was so very proud of my husband. The lives he touched, the soldiers that respected him and for he stood for and beleived in. I miss that man so very much and I am so proud of him, to this day and until the day I die I will forever be proud of him and love him.
Well it seems that all three of us are having a "Just Joel Day". I picked the girls up from school and they both seemed to be kind of down, not quite themselves and Bren started fussing and crying soon after we got into the car that she misses her papa, that she wants him. It dawned on me that all of us are missing Joel a lot today, that all of us just want to have him with us. I wish something would ease us all, I am trying to find something to do to help us all remember him and think about him and not miss him so much, but what kind of things do you do for a three and five year old to help them feel better about their papa being gone? Faith has hockey tonight, so maybe I will talk about how much Joel would have loved watching her play hockey, how scared he would be to see her up and rolling around on roller blades, but how proud he would be of her. I know I will find something to help the girls and in the end, if it helps them, it will help me too. It will help me feel as though I am doing some good here and giving my girls strength and in return giving myself strength. The last thing I want to do is sit and watch my children suffer through their pain and not do anything about it because of my own pain. My fear is that I am not doing enough for them to help them, that I am not strong enough for them......I don't want to ruin them, I don't want to cause them more pain. I want them to gain strength from me and I guess today I am not sure if I am doing that for them. I pray that I am, I pray that I am giving them what they need. I just don't know right now.
I just took the girls to school, driving home I felt very blahish. Just ho-hum, what do I do now. Today is the first day that Faith will be at school all day, so I will have 8 hours of "me" time, but I do not know what to do with that time right now, or how I will handle it. I feel "one of those day's" coming on and I really don't want it to happen. I just don't know how to fight it off right now and I wish to God I knew how to do it. When my brother died, we called these days "Brad Days", now I feel as if these are my "Just Joel Days". I do know that it is ok to have these days, I do know that these days will come whether I want them to or not. I just have to find ways to get through these moments and keep moving, find ways to reassure myself that this will all be ok. I know that I am a strong person, but when you find yourself alone, in a home you once shared with your husband, not sure what to do or where to turn, it is hard to find that strength. I know we will all be ok, it is just so hard at times.
Sunday, March 26, 2006
Well Friday has come and gone, it was a lot different than I expected it to be. I was expecting a lot different emotions than what I had. As the ceremony was about to begin, I was seated in a row of chairs in front of couple set of bleachers, I could look to my right and all I could see what a sea of DCU's. I could not stop the tears, I could not keep my brain from thinking, Joel is not there, he is not here with his soldiers. I found myself thinking that for minutes, thinking that each time I looked at 1-15, each time I looked at one of his friends, each time I saw certain people. I am greatful that they rededicated the monument, that they had the soldiers names who perished in Iraq inscribed onto this monument. I am greatful that they had all of us there to help in this dedication. However, it was so difficult to know that my Joel was not there, that I was there to honor him and not to support him as a Company Commander. That was very difficult for me, then seeing his name.......seeing his name on the monument. Another place that my husband's name is carved into granite, another place that it will be for eternity. I want hm with me for eternity, in human form, but I know that he is with me in my heart and helping me through each day. I just wish I still had him, that we were still planning our daily and monthly plans, our future in the Army.....now I am destined to planning my future with my girls without him, living bicariously through my Army Family and where the Army is taking them and where I could possibly have been going with Joel and our girls. This is all such a strange and hard place to be. I know I will get the strength from somewhere, from Joel and God, but I still have those days that I just want to crawl in bed, to forget the "events" that I have had to attend and pretend he is still on his way home. Those moments pass, eventually and I remember why I have to keep going and keep moving....for my girls, for them and myself. They are what keeps me going, everyday. Yesterday I tried to forget the day before, but today I just let it overtake me. I played with the girls, cleaned and then ended up laying in my bed, crying, clutching onto the picture of Joel and I that Faith took. Wishing that it would all end, wishing that this was all a bad dream that I would wake up from. Wishing that they would all the sudden realize that they made a huge, horrible mistake, but I know that will not happen. I know that this is not a mistake. I know that I will get better, day by day and learn how to get through these moments. I just had to let today happen, to let myself have that moment, remember Friday, remember Nov 6th and remember my husband. Remember all that has happened in these last four months and three weeks. In the end, as hard as those moments are, they help make me stronger and help make me get through the rest of the days with the girls. We will be ok.
Yippeee!! Yeah! Finally! I got it, I have the ring in my possesion, on my hand! I still wish I had waited and found someone who would not have taken four months, but the finished product is beautiful, it is the ring that I know Joel would have picked out for me, one that he would have loved. I am so greatful to have it back, to have the stones that I wanted so desperatly in my possesion again. I am so releived. Faith saw the ring and she said, "mama, it is beautiful, I love it." She knows that this ring is part of mine and part of papa's rings, she knows that it is special to me. Bren just thinks that it is pretty and wants one too. I know one day, when they are older and can understand better, they will truly understand the importance of this to me, the deep meaning of this to me and it will some day hold the same meaning to them. I am so greatful to have it back.
Thursday, March 23, 2006
A few years ago, my wedding band got caught on something at work and the diamond fell out. I found the stone after looking and looking for it, actually a patient found it for me. I took it home, put it away and waited for Joel and I to take it in and get the stone reset into another ring. We were going to use his wedding band and mine and make a new ring out of the stones. Joel's original wedding band had diamonds in it and he never wore it, he always wore his field ring(a plain band that we bought when he went to IOBC and I went to ROTC Adv. CAmp). Finally one day I asked him why he wore that one and not his wedding band, he finally said, "Mary, I don't like the daimonds, daimonds are for .........(those of you who knew Joel, can probably fill in that statement). So I bought him a titanium and gold band for our first Valentines day and he wore that one all the time, except on deployments(it now has a home on my middle finger, right hand). S0....back to the story......Joel had bought me a beautiful tanzinite ring from Africa, I wore that all the time in place of my wedding band. When Joel was home on R and R, we talked about taking his wedding band, my wedding ring, and the tanzinite and getting it reset into one ring, combining the metals of the two wedding bands. I was really excited about doing this, it meant a lot to me that he wanted to do this and brought it up on R and R. Shortly after Joel passed, I took the rings into a local jewlery store to have the ring made, it was my first step to accepting his death. It was an emotional time to let go of the ring so soon after the death, to let those precious things out of my possesion. It has now been almost four months and I am still waiting. I am getting so upset. I just want the ring back, more so to have it back in my possesion, even if the ring is not done. I just want it back......I am so frustrated. I called the store today and she said it could be done tomorrow but more like saturday......damn it! I wanted to scream, but I just stood there, thinking ok...a few more days....but then I stood there, started bauling and thought but I was supposed to have it right after christmas, then late Feb, then the second week of March.....now maybe Saturday. Damn, damn, damn......I wish I had not taken it in now, I wish I had waited or found someone who could stick to their "timeline". I am so frustrated. It is not the fact that I don't have a new ring, it is the fact that I don't have these precious things back, that I let them out of my site for so long. I just want them back.
Tuesday, March 21, 2006
I just got done reading the girls their bedtime stories. I read the The Sleep Book, it is one of their favorites. As I was reading it, I was constantly reminded of Joel. I kept remembering how much he disliked reading this book to the girls. One, it is SOOO long, two it is a tongue twister and for those of you who knew Joel, he did not like tongue twisters, he could not get all of the words out. He always felt like it took him twice as long to read it to him, granted, he would read it, if he could not convince the girls to pick out another one. I would laugh so much because he would try to skip pages and Faith would pick up on it. Or he would say he had to go "potty" and would be "right" back, hoping they would forget and go to sleep. That never happened. Once or twice he asked me to come in and finish and the girls would not have that either. It was a great memory and even though it was hard, knowing that he will not ever be able to read another story to them in person, it was a good memory. I know he was with me then, reading to them, I felt at peace for the first time that day. I know he was watching over us and reading the story with them. I only wish it was him, in person, standing in the doorway, watching me read to them like he had so many times before. I just remember something that Joel had talked about doing a long time ago, reading stories and video taping them for the girls so they would have them to listen to and watch when they wanted to. I wish we had gotten that done. I wish I had sent him a cheap video camera and books to him in Iraq so he could have done that while he was there. The girls would have absolutley loved that and it would be a great keep sake. That is one thing I regret right now, I wish we would have followed through on that.
I found out last week that there are some pictures floating around Baker CO of Joel's headstone. I immediatly did what I could to find out who it was and where I could get a copy of it. I did not take my camera with me the last time I was there, something I regret not doing. I will have it with me the next time I go. I found out today that the pictures are on a website and I will be posting that link tomorrow as soon as I get it. I am anxious to see the pictures, but I am also sad to think, that the only pictures I will ever have of my husband now will be of his named carved into a piece of beautiful smooth gray granite. A headstone......to know that I will never have him again in this life.....I miss him so much. I know seeing the pictures of the headstone will not be easy, but it will also be something that in time, it will bring me comfort and I know it will be something that the girls will want to have.
Monday, March 20, 2006
Joel, Joel, Joel....on my mind all day. I was busy and kept going all day, but the things I was doing, it all revolved around him and his death. I went running, running to escape the pain and frustration. I went shopping, shopping to get an outfit for the dedication here at Benning on Friday, then for a suit for May. That was the hardest part of the shopping, knowing that I needed another suit, something to honor Joel. I have bought two suits in my life, the first one was for his funeral, one that I have worn once since and know I could never put on again. Now this one to wear when I go to receive the Gen. MacArthur Award that Joel received post-humorusly(sp??), ironically the dates of this award fall on what would have been our 7th wedding anniversary. I know that I want to be in DC on the 15th of May, I want to spend that time with him, I want to be with him on that day. I realize that it is not him, it is only his body and he is still with me and in my heart, I just want to be there. As I was trying on the suit I bought for this day, I kept thinking about that day, being up there, at Arlington, spending that time with him, by myself. What will it be like, how will I feel, what emotions will I go through, what will I expereience. At first I was really upset that the dates fell on our anniversary, but a friend of mine told me, "Mary, don't discount fate, maybe this is meant to be." I think this friend was right, I feel now that I am supposed to be up there then, that it will be good for me to be with Joel on this day. I just have so many questions, and some anxiety. I do not know how to put it out of my mind, I don't know how to make myself feel at ease about this and approach it in the way I have approached all the other events that I have had to attend. This seems so much more significant to me, so much more pertinent to what I am going through. I just do not know how to get past this date right now, it just keeps creeping into my mind right now, when I least expect it too. Simple things, like shopping bring it back into my mind. I knwo I will get past this soon, I just don't know how right now.
Sunday, March 19, 2006
Here are some new photo's of the girls, more to come later. They have grown so much in the last few months, it is hard to beleive. They just keep going and keep me going! This is Faith and me, sorry that it is sideways, I could not figure out how to rotate it. I gave up! This is pretty good picture of my "new" five year old! Faith and Maggie, she loves this picture. She absolutely loves this dog and she loves to dress her up. I will post more of those soon! Bren blowing a kiss, she loves to blow mama kisses. Somedays, if she sees me pull up to school, she will see me out the window, and blow me kisses, it is pretty funny and sooo cute. These two girls keep me going, I hope you can see why, just by the smiles on their faces and the look in their eyes. I love these two more than anything in the world!
Last night, I kept replaying a conversation in my mind that I had with Joel, years ago. It was a few months before he left for Iraq and a few months after 9/11. We were driving down the road, going to the beach for a walk with Faith, talking about all that happened on 9/11 and what this would mean for him for future deployments. I was scared and worried. I said to him, "Joel, I am so scared, I don't want you to go, I already lost a brother, I cannot lose a husband and the father of our children too." He said, "Mary, nothing will happen to me as long as I can control it, I will be ok. I have to do this, it is what I beleive in and what I want to do for our future and our children." I do not know why I remembered that conversation, why I kept replaying it. I don't quite understand it. I know he had no control over this situation, I know he did not even know it happened, he died instantly. I just wish I knew what his last thoughts were, what he was thinking when this happened, if he heard the blast and what he thought. I also remember a conversation a few short days before he died. We had been having a long drawn out discussion over e-mail regarding the FRG and some other things. It was creating some issues that weren't necessary. I went to a memorial service for two soldiers who were injured in October and died later that month. I knew one of them, he was a patient of mine and it made me realize that all this little stuff we were discussing and maybe arguing over, was not important. I got home after this service, sat down at the computer and wrote him an e-mail. This is the short of it. I wrote him and said, I realized that all this FRG stuff was not that big of an issue, that there are bigger things in life to worry about and the last thing I wanted him remembering was some stupid argument over FRG stuff. I aplogized for it and made sure he knew how much the girls and I loved him, how proud we were of him and how excited we were to have him coming home soon. The last thing I wanted him remembering, God forbid, was us, our love for him and how we support him. This was on Thursday, Nov 3 2005. He wrote me back, thanking me for the e-mail, supporting me, loving me.....telling me how proud he was of me, how far we had come and that he could not wait to get home to us. He always remember how much I love him and the girls....so he said, no need to worry about the other stuff, I usually forget about it after wards anyways. That was three days before he died. I am so glad I wrote that e-mail, so glad that I came to that realization. I am so thankful that I did that, that I told Joel those things, that I know he read that e-mail and understood what I meant. I am so thankful for this. These conversations are good memories to have, these converstaions are ways to remind myself what we had, what was important to us then and just before he died. I miss these conversations with him, but I know if I keep talking to him and keep him a part of my life, daily, he will still answer me, he will still talk to me. I just need to listen. I know it may sound like fluff to some, but I beleive in this.
Saturday, March 18, 2006
Faith and I just got done making a poster for school. She has her show and tell week next week and they have to do a "story" board of their life. I let her pick out her photo's and of course many of them have photo's of papa in them. As we were deciding what to write on them, she would ask me when the photo't were taken and then decide what to write. On one of them, it was a picture of her with Joel and I, I was still pregnant with Brenna. So she said, "mama, I want it to say, My name is Faith, this is papa when he was still alive". It broke my heart and I tried so hard not to cry. I almost did not write it, but I know this is what she wanted and she would be angry if I told her she could not have that on there, I also don't want her thinking that she cannot tell other people about her papa. I never realized how simple some of this would be for her, it is just pure fact and for me, it is almost pure emotion, I know what the facts are, but the emotions outway that. I guess it makes me realize that sometimes the way kids look at life is the way I need to look at it. I need to try and look at some of these pictures the way my little girls do. It is just hard because I know what they are missing, I know what they will not have in these next years to come. Damn it, I never thought I would be doing this.
Friday, March 17, 2006
I am not sure how I am feelig or what I am feeling right now. I feel a little sad, a little alone, a little afraid, a little angry....ad I am not sure why. I think it has to do with the interview and the photo's yesterday, or a lot to do with my girls and all they have lost. I beleive that is it. I think about what I have to do now, a mother and a father role and I feel sad, angry, confused....how in the hell am I am going to fill both roles? They have lost so very much, a father, a mentor, role model, teacher, friend, but most of all the man who loves them more than anything in the world. The man who died for them and their freedom and safety. I know he can still be a role model for them, a hero but he is not here to share in these moments with me, he is not here to help me on those days when I need him most. I get so sad when I think about all they have lost, I feel as if I am grieving three times right now, for what I have lost and for what my two little girls have lost and the fact that they cannot quite understand all of it right now. The big picture for me is that they are the two that have lost more than anyone here, they are the two who truly got the short end of the stick. I had him for almost 7 years, but they were short changed the most, they only had a few short years with him. My heart breaks for them time and time again and I think that this is the hardest part for me. Somedays I do not know how I am going to move past this, somedays I do not know how I am going to keep going forward without him to help me with our girls. I know I have to, I know I do not have a choice, but.......I just feel so confused and alone about this right now. I feel as if no one can understand this feeling that I am having, that unless you have walked in these shoes, you cannot understand it, you cannot quite grasp all it is that I am feeling. I do not even know if I would want someone to be able to give me the answers I need or be able to tell me that they have gone throuh this, I just feel so alone, sad for my girls, and sad for myself and all of us that have lost through Joel's death.
Thursday, March 16, 2006
Today started out as a very good day, then it started to roll down hill this afternoon. The girls and I had our pictures taken today for the local newspaper. It should be a good article, that part I am sure of, the picture part of it, a heck of a lot harder than I thought it would be. They first took some family photo's, then they wanted a picture of me with the flag box. I have it out in my living room, with a picture of the girls and a statue of a soldier and Jesus that my Aunt D gave me. It is a nice tribute to my husband. I have not looked inside the flag box in a very long time, I think that is my way of handeling things and making it easier. Some may call it a little of denial. Sitting there with the open flag box, holding it in my hands, waiting for the photo's to be taken, it seemed like an eternity. I am pretty sure a few of the shots he took had a tear or two running down my face. It was a lot more difficult than I thought it would be and it brought a lot of pain that I was not expecting. I had not put the box back onto the shelf yet, it was still sitting on the kitchen table. Faith was sitting next to it, doing a puzzle and I looked up to see her sitting there, flag box open. She is repeating, CPT Joel Eric Cahill, over and over. She is touching the flag, touching all of his awards( by now I am sitting with her) and she is askin me what the awards mean. I am trying my hardest not to cry, becuase I don't want her to think she needs to stop because mama is crying. I told her what the awards meant, the ones I knew, explained all of his badges and what they meant. We have a book that my sister in law G put together that has an explanation of the awards, I asked her if she wanted it, she no, this is enough. Then I got up and I heard her saying, Army, Army, Army......I went and sat with her again and she looked at me, with the saddest eyes and said, "mama, I guess he was important, huh?" I said yes honey he was, very important. She said he still is mama, to all of us. I wanted to lay down and baul, just sob, but I smiled the best I could and said, yes ma'am you are absolutely right. My five year old, she gets it better than I do sometimes. It broke my heart to hear her say those things, things a five year old should not say. At the same time, it made me so happy for her, she is understanding and accepting her papa's death, she knows he is gone and now she is understanding that he was important, and still is. Out of the mouth's of babes comes the best wisdom sometimes. I am so very proud of her, her strength and her attitude.
All day yesterday I would look at my little Bren, the one I always thought has resembled more of the Cahill clan than Faith, the way her hair was laying and her little eyes peeking out from under her bangs, God she looked like Joel. I was watching her eat breakfast and all I could do was stare and try not to cry. I thought, holy crap, she looks just like some of Joel's pictures when he was little. I know I will see this almost daily and I know some days it will be hard, but for now, it is a blessing. A blessing that we had these two little girls, a blessing that they are here with me, healthy and safe. Although seeing her looking so much like him is hard at times, it is also what gets me through those moments and days that I am not sure how I am going to do it. Thank God for my girls, my husband and what I still have to hold on to.
Tuesday, March 14, 2006
These are the pictures I have written about a time or two. This is how I want to remember Joel, his strong cheek bones, his sharp, straight nose, his sharp defined chin, his dark hair and most definatly his irish eyes and his smile. I used to tease him about his smile all the time, sometimes he would conceal it and other times it would come shining through. I loved his smile. This is the photo that Faith took of us the day he left, I love this photo of us. You can see the smile in his eyes as we wait for "his Faith" to snap a photo. You can see the love in his eyes and on his face. I look at this photo a lot and sometimes I find myself thinking, I cannot wait to see him again, only to realize, I hopefuly(godwilling) have a lifetime until I see him and can hold him again. I know I will see him in my dreams, but this is how I want to remember him, this is how I want him to look in my dreams. I know in time, my dreams will stop being about what I thought he may have looked like after the accident. This photo Joel snapped, we wanted to have one of us before he left, and we wanted to make sure it turned out, I think that Faith's picture turned out a little better, but this one is special to me too. I remember us laughing while he was pointing the camera at us, I was trying to get a little more even with his head and kept stumbeling or pulling him over. It was quite comical and I think of that as I look at this photo. I remember holding onto him, thinking, man how I am going to miss hugging him, his strong arms....little did I know.....little did I know how much I was going to miss..... The day after Joel died, I had been up almost all night and had been awake all day, crying, making decisions....finally I decided to lay down for a little bit, hoping to get a little rest. I remember laying in my bed, crying, praying, talking to Joel. I remember this like it was yesterday, I rolled over so my back was facing the side of the bed Joel slept on, I could not look at his side of the bed. I remember feeling this warm feeling and a little pressure on my back, like someone was there, I remember feeling this warmth go across left arm and onto my hand, like someone was trying to hold me. I think I finally drifted off for a little bit then, and woke up feeling a little bit better, I know that was Joel, trying to comfort me and hold me one last time. I think that was one of the very early signs for me that he will be with me, always. After talking to S the other day, he had told me that when he saw Joel, after the accident, he looked at peace, that he thought he was already on his way to be with the girls and I, I think he was right, I think Joel was with me the moment I found out but it was until I laid down that I finally "felt" him with me and knew that he was with me. Thank God for that, and also for those people that are helping me through this, giving me bits of information that will help me move along in this process. As I look back at these pictures and and think back through this whole process I am going through, I realize how powerful many of these moments have been. How far these powerful moments have taken me. I am so greatful.
I beleive in signs, sings from God or signs from our loved ones who have passed before us. Today I was in my car, looking for my check book and a pen. I knew there was not a pen in the car because I had searched it yesterday, found a broken one and threw it out. There was not another one in site. I found my check book, and realized, there is not a pen in here, I will have to wait until I get to the school to write the check. I looked over at my passenger seat and there sitting ontop of the papers in the seat(ones I just layed there a few minutes earlier), there was a black pen. The ball point type that the Army buys in bulk(the ones with the caps), Joel always had at least two of these in his BDU blouse top, and at least two in the car. I have found some of these pens in our office as I have been cleaning and organizing. Today, when I saw that pen, I just stared at it, almost driving off of the road. I picked it up, held it and just cried, not sure what to think. I knew there was not a pen in the car and certainly not one like this. I use the retractable kind so I don't have to worry about caps. I looked at the cap and I saw bit marks on the cap, Joel always chewed on his caps when he was thinking or rereading what he was just working on. I knew this was a sign from Joel, I knew it was his way of telling him that he was with me then. I was having a tough moment then, and was not sure what to do about it. I had gone up to see S, someone who used to work with Joel. I had been thinking about going up there, but I decided at the last minute to do it. I am so glad I did, it was a good conversation and it also gave me some answers and validity to some of my dreams. Even though it was great to chat with this person and spend some time with them, it was also a little draining and difficult at the same time and I was crying the whole way home. When I saw that pen, I just knew that Joel was with me, that this was his way of telling me that he is always with me through those difficult moments.
Monday, March 13, 2006
Tonight the girls and I read a book that a friend sent us, it is called "I miss You". Faith picked it out, and I was surprised, because this is the same book that many times she has asked me to stop reading. Tonight though, it was much different and it was proof to me of how far she has come in these last four months. As we were reading this book, there are parts, that have you ask the child what they think about loosing a loved one, how it makes them feel, and if they know how their loved one died. I asked the girls these questions, at first neither one of them said anything. Then Faith piped in and said, "papa died mama and it makes me feel bad". I asked her what she meant by bad, so she said it made her feel sad and miss him. Bren said, "it makes me want to kiss him more mama". Do you know how hard it is to read a story, and not try to cry so your kids don't think it makes you upset? It is nearly impossible, but I did it. We kept reading and then when I asked the girls if they knew why papa died, Faith immediately said, "the bad men in Iraq hurt papa and he went to heaven mama". I said, I know honey, but those men made a "bomb" and that is what hurt papa so much that his body could not work anymore. She said, I know. Bren then said, "mama, there was a big boom and papa went to heaven and is our angel". Thank God the story was over. After thinking about it for a while, I realized that this was all good stuff and it was another reinforced that the girls are coming along, that I am doing the right things for the girls. What ever I am doing, and I am not completely sure what that is but being myself, it is the right thing and that was a powerful moment for me. I know I could not do this without the love and support of family and friends, so I am so thankful for all that is happening right now. Where we are at this early point and hopefully how far we can go. I am not fooling myself though, I know we will still have some hard days coming up, but we will get through those, just like the ones we have already gotten through.
Sunday, March 12, 2006
Yesterday evening was Faith's birthday party, it went off without a hitch, I think. It was a lot of fun for both of the girls. It was a little stressful for me, I know if Joel had been there, it would not have been so stressful, but he would have had a blast. I found myself thinking that many times, he would have been playing, talking with the kids, just plain tickled to see how much fun the two girls were having with all of their friends and having our first "big girl" party. There was nothing he loved more than seeing his babes having fun and being happy. He loved to be the one to bring the happiness to them too, with whatever little thing he could do to make them smile or giggle. At one point I found myself getting quite teary, watching the girls, seeing some of the parent's interacting with the kids, I missed him a lot then. At one point, Brenna came up to me and asked to see papa, I was a little baffled at first, but then I remember my locket with Joel's picture in it(Joel's brother and sister-in-law gave it to me a few weeks ago and the girls love looking at papa's picture and giving him a kiss). So I picked her up, she opened up my locket, looked at the picture and said, I miss you papa, I love you. I just smiled, fighting back the tears, and she gave him a big kiss and then took the locket and put it up to my face, making a kissing noise and telling me it was a kiss from papa. I could not hold back the tears then, it was next to impossible and it just made me miss him more. I know it was my little girls way of comforting me and seeing that mama needed a kiss and hug right then, but still......
All in all, it was a good day and the girls all enjoyed themselves. We will make it, even on these days when I wish he was here to help me, support me, and enjoy these life moments that make a child's day.
Today is a wonderful, beautiful day here in GA. It is the type of day that Joel and I loved, spring was his favorite time of year here in GA, along with fall. This is the type of day that we would have started out with a lazy day, then either gotten the bikes loaded up and headed out to Callaway Gardens or down town to the river walk and taken a very long, peaceful bike ride along with a picnic. If there was a lot of yard work to do(like there is today) we would have been outside, cleaning up, playing with the girls and just enjoying the day and the sun. As I was cleaning up more dog poop, I remembered Joel's promise to me to be my pooper scooper when he got home. Another moment that I miss him a lot. The day started out pretty well, but the more I think about the day, the activities we would have been doing, the more I miss him, the more I hurt, the more I realize how much I depended on him and was looking forward to him coming home this winter. I realize how much the girls and I have lost.
Thursday, March 09, 2006
Well, I made the number one mistake today that you should never, never make with kids. The girls and I have been talking about getting a puppy, a little pet therapy I guess. Tonight, I did not want to come home after dinner, some nights I just find myself wanting to be away from the house, not facing the memories and feelings. So, what do I do? I take the girls to the pet store, we start looking at puppies. I saw one puppy, a weimenweiner(sp??) and I thought, oh....Joel(I wanted to get this dog, but I knew it would be to hard to look at daily). I don't know what it is about that breed of dogs, but every time I see that breed, the nose. the eyes and the hair color remind me of Joel. I told him this once, shortly before his death and I remember his response like it was yesterday, "what a compliment, I look like a dog" I laughed and said, "no hon, a very beautiful dog looks like you!" Another comical moment on the phone. Anyways, as I was looking at that dog, I saw this little cocker spaniel in the back and she was so darn cute, with little chocolate/tan spots. I asked to see her, and they brought her out, that was the end of it, the girls had to have her, so did I. I asked the girls wanted they wanted to name her, Faith of course said, Erica. This is a name that she has used for all of her dolls for a long time. Joel and I used to joke about it, saying that she adapted it from his middle name, Eric. I frequently called him Joel Eric in front of the girls, so they knew papa's "whole name". She has started using it a lot more since Joel passed. I almost let her name her that, but it was to hard and it just did not flow for a dog name. So we came up with Maggie, we thought it went well with Max(our golden retreiver). So far Maggie has been good for all of us, including Max, but especially for the girls and for me tonight too.
For those of you who knew Joel and his love for coffee, you would know how excited he would be over a new Starbucks opening here in Columbus(just a few miles from the house). They started building one a month or two after Joel went back from R and R. I immediatly thought, Joel will be so excited! That day when I spoke to him on the phone, he had asked me start sending him some tea, he wanted to stop drinking coffee! What!! My Joel, not drink coffee, unreal! So, me being a smart a** said, "so, if I told you they were building a starbucks, you wouldn't care at all and would not go for your Carmel Machiatto daily?" He said, "Your always trying to be funny, huh?" Anyways, it was a comical moment and when I drove by the building today, for the first time in a long time, I just sat at the stop light and bauled, over darn Starbucks! I know it was much more than that, but still. I used to love Carmel Machiatto's as much as Joel, but I have not been able to have one yet. Faith loves the "whop cream that papa let me lick mama". She still cannot say whipped cream, so if we go to get coffee anywhere, she will always ask me to get the drink that papa liked so she can "lick the whop cream". Good memories are here, and I know as we all grow, she will start talking more of these memories and we all will laugh, cry and enjoy these memories. For now, Starbucks is not an easy place for me to go. When in DC, I had received a Starbucks card in a care package from a very good friend, I could not use it and it is still in my purse. I guess it was so hard to walk into any of those DC Starbucks. As silly as that sounds, it was. Joel and I had a crazy Starbucks routine while we were in DC. He would pull over, downtown DC, I would hop out, run in to get the coffee, he would drive around the block, once or twice and pick me up at the corner with the coffees. It was pretty funny, and now that I think about it, that is only something him and I would do to minimize having to get the girls out of the car and haul them into the crowded shops. Thinking and writing about this brings a smile to my face right now, I know Joel would be laughing if he were here with me going over this great memory with me.
Wednesday, March 08, 2006
I feel like a broken record is playing in my head today, I cannot get past this one thought and it is driving me crazy. I am 29, mother of 2, widow and my Joel is not coming home, ever. All day, I keep thinking this, not knowing how to get past it, not knowing what to do with myself. I know I will get past it, I just don't know how right now.
Tuesday, March 07, 2006
I never have cried over a meal before, never. Today it happened twice, augh! I made broccoli and rice for the girls, they love it, with butter. This was one of Joel's favorite meals, he loved it and asked for it frequently. I think I made it at least three times a week when we were first married, not only because it was his favorite, but because I was still getting "good" at cooking and this was pretty hard to screw up. Faith has started asking for this frequently and today was the first time I made it for her by request, I cried and cried as it was cooking, thinking damn it, Joel would be so proud of his little Faith, loving his favorite food. He would probably sit with her and eat the whole dish, just the two of them. Often we would make a big pot of it, and between the two of us, that would be all we ate for diner. I know he would do the same with his Faith. Knowing that this will never happen, makes me want to try even harder and more desperately to make sure these two know who their papa was, understand him and remember him. I think knowing that this huge task is up to me, is part of my pain today, knowing that I need to make a conscious effort daily, even when I am having a hard day, I still need to make Joel a part of our day. I still cannot believe that I cried over rice tonight, but I guess it is the memories that are making me cry, not the food, and because I have the memories I am grateful....These memories will keep me going and help me and the girls get through this.
As I sit here, thinking about everything I need to get done in my home, thinking I should get up and get moving, I just want to sit here, not move....Rethink and relive some of the memories. I have been doing it all morning, since the time I woke up, taking the girls to school, running......Does this feeling ever go away? Some days I want it too, but some days I don't, I just want to absorb it in and let it consume me. The practical, mommy part of me tells myself, I can't, it affects the girls on when I do this, they get sad, irritable and are constantly making sure it is not them that mama is upset with. I am having one of those days right now, I just want it to consume me, let it take me down to that low, only to have to pick myself up later. I don't know if it is the fact that yesterday was truly the 4 month mark, or conversations I have had, or just the plain fact that my husband is not with me anymore. These are days that I feel completely at a loss, not sure which way to go, what to do, or how to act. I get through it, somehow, and it makes me stronger, each and every day. I know, from past experience, that this is all a part of the process, but there are days that I just wish the process had an "easy" button, or a timeline so I knew exactly when and where these moments were going to occur and know how long they are going to last. Oh, if life were that simple........
Monday, March 06, 2006
Today started out good, I have been conscious of the date all day, but I guess I have started reminding myself that it is a date, nothing more, nothing life altering, that this is mearly another mark of how far the girls and I have come, that we are surviving and making the most of each day, for the most part. This thought, as much as I can remind myself of it on the 6th of each month, it is all rosy and good, but when the moments hit, they hit and no matter how much I try to tell myself that it is only a date, it still hurts. Today, I am picking things up for Faith's birthday party this weekend, and as I am walking through Micheal's, looking around, I came across the foamies display, they are those sticky foam stickers that you can stick to just about anything. Well we would buy those a lot last year and make "crafts" for papa, we made picture frames, door knob hangers, pictures...things with their names and I Love You Papa on it. I walked past those, all most picked some up and started feeling that heaviness in my throat and chest and thought, "oh no, not in the store, I am not going to break down in the store". So I put them down, walked away and distracted myself by looking at something else, only to realize that this to brought on another near breakdown, I was looking at pictures to put up in my home, and I thought myself thinking, I wonder if Joel would like this. The memories of four months ago came rushing back, I almost left without my stuff, but I knew I had to be strong, there will be days when those moments will get me so hard that I have to leave, but if I push a little on these days, I will make it. It seems that moods and emotions can change in the blink of an eye, random little things bringing on a rush of sorrow and pain. I realize that this will continue for a long time to come, that this pain will crop up when I least expect it, no matter what I am telling myself or how I am trying to handle it.
Sunday, March 05, 2006
Not only is today Sunday, it is also pretty much(minus one day) the fourth month since Joel's passing. I can hardly beleive it has been that long, many days it seems like yesterday, but on the other hand, it seems like an eternity has gone by. I guess some of that has to do with Joel being gone for nearly a year before his death. I have reflected back on the day I found out, memories I have recounted more than I care to count, the days everyone came here, the memorial service, the funeral, going through his clothing and other belongings, packing away awards, pictures and other military momento's Joel hung onto and displayed, going to the airfield and welcoming home Joel's good friend B., watching the soldiers march in, breaking inside because I knew Joel would not be there, handing out bracelets to his Company knowing that this was going to be difficult for them and myself...the dedication on Friday.....today. The day I watched the soldiers march into the airport for their welcome home ceremony....what a moment. What a feeling of sorrow, grief, pain, but also pride and greatfulness. Yes greatfulness, I was so greatful that this many men made it home, that this many families were reunited, for me I knew how Joel beleived, how he loved the Army and that he was proud of all he did, all he accomplished in his life and was still proud of all the soldiers of 3ID. I had to be proud and joyful too, as hard as it was to see, I was still filled with pride. Part of that was my husband and what he taught me in our nearly 7 years together, but also a lot of that was my own military pride, wanting nothing more than to support and honor all of our soldiers. I think back to that day often, and all I can remember is feeling a weight off of my shoulders shortly after that, a sense of closure. As I think about it today, I am so greatful that I did this, as crazy as some thought I was and still do, I am proud of myself for doing this, how for I have come since that day, the fact that I saw these soldiers and knew that my husband was not going to come off of any of those planes, the sense of closure I had after that day. I think back to the day I went up to Arlington, as hard as it was, and yes again, as crazy as some thought I was for going up again so soon after his death, I am so greatful that I did, again the sense of closure that it gave me again, seeing his headstone, the name, the dates.....knowing that it is truly set in stone this time, he truly is in his final resting place. All these things that I have done, as hard as they have been, they have brought me to a different place, a better place in my grieving and have made me realize and understand more about myself, my abilities and my love for my husband and my children, how far I will go to show my love to them. Because at the end of the day, what I do for myself reflects onto my children and how I handle my grief and what I do for it, this shows my children what a strong and capable mother and women looks like. All I do, I do for myself and my children, no one else. This is what matters most. So on this day, the fourth month mark I realize how important my strength is for myself and my girls, how far we all have come in these long months and see how much more we can acheive in our grieving process in the next few months. I know it will not be easy and we will have long days ahead of us, but we have made it this far, and I know we can make it further. We are all strong girls. Joel would be proud.
Well the girls and I survived this long weekend since Wednesday. It was a whirlwind, but I think the speed of this weekend is what got me through it, among other things and people. Wednesday went very well, better than I anticipated it would go. I was very nervous that Faith, even though she understands that Papa is in heaven and we won't see him until we go to heaven(in her words), I was fearful that she would ask me where her present was. Last year, Joel wanted to get her a computer, she loves computers, and so he searched and searched and found the "perfect one, a Barbie computer". So, he tried to order it, but it was on back order, so I picked it up, took it to the Mailbox store I went to frequently, and they boxed it up and we gave it to Faith like she got a package from her papa, she was so excited and proud that Papa did it just for her. I was worried she would expect the same thing this year and it broke my heart to think of explaining it to her. We talked about Papa that day, but it was that we missed him and that was it. My fears of all the memories of five years ago, were not what I expected, I remembered a lot about that day, but they brought me much solace and some joy to rethink and relive some of those memories. Friday was the memorial service at Creighton University, ROTC Department, where Joel and I met, then a year later fell in love and married. That was difficult, I walked into that building and so many memories came flooding back, but I was so busy with everyone, that I could not pay them much attention at the time, but as soon as we sat to start the dedication, my mind raced, I remembered so many things, especially a day where I burst into the room (the same room the dedication was in, with the podium in the same place where Joel was standing then), Joel was giving a block of instruction and I said, "Hey!!......., oops". Joel looked at me like I was crazy, but he had that twinkle in his eye and the smile I loved and everyone laughed. They were all good memories, but it was still hard, however, I am so greatful that I was there, experienced them and had the support and love of a faculty that wanted to honor one of their "own". The support extended past the faculty of CU ROTC, it went to many friends, siblings of friends, faculty from the school of nursing, and many other people whom I was honored to have there in honor of my husband. It was difficult to see so many who knew me then, and to know that they were there for me, my girls and mostly my husband. The support of so many friends, whom I had the opportunity to talk with, cry, and laugh with was undoubtedly the biggest support of the whole weekend, I am so greatful that they were there for me. However, it was a good day, a blessed day and it ended with a good birthday party that I know my husband would have loved to have been there for, swimming with his girls, his nieces and nephews, laughing with us. I know he was with us in spirit though, laughing out loud with that smile on his face, that twinkle in his eye and proud of his girls, all three of us.
Wednesday, March 01, 2006
I took the girls to church this morning before taking them to school, they both wanted to go and get the "stamp" on their forhead. Faith was proud that she will receive ashes twice today, once with mama and once with her class. As we were sitting there, I saw a soldier(hair cut gave it away), with crutches and a knee brace(or what I thought was a knee brace), then I saw him going back to his seat after receiving ashes, it was not a knee brace at all, it was his dressing for his below the knee amputation, I knew then that he had been injured and his life forever altered in this war. I felt so strongly that I needed to thank him for his service and his sacrifice, him and his wife. So after church, I went up to him, thanked him, he smiled and said thank you, it is for those little ones like yours. I was starting to cry a little, trying hard not to because I did not want to make this about me, but I felt I had to explain my tears. So I told him my husband was KIA in November, he just looked at me, held our his arms and hugged me. It was a very powerful moment for me, this is the first soldier that I have thanked, besides my husband and his soldiers the day I handed out bracelets. This was the first man that I thanked individually, I felt proud, sad and humbled all at the same time. I know this moment was meant to happen, it has given me some sort of solace today and I am not sure why. I will take it for what it is and let my day be what it is supposed to be, asking for strength every moment of this day.