Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The Best

God saw you getting tired and a cure was not to be. So he put his arms around you and .whispered "My child come to me". With tearful eyes I watched you, and saw you fade away. Although I loved you dearly, I wouldn't make you stay. A golden heart stopped beating, hard working hands at rest.
God broke my heart to prove to me he only takes the best.

Monday, September 20, 2010

What Do You Say. . .It Makes Everything Else Seem So Small

These past weeks have been such an education for me. I think I always underestimate myself and as my amazing support system tells me, I have to stop doing that junk. I am my worst critic. My patience, faith, strength, problem solving skills, and my parenting have come under stress.

Week before last, the Navy & Marine Corps Nurse they assigned to help me specifically with "my stuff" came for her first visit. I bet you are wondering what all I do that I need my own person to help me. Better yet you are probably wondering why Jon's case nurse can't help me too. Where Jon's needs are vast and specific, it is simply too much to put on one poor person who already runs herself ragged to help my husband.

I have health care for four people to coordinate, a house to run, two kids to raise who have very different personalities, a move to get ready for, dishes to wash, laundry to wash dry and fold, and then when all of that is done I have me to take care of.

I get so tired of hearing people preach and preach and lecture and talk at and down to me because I don't put myself first. For me it is this simple. My family needs me and I will take care of them first, it is who I am so deal with it. Can someone please tell me when it became a bad thing for a mother and wife to put her family first? Why is it such an awful thing that I put my family's needs before my own?

I am so tired of being lectured about knowing my limits and needing to ask for help instead of taking it all on myself if all I am going to get is criticism about how bad I suck at doing it. Why am I going to ask for help if you want to make me feel bad about it? Doesn't that defeat the purpose?

This lady comes to my house and brings Jon's nurse along with her and proceeds to start her whole long mess. Here is the major points I got from that meeting.

1 - I am too organized and I need to practice living in the day.
2 - I should sleep more than I do to the exclusion of my family
3 - I should put myself first always
4 - Caleb is slow because I don't let him ride a tricycle
5 - Caleb should be more talkative
6 - Caleb needs to see a speech therapist (this I agree with)
7 - Caleb is developmentally behind because he can't trace his own hand (any parent of a toddler and a baby at the same time will know why I don't give my child sharp objects.
8 - I apparently and stark raving mad and therefore completely unable to see a counselor. .I need a real professional to deal with my multitude of crazy
9 - I am a crappy parent because I choose to deal with my anxiety and depression without the aid of medication. ..I am not saying that I look down on people who do take them. .It is just my personal preference to NOT be dependent on any medication what so ever. Depression runs in my family but luckily I had an amazing OB team who worked diligently and put a lot of time and effort into helping me learn about my triggers and alternate treatments.
10 - Because I refuse to take medications, I am a crappy parent because dealing with it myself sends the wrong message.
11 - My hyper-vigilance is un-necessary and shows signs of my "deeper issues"(Never mind that Jon used to pace and walk at all hours of the night which causes this in the first place. . that and I have two small children both with medical issues of their own)
12 - I should practice living in the day because schedules and maintaining routines apparently make me a crappy parent

Now correct me if I am wrong but wasn't the idea of you coming to me to HELP? By the time these two ladies left I felt two inches tall and was reduced to tears. Was it really necessary to attack everything about me? I know my life and idiosyncrasies are far from perfect but right now those habits you deem "unhealthy" are what keeps my family afloat and functioning.

You tell me my child is slow. .I tell you that he functions and thinks better than most 6 year olds. No I don't let him use markers and pencils. .he tends to run with them and try to attack his brother. Umm not going to happen. I will take their safety over being able to trace his hand any day. Yes he does have a speech issue but his affliction is one that is maternally dominant in my family. It is easily fixed with time and patience.

No I haven't potty trained Caleb yet, but that doesn't make him slow. It means that I feel like giving my children more structure, stability, fun, and making them feel safe and loved means more to me than getting out of changing a few more diapers. I am not going to force something I don't feel like my son is ready for. Could he potty train. .most certainly because he tells me when he needs a diaper change and tell me what he has done. Am I going to force it? You have another thing coming sister if you think I will. We are moving soon and he will regress anyways. So why not store my time and energy to when we move so it can be a consistent thing? Makes sense doesn't it? Now would someone please call these people and tell them that?

Caleb is a freakishly smart, always curious, loud, rambunctious, and very open hearted and I encourage it in every possible way. So is Andrew. My boys are spoiled absolutely rotten, hugged and kissed obsessively, cuddled, and told how much I love them on a daily basis. If that makes me an awful mother then yes. . yes I am. I won't change that for anyone, least of all for a close minded harpy who thinks being a good parent means over medicating oneself.

If putting my husband and children first makes me crazy. . then yes I am. If refusing to rely on medications to make myself feel better when I can do it without them makes me a horrible parent.. . then apparently I am going to hell in a hand basket.

God works in mysterious ways. I have never been more sure of that than I am right now. I feel like through all of this mess he is showing me just how strong I can be and am. I do need to work on that one.

Two songs have really wormed their ways out of the woodwork in the past two weeks. Listen to them. Peace, comfort, and wisdom can be found in the words of a well written song.

Clint Black - Spend My Time

How can we know how far,
The long way can be?
Looking from where we are,
It never seemed that long to me.
I've many miles behind me,
Maybe not so much ahead.
It seems I made good time,
With the directions I misread.

So I'm gonna spend my time,
Like it's going out of style.
I'm moving the bottom line,
Farther than a country mile.
I still have hills to climb,
Before I hit that wall.
No matter how much time I buy,
I can never spend it all.

Funny thing, that time:
We're always running out.
I'm always losing mine,
There's not enough of it about.
An' though it's always here,
It will always come and go.
The days become the years,
That'll be gone before you know.

So I'm gonna spend my time,
Like it's going out of style.
I'm moving the bottom line,
Better than a country mile.
I still have hills to climb,
Before I hit that wall.
I won't go quietly into that dark night.
There'll be no more burnin' daylight.
I'll be living in,
Every moment that I'm in.

Oh,I'm gonna spend my time,
Like it's going out of style.
I'll only use what's mine,
I've been savin' for a while.
I still have hills to climb,
Before I hit that wall.

No matter how much time I buy,
I can never spend it all.
No matter how much time we buy,
We can never spend it all.

Seems so fitting doesn't it. Living in a world where everything is constantly changing and the only certainty you have is that change is imminent you really learn this. Time is precious because you never know what will happen tomorrow. I know without a fact that I am spending my time like it's going out of style and cataloging every memory.. .Can you say the same? When was the last time you really sat down and looked at the blessing that surround you or immersed yourself in something as simple as a thunderstorm? Do it. .everyone should.

Carrie Underwood - So Small

What you got if you ain't got love?
The kind that you just wanna give away
It's okay to open up
Go ahead and let the light shine through

I know it's hard on a rainy day
You wanna shut the world out
And just be left alone
But don't run out on your faith

'Cause sometimes that mountain you've been climbing
Is just a grain of sand
And what you've been out there searching for forever
Is in your hands

And when you figure out
Love is all that matters after all
It sure makes everything else
Seem so small

It's so easy to get lost inside
A problem that seems so big at the time
It's like a river that's so wide
It swallows you whole

While you're sitting around thinking 'bout what you can't change
And worrying about all the wrong things
Time's flying by, moving so fast
You better make it count 'cause you can't get it back

Sometimes that mountain you've been climbing
Is just a grain of sand
And what you've been out there searching for forever
Is in your hands

Oh, and when you figure out
Love is all that matters after all
It sure makes everything else
Seem so small!

Sometimes that mountain you've been climbing
Is just a grain of sand
And what you've been out there searching for forever
Is in your hands

And then you figure out
Love is all that matters after all
It sure makes everything else
Oh, it sure makes everything else
Seem so small

In the end when you figure out that loves is really all that really matters everything else does seem so small. Sometimes that mountain you've been climbing is just a grain of sand and what you've been out there searching for forever is in your hands. . .Does anything else matter? Nope!

In parting I leave you this thought.

If you are really happy with yourself and your decisions then hang everyone else. Only you can really know when enough is enough and you are where you were always meant to be. Live life to YOUR expectations and no one elses and never settle for anything less than what you want or deserve.

Always remember this. . Que sera, sera. ..Whatever will be, will be and nothing can change that. You are right where you were always meant to be. God knows what he is doing. Trust that.


Thursday, September 16, 2010

Rough Nights. . One Step Forward, Two Steps Back

That old saying. .one step forward, two steps back seems a perfect place to start. With everything going on in our lives as of late, I expected it to hit eventually. Jon is doing great. He is continuing to improve more and more everyday. But lately it seems where he advances in some places he falls back in others. Now let me explain.

The other day we went out for our family night. We took the kids to IHop to eat. Well for the first time ever he sat with his back to the door! He didn't turn around or look over his shoulder once. I started crying my eyes out into my hash browns. He asked me what was wrong. I told him and his face broke out in the most pure and beautiful smile I have ever seen from another person. He did it without even noticing. Great right! That is a huge step for him and I couldn't be prouder.

The two steps back seems to be that his memory methods aren't working as great right now. For me that means extra note cards and lists and color coding. You ask well why do that, he is a grown man. You are right, he is a grown man.

He is a grown man who suffered a brain injury which healed without proper treatment. All things contained in the part of his brain that was injured poofed! Which means his short and long term memories took a beating, his processing took a beating, his ability to retain things took a hit too. All of these things can and will be treated but it takes time. A lot of time and hard work and effort on all of our parts to make sure he gets that back.

So for those of you who are wondering, well what does that mean? It means this. There are colored and white note cards on ever door in this house. They tell you what that room is for, each child's night time routine, each child's medication dosages, reminders to turn off lights and set alarms and reminders of medications and work times and things needed for said outing. It's a lot of work. Time and tears and frustration have gone into every aspect of our lives. It is so heartbreaking to see such a strong, willful, smart, amazing man struggle with day to day simplicities.

When it comes to work he can run off every piece of information you need at the drop of a hat. But when it comes to simple things like which child takes what medication he is lost. It hurts to see him that way because I know how strong and capable he is. He is the most amazing man with a heart of gold that it gets mixed up in things he can't remember

Last night was a rough one, our first in almost 7 months. I knew it was coming but I prayed it wouldn't. The tears and talking were just preludes to what was coming. I woke up at two o clock this morning pinned to the bed with the ball of his foot repeatedly making contact with my right shin and foot. He just kept saying " Let go you bastard, you aren't getting me this time".. .shocking I know. It was tame compared to some of the others he has had in the past years. I disentangled myself and crawled into the floor to wait it out. This one was relatively short as he opened his eyes a mere five minutes later and instantly found me in the floor. I was sitting against the wall rubbing my right foot attempting to uncurl the knot of pain that had taken up residence. He coaxed me back into bed, curled up around me, and went sound asleep. It was a relief.

The rest of the night passed without incident as he slept so soundly that he snored. One of the best things in the world for me is to see his brow relaxed, a smile tugging at the corners of his mouth, and his body relaxed in sleep.

Another day, another night, another step forward, two steps back. It is impossible not to see the many blessing in my life when I fight so hard for them.

I am bone tired, impossibly sore, feeling like crap, and I am curling up in my bed with my hubby man as we listen to our boys snore down the hall. Is my life perfect? Oh no. Is it hard? Most certainly. The best part is I love every single second of it.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Fallen Hero. . Having a GOD Day

My daddy always tells me, "I hope you have a GOD day sweetheart." At first I wondered, a God day? What can he mean by that. That is usually about the time that I get smacked in the face with one of God's ways of telling me. I am here Rebecca, just look.

The first time he said this to me I walked outside into the most beautiful day. I passed a family playing catch in the park, and I passed a father leaning down to catch his running child in his arms with a huge hug.

This past week I had my GOD day. Really I think it was my biggest God day to date. It wasn't a normal circumstance, no. However, in the span of just a few hours I was shown just how real, honest, simple, humbling, awe inspiring, and heartbreaking the hands of God can be in a persons life.

This past week I traveled to Pennsylvania in support of a fellow Marine Corps S/O. To me, it just didn't seem right that she go through that without knowing she had people behind her that understood that part of her life so I along with three others traveled the distance to stand behind our "sister" while she welcomed home her love. It wasn't a homecoming any military wife, girlfriend, fiance, or family member dreams of, in fact it was our worst nightmares come to life.

On September 2nd, this American Hero fell in combat while in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. I don't know a single person surrounding the situation that didn't shed an abundance of tears for this young life that was ended too soon. He died a hero and was brought home in a manner befitting one.

While driving through the gorgeous hills and mountains of Pennsylvania I was gripped by this overwhelming sense of peace and calm. It was beautiful. Driving through this town on our way to the funeral home, I was again struck by just how beautiful this was. This amazing young man was loved and supported by all and therefore he was also mourned and celebrated by all. I didn't pass a street light or store front that wasn't decked out in yellow ribbons, American flags, or messages welcoming this fallen hero home. As we drove through the streets making our way closer to the funeral home, tears started to fall from my eyes. I had never seen something so heart wrenching before. As a Marine Wife yeah I have known more than one fallen hero but never like this.

As we entered the funeral home, we passed through the ranks of the Patriot Guard. They stood there so tall and so proud with their eyes focused straight ahead holding their flags in their hands. No one moved, and no one spoke. They just stood there blanketed in silence out of respect for the man inside who unknowingly touched so many lives.

Passing through the rooms of the home, we passed a multitude of people who had already congregated to pay their respects. Turning into the main room what I saw made my breath lodge in my throat and turned my stomach so violently that I had to walk straight back out before I broke down and cried. A few minutes later I gathered my self and walked back into the room. What I saw next would change my definition of love, grace, strength, support, and poise.

Standing beside the casket gazing lovingly down at her hero was the long time girlfriend of this fallen Marine. There weren't any words to describe the look of joy and pride in her eyes to finally have him home, even though it wasn't in the way she had prayed for when he left mere weeks ago. As I walked forward and wrapped my arms around her, I couldn't find the words to tell her how sorry I was. No matter how long or hard I tried to find them, they just weren't there. In the end all I could come up with was "I'm so sorry. We can't hurt for you even though we would give anything to do so, but we will stand behind you and hurt with you. We will hold you up if you find you don't have the strength to stand on your own."

Afterward, we took our places in the back of the parlor to sit silently until the time came and we were needed. Over the span of the next 8 and a half hours, we watched silently as person after person filed in and out of the room paying their respects to this man who had lain down his life for his country. It was apparent how loved and respected he was.

His brothers stood proud and tall by his side, their eyes shining with pride and love for him. They would adjust their ties and uniforms, straighten their ribbons, check their brother, and then resume their places by his side. It was impossible to miss, their pride, love, and hurt over their brother shown from every move they made. As I sat there taking in the room and looking as the lives he touched, I ended up being the one taught a lesson. A brother's love, much like a mother's, knows no bounds and it is something I will carry in my heart always. Through their grief and pain, they somehow found a way to think of us as we filed out for dinner. It was a pleasure and an honor to meet them both.

I sat in the back, watching as his girlfriend would turn ever so often and gaze down at him and smile. A secret smile that only they would know. It was breath taking. That these two amazing people loved each other was felt keenly by every person in the room. Every time she would look down at him and her back would turn on everyone else, my breath would catch at this beautiful girl who even though her heart was breaking smiled and stood tall beside her love. It was palpable and so so humbling to see. She stood there beside him for over eight hours that day with one hand on his casket never turning fully away from him once. Her hand would travel to his dog tag that hung around her neck ever so often.

No matter the circumstance that brought them to that place, they were truly happy that he was home. It was a collective sigh of relief. Through the intervening hours, I heard story after story after story about this man and the lives he inadvertently touched.

Most people live entire life times wondering if they ever made a difference, but the fact that this man not only touched lives, but left lasting fingerprints was a true mark of a hero.

So many things I saw that day will stay with me forever and I am glad. For me this Marine and his beautiful girlfriend symbolized the type of love and devotion that people spend their lives looking for. They worked so hard for each other and together and to even be in the presence of that for a single second was humbling and heart warming.

On September 10th, a full eight days since his life had been taken, this fallen Marine was laid to rest amidst the people that he loved and that loved him on a beautiful day. How very fitting. To know that his life was taken so soon breaks my heart. But to know how he lived and how big of a difference he made.. .Truly humbling.

For a few hours I stood on the outskirts of and in the presence of a great love and a hero who left lasting finger prints on this world.

If that isn't a GOD day I don't know what is. As a parting I leave you with the words to a song.

"I may not go down in history, I just want someone to remember me. I'll probably never dream a dream and watch it turn to gold. I know I'll never lose my life to save another soul. But if I will love then I will find that I have touched another life and that's something. Something worth leaving behind."

He left behind a legacy that will burn bright for years to come in the love he felt for his girlfriend and his family.

He made a difference, touched lives, saved lives, and left his mark on the world.

I only pray that one day I can say the same.


Sunday, September 12, 2010

Quiet Cries and No Words

There aren't any words to accurately describe the last days and I don't really want to try. It would be a shame.

For the past three days now, I have been awoken to the sound of quiet sobs. Not mine. His. Last night may have just been the worse in almost a year.

After 6 hours in the emergency room, we came home, showered, and fell into bed. I did my sleep drill thing and was just drifting off when the bed started to shake. I pulled out my ear plugs and looked over at Jon.

He was completely curled in on himself shaking with the force of his silent tears. Not thinking I reached over to smooth out his brow and try to wake up. Wrong thing to do. I should have known but in all the mess, I wasn't paying attention.

I reached over and as soon as my hand reached him his arm shot out, caught my wrist and his elbow flung into my diaphragm. Whoa! I know right. I disengaged myself and crawled out of bed to wait for it to reach the point I can reach him.

I sat in the floor beside our bed for over an hour while he tossed, turned, swatted, and cried in his sleep. All he would say is. . .

"I'm sorry, so sorry. I let you down."

I buried my face in my hands and cried. I hate seeing him so broken. For the next 45 minutes I watched as one of the strongest people I know struggled with the demons that torment him. Finally, just after 5, his crying stopped. He rolled over to reach for me and when I wasn't there he opened his eyes.

I swear, as of late it feels like all I can do is make things worse. Encouragement and support come out backwards, I stutter like a fool, and most everything I try to write looks like it was written by a crack dealer. I hate this.

I despise being so out of control of my life and there is nothing more I can do. My house is peppered with post it notes and index cards . all detailing the routines and things in my house. I hate being so helpless and useless because all my body can muster right now is an insane rash, high blood pressure, and kidney and liver issues.

Why am I so deficient? This isn't me. . I should be stronger and more solid. . for my husband, and my sons. If someone will just tell me what to do I will do it. I would do most anything for all of them and yet here I sit shaking like a chihuahua scared to death to close my eyes because he might wake up again and need me.

How do I stop failing?

Monday, September 6, 2010

It Brings Back Memories. . .Farther Along

For the past few days my husband has been walking around the house quietly, tossing and turning in his sleep, staring out windows, and keeping to himself. We have gone through a few hard days since we heard about the losses of our friends. I stopped him earlier and asked.

"What's wrong?"

He walked over to the wall that we have our "memorial" on and reached up and lay his hand on the top middle picture and smiled. He turned to look at me and said. .

"This brings back memories. It hurts." and then he walked away.

He is right. Watching our friend suffer the way she is and reading the articles. . It is a flashback. A flash back from 2005-2006 when he was serving in OIF 3..It amazes me how freakishly similar some of these things are too.

On August 21, 2005, after only a month in country, 2/2 G Co. Raiders suffered their first loss. Marine Corps 2nd Lt James J Cathey was killed by an improvised explosive device while conducting combat operations near Al Karmah, Iraq.

It sounds so clinical doesn't it. A simple, generic, general, message that the people over at the DoD cooks up to give families to explain that their loved ones simply are not coming back. It some ways it is a blessing and in others it leaves so many questions unanswered that it drives their families crazy. It doesn't tell you how loved he was as a leader, husband, son, friend or how devastating losing him was to those who were parts of his life.

2nd Lt Cathey was a 24 year old man who was looked up to and respected by those he led and always had a teasing comment. He left behind a wife who was then 5 months pregnant and a legacy in the form of a son just before Christmas that year. He was the type of leader you would follow anywhere.

Most of you will remember the picture that made the Times that year as picture of the year, if not let me show you.

They plastered this picture everywhere. I saw it on the news, on the internet, in the papers, and in books. What they told you was "Passengers aboard a commercial airliner watch from the windows as the casket of a fallen soldier was unloaded from the cargo hold of the plane."

That casket contained the remains of a fallen Marine whose pregnant wife was waiting a mere yards away trying valiantly to hold herself together while they brought her husband back to her in the only way they could. While curious onlookers gawked from their seats aboard the plane and inside the terminals, this woman's goodbye was on public display.

By the time their tour was over, the 2/2 Warlords lost 16 men. Seven of those men were from the G Co. Raiders and six of those alone were from a single platoon.

Thinking back on this breaks my heart every single time. I was only 17 when he was KIA and it was my first ever experience with military life. I remember him telling Jon "Damn Painter, why don't you just buy a bus ticket and go see her. .I don't want to have to surgically remove that phone from your ear.". . I was utterly heartbroken. I didn't know how to process any of it and as loss after loss hit this company I couldn't help but cry too. From day 1 my Marine Corps family embraced my fully and guided me every step of the way so when they hurt, I hurt too.

It has been 5 years since 2nd Lt Cathey was KIA and I still to this very day cry over it. I cry for every single man they lost and every family that it hurt.

-PFC Shayne Cabino, 19
-2nd Lt James J Cathey, 24
-Lcpl Nikolas D Schiavoni, 26
-Capt. Tyler Swisher, 35
-Cpl Benny Cockerham, 21
-Sgt Michael Hodshire, 25
-HM3 Christopher Thompson, 25
-LCpl Kenneth Butler, 19
-LCpl Steven Szwydek, 20
-LCpl Andrew Russoli, 21
-SSgt Richard Pummill, 27
-LCpl Jason Frye, 19
-Cpl Nicholas Cherava, 21
-LCpl Patrick Kenny, 20
-Lcpl Tyler Troyer, 21
-Sgt Sean Miles, 28

On the memorial poster I recieved, it says they are immortalized as Warlords. . but even more than that, they are immortalized as brothers in the hearts and souls of the fellow Marines they served with and the lives of the families that they touched. Five and six years later their losses are still felt keenly.

I never got to meet or know them but they were family in a way that only combat can bind them together. Through the midnight conversations Jon has had with them since their deaths, I have learned to love them too. I wish more than anything that they as well as their families could know just how much they touched his life. While heartbreaking to hear, I am glad he has them still. He is so afraid he will forget them, but I know he won't. They are just as much a part of him as his children or I am . . maybe even more so. We keep them here in our home because Jon says that if he can make sure of anything, it will be that our boys will know that those men left the world as heroes, paying the ultimate sacrifice so that even one of their brothers could go home.

Yesterday I woke up to find an article and a picture eerily similar to the one I saw so many years ago. In the picture I saw that LCpl Joshua Twigg, who was KIA in Afghanistan this past week, was being taken off of the plane that brought him home. Spaced out between the plane that carried him home are various personnel standing at attention saluting this fallen hero as he is taken to his final stop before traveling to his family before being laid to rest.

Seeing it made me sick at heart and sick to my soul for Chrissy, his family, and his friends who are being forced to say goodbye to him years too soon. Seeing this beautiful girl broken and hurting and bearing this burden hurts my heart. There is nothing we can do to lift this pain or bear it for her and I know most any of us would in a heart beat. She has been the epitome of grace, poise, strength, and unfailing love during this devastating blow.

As her friends and as "sisters" we can only imagine what her pain must feel like but we are doing our best to rally around her and hold her hand. Earlier this week the support forum we are a part of started taking up donations for her to make sure she is taken care of and has what she needs. .. .I have never been more proud to be a part of such an amazing group of people in my life. They are all so beautiful and compassionate.. .together they managed to raise over $1,000 in an effort to show our friend comfort and let her know we care. How amazing an awe inspiring is that?!

It really is true what they say. The Marine Corps takes care of their own and by their own we mean every wife, fiance, and girlfriend. I have never been more safe, protected, supported, or loved in my life. I haven't had to bear a single burden alone or face a single uncertainty.

This week marked another first for me. As I sat in the recliner earlier this week I cried as I watched the video's and read the article's detailing this Marine's sacrifice and watching the love of his life hold her head high and try her level best to smile through her heart break.

Caleb crawled into my lap and our conversation went as follows. . .

"You ok mommy?"

"Yeah honey bun mommy is just fine."

"Mommy sad. Mommy cry. Why?"

So I showed him the video and tried my best to find the words to explain to him that this young man gave his life for his country. I searched for the words as tears ran down my face. The best I could come up with was this.

"Mommy is sad because this man had to go away because he was protecting us."

Caleb spent several seconds looking from me to the computer screen, back to me, and to the picture of Chrissy and Josh. He pulled my head to his chest and started petting my face.

"Shhh mommy." he said. "It's ok. He aww-right. He an angel." then my three year old son got down and walked away.

I was floored. My son managed to find the words that eluded me since learning of his death. In that single sentence he found a salve for the hurt that I felt for my friend and the family of this fallen hero.

I have come across so many songs as of late that seem to just fit for this that just keep rolling around in my mind.

Farther Along - Brad Paisley

Tempted and tried we're oft made to wonder
Why it should be thus all the day long
While there are others living about us
Never molested though in the wrong

Farther along we'll know all about it
Farther along we'll understand why
Cheer up my brother live in the sunshine
We'll understand it all by and by

Seems kind of fitting doesn't it? It was also one of my Uncle Rick's favorite songs. Sitting here listening to it I can only think that I hope I never stop being affected by this, it would be a grave injustice to all of the men and women who laid down their lives for our freedom.

If You're Reading This - Tim McGraw

If you're reading this
My Mommas sittin there
Looks like I only got a one way ticket over here
Sure wish I
Could give you one more kiss
And war was just a game we played when we were kids

I'm laying down my gun
I'm hanging up boots
I'm up here with God and we're both watching over you

So lay me down
In that open field out on the edge of town
And know my soul
Is where my momma always prayed
That it would go
And if you're reading this
I'm already home

Heartbroken. This was the first song that came to mind after hearing about it. It is also one of the very few things in this world that makes my husband cry. The first time he heard it I watched with baited breath as his eyes clouded up. He hung his hand and reached his out as if resting it on something. I asked him once what that was. "I was back in Iraq. I was standing there in front of Lt Cathey's kevlar saying goodbye the only way I could. I could feel it underneath my hand.". . He downloaded it later that day and it is always with him.

Arlington - Trace Adkins


I remember daddy brought me here when I was eight,
We searched all day to find out where my granddad lay,
And when we finally found that cross,
He said, 'Son this is what it cost, to keep us free'.
Now here I am a thousand stones away from him,
He recognized me on the first day I came in,
And it gave me a chill, when he clicked his heels, and saluted me.

And I'm proud to be on this peaceful piece of property,
I'm on sacred ground and I'm in the best of company,
And I'm thankful for those thankful for the things I've done,
I can rest in peace, I'm one of the chosen ones,
I made it to Arlington.

And every time I hear, twenty-one guns,
I know they brought another hero home, to us.

No words. I have been in love with this song since the first time I heard it years ago. Having lived only miles away from this sacred place for three years now I have gotten to experience it first hand. Nothing can prepare you for the magnitude of awe and humbling grace, and quiet honor that rolls over you in waves when you step inside the confines of that hallowed ground. You are standing among heroes, hundreds of years worth of heroes who gave their lives fighting to make this country what it is today.. If that doesn't bring you to your knees thanking God for creating such selfless people then you are made of stone.

Just A Dream - Carrie Underwood

Baby, why'd you leave me, why'd you have to go
I was counting on forever, now I'll never know
I cant even breathe
It's like I'm, looking from a distance, standing in the background
Everybody's saying, he's not coming home now,
This can't be happening to me
This is just a dream

The preacher man said let us bow our heads and pray
lord please lift his soul and heal this hurt
then the congregation all stood up and sang the saddest song that she ever heard
then they handed her a folded up flag and
she held on to all she had left of him oh and what could’ve been
and then guns rang one last shot and it felt like a bullet in her heart

Bagpipes Cryin'- Rushlow Harris

Every day I'm giving all I can because I'm damn proud to be American
Yeah, I made some friends, and I've lost some too
When I think about what they gave for me and you

I hear bagpipes cryin' Amazing Grace,
tears rolling down a mother's face.
Old Glory draped like Heaven's mercy over the fallen sons.
I see all the heroes who are willing to fight
in the name of freedom layin' down their lives.
And prayin' God's grace would keep us safe from harm,
until they bring us boys back home

Someone asked me a while ago how I could believe in a God who let such awful things happen to good people. All I could do was smile. They ask me how I can. .I ask them how can I not?

I live a life that would cause most people heart failure but I also live a life that shows me the value of sacrifice. How can I live among men and women who are willing to lay down their lives to protect the freedom of people they have never even met and not believe in God?!

If anything I have even more proof that God exists because people like my husband and Chrissy's boyfriend go at a drop of a hat to protect this country and those of others. I see the hands of God in every aspect of my life and if you took the time to breathe in your surroundings you would too.

So I challenge you to do this. Look around you and think about how many men and women have died for your right to have the things you do.

That right to vote? People have died for you to get it.. . .That flag you see? People die for it every single day so that you have the symbol of freedom to be and do as you please. . . That family on T.V?. . Their son died protecting you and your freedom. . . That star in the window a few houses down? A loved one has died in the line of duty. .That is one more goodbye that will never be spoken and one more kiss that will never be given and one more I love you that will never be said. . .

The men and women of our armed forces willingly leave their homes, families, lives, and comforts to afford you the right to be who you are and live how you live. Some families have said goodbye years to soon so that you may go home every day and kiss yours.

Remember always the families and friends who stand behind their service members with unfailing strength and support because they sacrifice too. In one of my favorite songs ever, sung by John Conlee, he sings this.

"They also serve. Those who stand and wait praying by the phone to learn their loved ones fate. But they're still in the war and let there be no mistake, they also serve. ..those who stand and wait."

In closing I leave you with these quotes from Saving Private Ryan. . .In the closing scenes of the movie as Captain Miller is dying, he looks at Private Ryan and says this.

"James, earn this. . earn it."

The movie then ends with an older James Ryan standing in Normandy in front of Captain Miller's grave surrounded by his family. He looks down at the gravestone and says.

"My family is with me today. They wanted to come with me. To be honest with you, I wasn't sure how I'd feel coming back here. Every day I think about what you said to me that day on the bridge. I tried to live my life the best that I could. I hope that was enough. I hope that, at least in your eyes, I've earned what all of you have done for me."

Then he clicks his heels and salutes the man whose final sacrifice made the rest of his life possible. .

I leave you with these words alone. .


Until next time my loves


Thursday, September 2, 2010

It Only Hurts When I Breathe. . .

Some days you wake up and just know that you should have stayed hidden under the covers away from the world. I expected today to be rough, but never like this. Last night really should have been an indicator but silly me didn't really think anything of the knot of dread in my guts.

I woke up this morning to find that not just one but TWO of my fellow Marine S/O's lost their Marines in Afghanistan. Being affiliated with the military, you are taught that things happen at a moments notice. Your husbands and boyfriends and fiances can go to work and be shipped away all without the word goodbye. You grow used to the knowledge that it can happen but you never think it will.

As wives and fiances and girlfriends we learn to lean on each other and work as a team. What hurts one of us, hurts all of us. We worry together, we cry together, we hurt together and we heal together. We hold hands as they leave and take turns taking pictures when they come home. . most of all we are there to stand side by side in support of our fellow "sisters" when they don't.

Someone once told me that the military was like its own little society and that it was amazing because no matter where you went, your family was right next door.

Today as I stood in Wal Mart in the middle of the card isle attempting to pick out a condolence card I cried. All I could think is how I was standing here picking out this card to send to a woman that words can't heal. These men were young and had wives and fiances and children and lives to look forward too and now what. .

Their families are broken and in pain. I know with all I have that these amazing young men gave their lives fighting for something they believed in and that their lives DID MAKE A DIFFERENCE but why them? Why take them away when they had so much living left to do? Are you kidding me?!

After being slapped in face with this first thing this morning, I watched as our fellow wives and girlfriends and fiances rallied around these beautiful and broken families as they have begin to wade through the pain to begin mourning their fallen heroes.

Heroes is what they are. They fell fighting for a country they loved and for people they believed deserved the right to choose how they lived their lives. So many lives were touched and saved and treasured because of these two fallen Marines. They left behind mothers and fathers, a wife, a fiance, and a slew of broken hearted friends and family.

So, we band together to honor our fallen, celebrate their lives, and put the pieces back together to keep on living.

Never ever forget this. Every single choice you make and path you walk was given to you because a selfless service member laid down their lives to protect it.

Some people live their entire lives wondering if they ever made a difference, Marines don't have that problem.

Rest in peace LCpl Cody Roberts and LCpl Joshua Twigg. You may no longer walk this earth but the knowledge of your selfless sacrifice will never be forgotten.

You left this world far too soon and far away from home. . your mark will stay on the world and every life you touched. . .So we stand up together to support the ones left behind. .we move forward as best we can but we always no. . no matter what, we are never alone.

So I offer this as my ending thought.. . The ones we love are never too far away.. .

Semper Fidelis my loves. . now go hug your children and thank a veteran.. . .you never know just how short life is until one is taken away.

His uniform is different,
The best you've ever seen.
The Germans call him Devil Dog,
His real name is Marine.
He was born on Parris Island,
The place where God forgot.
The sand is 18 inches deep,
The sun is blazing hot.
And everyday he'll wake up,
Before the rising sun.
He'll run a hundred miles or more,
Before the day is done.
He's deadly with a rifle,
A bayonet made of steel.
He's took the Devils calling card,
He's mastered how to kill.
And when he gets to heaven,
St. Peter he will tell.
One more Marine reporting Sir,
I've served my time in hell.
So listen all you young girls,
To what I have to say.
Go out and find a young marine,
To love you everyday.
He'll hug you and he'll kiss you,
And treat you like a queen.
There is no better fighting man,

Thank you LCpl Twigg and LCpl Roberts for giving their lives to protect mine giving me the amazing opportunity to kiss my kids every night before bed and make my own choices.

Chrissy you are every inch a lady. You have borne every second with grace.

To their families. My heart hurts for every single one of you and we are praying hard for grace and understanding and peace during this horrible time