Saturday, May 26, 2007
As Memorial Day approaches us, the Sgt. L. family will remember those who have helped to attain our country's honor and those who lost their lives defending it. As a spouse, I humbly thank all those who have served with our family over the years and those who continue to serve our Nation. As I've said before, our family extends past the four walls of our home and blood relatives. Our family includes our brothers and sisters in uniform as well as their families.
I ask that everyone take just a moment to step back from the potato salad and flag football games and before you head out in search of the best deals to remember what Memorial Day is about. Without the sacrifice of so many, our lives would not be what they are today.
Thursday, May 24, 2007
Some days it doesn't seem like it's been that long other days it seems like it's been a bajillion times longer. It hasn't always been blue skies and picket fences but no matter what our issues have been, we have managed to work our way through them. We both have our faults and I, admittedly, probably have more than he does but I will say this about him... he is the most forgiving person I know. Me? I hold grudges. I know it's a bad trait to have but that and a lack of patience are two of my greatest weaknesses. I can make a banana pudding that will make your eyes roll and I'm quite the hostess when it comes to entertaining but patience and forgiveness are two things I have to strive hard to achieve. Despite that, he loves me. He loves me a lot.
We are polar opposites as far as our likes. He's the quiet one, I'm the chatty one. He's the hands on change the tire guy, I'm all about dialing AAA. He likes outdoors, as long as there is a Holiday Inn I'll never sleep in the woods. EVAH. But we complement each other well. I speed him up and he slows me down.
So, to the love of my life: Happy Anniversary! Love you bunches.
Friday, May 11, 2007
I came across a group, Citizen Reign, when their link was emailed to me. They have done a song/tribute to our military. I liked their music so I ordered their CD; they've got a Nickelback/3 Doors Down kind of sound. The song is called "Fight for Me." She doesn't always comprehend everything (after all, she's only 2) so we come up with associations for things so she can remember and start trying to understand. So, I told her this song was about her daddy and soldiers. Now when she wants to hear it, she says, "Daddy song, mama. Daddy and soldier."
If you click the link above it will take you to their website where you can hear the song and watch the video.
Thursday, May 10, 2007
I've posted before about how the UPS guy jokes with us when he delivers packages and you know they all read the labels and have to wonder about the reasons of our orders. He took a double take when I added the 2d yellow ribbon to our tree; the first is still there from when Sgt. left and I've added another one for a dear friend of mine whose son has been in Iraq for just a few short weeks. Everyone who comes in our drive comments on the American flag that hangs inside our living room window. It's hanging on the same hook my Blue Star Flag hung on. I like having it in my window. It reminds me of what my family stands for. My flag pole on my porch was not able to hold up it's duties so I'm on the quest for a new one and when it comes, there will be two flags flying. When people ask for directions to our house, the first thing I tell them is we are the only house on our street who has an American flag. Since that doesn't always seem to do it, I then tell them we are the only house who has a wooden fence. That seems to be what seals the directional deal for them. A fence. Not our flag.
I'm on this new path for a leaner me so I've joined the Y in the town I work in so I can go on my lunch hour instead of grazing on cookies and playing games. I've been once. But it's all good because today is only Thursday and I joined right before I came down with crud last week. So, I've only failed myself 3 days this week. Maybe tomorrow.
As I did my going-to-nowhere-walk on the treadmill and I watched the scrolls across the bottom of the screen on CNN, my mind twirled in circles and different thoughts fly...I should have gone to the grocery store but I really don't want to. It's okay to eat cereal for dinner for the 3d night in a row, right? If I don't do laundry, I'll be walking the treadmill naked with just my shoes tomorrow - not even socks. And then my mind shot back to Sunday, visiting the family whose son died in Iraq. They are the only people I have actually met in "real life" who have lost a loved one while serving there. Even though I know what my heart feels, I wonder if they do. I guess I'm a cynical person. I often question the sincerity of some of the things people say. One of the easiest phrases to throw around is, "we'll pray for you" and I think it's often thrown out too much. If I say it, I do it. But do they? Do we just trust all those who say they pray for us or keep us in their thoughts? I always thank them for their kindness and their well wishes, thoughts, prayers, etc. and move on. I think it's the one thing people say that they know will mean something. Maybe I just read too much into it. Maybe, like I said, I'm just to cynical. But I know I'm not the only one who is cynical...If I'm thinking it about people are people thinking it about me? I am one of the least self-absorbed people I know, seriously. I thrive on doing for others. I volunteer. BG and I make cards to send to our troops. I send care packages. I make phone calls. I try to make sure someone will always know they are thought of, even if it is a stranger.
I don't have a bird's eye perspective on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan like some do. My perspective is that of Sgt., our friends and my fellow bloggers but what it isn't is what the MSM spews. It's not all sunshine and posies. It's not even half of that. But there is sunshine and posies can break through.
So what separates me from the others? In my mind it's my willingness and passion to do for others freely. What I wonder is this...if I'm cynical towards others and find myself questioning some of their "sincerity," what makes me any different to someone I'm working with? I hug tightly. I listen intently. I hear what they are saying to me. Do they know that? Doing good deeds is not meant to be rewarded by those we help, or anyone for that matter but my inner struggle is making sure they separate me from those who are passers by and those who float in and out as it becomes convenient. I suppose that most people are like me and they know in their heart of hearts when someone is sincere. As long as I'm able, I will always try to touch the hearts and lives of someone somewhere who may otherwise not have it. Maybe it's simply that that separates me.
Sunday, May 6, 2007
The family lives about two hours away from me so I threw the iPod in the car, opened the sunroof and hit the interstate. I met the other two BSMs there and was able to look through the book before we knocked on the family's door. This was the first time I had been done this and I had never seen a condolence book done by the Marine Moms group who put it together. It immediately brought tears to my eyes. I don't know how many pages it had in it but all letters, notes, poems, etc. that had been sent in for this fallen Marine had been scrapbooked and cataloged in a nice leather Marine scrapbook. I ran my fingers over the pages and I looked intently at his picture. I prayed God give us the strength to present this to the family and that our visit go well.
We lined up and knocked on the door and the father answered with his mother standing about three steps behind him. We introduced ourselves, shook hands and they invited us into their home. They are not originally from our state but their other son and his family live there so that is where they brought their some home to rest and decided to make a new home for themselves. P presented the book to his parents and his mom ran her hands over the emblem on the front and graciously said thank you. They flipped through some of the pages and put it back on the table and said they would read through it later. It was a bit awkward at first with everyone on the edges of their seats not sure whether to get comfortable or not. After about 15 minutes or so, their other son and family stopped by and everyone relaxed a bit. This family. Wow, what to say about them other than they are incredible and that isn't even the best word to describe them. They told us of their son's 19 year career with the Marine Corps and all the places he had traveled and tasks he had done. His dad said no matter where he was, if there was a conflict he felt led to be there. After he finished up an overseas assignment, he asked to be sent to Iraq and he was. The exact words of his father were, "If he said it once he said it one hundred times, 'This is where I belong and if something should happen to me, you know I died for what I believe in.'" That brought them comfort.
Our conversation was about him and his life, Sgt. and our family and the careers and tours of the two mothers' sons. We told them about our work with BSMs and my work with Soldiers' Angels. They were very appreciative of our visit and the work that went into the condolence book. Before we left, his dad gave me a hug and I hugged him tight. I hugged his mother tight. I told both of them early in our visit that their family was a part of our family and I was proud to have met them. I thanked them for allowing us into their home and his mother hugged me again and held my hand. She told me she would pray for Sgt. for his upcoming tour. I thanked her.
We were at their home for about an hour and a half. There were a few tears shed. They shared some pretty intimate details with us. We laughed. We hugged. We left.
I've not done a lot of things in my life I consider to be amazing but this visit I will call amazing. Their spirit. Their love. Their dedication. I am proud to have met them. I am proud they chose to invite us into their lives so openly. I am proud to have been able to be a small part of the healing of their souls. It renewed so many things within my soul and my heart. I didn't know what to expect on the drive up but I think I left a better person than I went in. I've always felt that if one person benefits from the things I do, even just a little, it makes all the time and effort worth it. These fine folks proved that to me today.
Wednesday, May 2, 2007
Last night we were standing in the kitchen talking about purging half of the contents of our house. I swear I don't know how we ended up with so much stuff. Anyway, he said, "you know I'm going, right?" I told him yes, I know. And we stood there. I told him there has been something weighing on my mind for a while and we needed to cover it. If I were to get "the visit" I would not want to be there by myself with BG. My parents live about an hour away and my bro and s.i.l. about 30 minutes. We don't live in a big neighborhood and aren't close with our neighbors, except one. So, Sgt. and I decided that if it were to happen, I would want T there with me to help me get through. I told Sgt. I would feel odd asking him but it really needed to be done. T mowed our yard every weekend while Sgt. was gone without being asked to do so and got overly offended when I offered to pay him. So when I cooked, I made extra and took it to him and made a little basket of treats to say thanks. He was appreciative.
I teared up when we talked about it. I didn't cry - just teared up. So did Sgt. I try not to think about it but it's a cold, hard fact in our life. When Sgt. left the first time it was just us so there were minimal preparations. Now we have BG and all that comes with it. We've been slack about updating our wills and financials to include her so it needs to be done. There is a playroom that has been in the talks about being built for over a year now but we've teetered on whether to sell the house or not. We've talked about remodeling our kitchen but, again, comes back to selling the house or not. I would love to have a bigger house but I want to stay in mine. We've lived in it for 8 years and I want to stay in the house where the past 8 years of memories, hardships, arguments, good-byes, hellos, etc. have taken place. It's where I want to be. So, for my anniversary I'm getting new countertops (until I waver on spending the money).
We've started gathering new boots, moisture wicking socks, vests, goggles, etc. The UPS man jokes with us that I should make him dinner. Of course I grin when I tell him he should be glad we order online so he'll have packages to deliver or better yet, bring us pizza on one of his trips down T. Road. Then we'll invite him in.
One talk down.
Tuesday, May 1, 2007
I absolutely loved D.C.(it’s the first time I’ve been there in about 2o years and then it was only a trip through the Smithsonian on our way to NYC. ) This time I had a wonderful tour guide; she showed me all the sights. I thanked many of our troops for their service; some were on their way home for mid deployment R&R others were visiting D.C., too. None the less, I shook their hand, gave out 3 hugs and said thank you to all. I stopped in at the USO at the airport to say hi to the volunteers who staff it. It’s what I do. It’s what I believe in. Response is usually always good but one soldier in particular stood out because of comments he made. He was in the airport and I was waiting for my flight to D.C. and we started chatting. After a few minutes, he asked me what Sgt. did and by this time we had quite the audience hanging on to our conversation. When I told him his job, the soldier looked me dead square in the eyes and asked, “you know what he does, right?” I answered yes with the strongest smile I had to try and not show concern in it. The next thing he said to me floored me. “All I can say is you need to pray and pray a lot. Both of you.” I was so taken aback by those words and apparently it showed through on my face because he then told me that he was glad there were soldiers such as Sgt. who performed these tasks because they were extremely important but extremely dangerous. I shook his hand again, told him good-bye and I left to go board my flight. I know he meant no harm and certainly didn’t mean to upset me and it didn’t to the point of tears but it did as it tugged on my heart strings and it set my mind rolling for what I would see in the days ahead as I walked the streets of our nation’s capital.
As we walked to the different landmarks and memorials, my heart was touched. It was touched because of what they stand for. The Vietnam Veterans Memorial gave me goosebumps. As I ran my hands over the names touching them and reading notes that were left at the base of the wall, it brought tears to my eyes. There were notes of thanks, drawings by children and a poem written in 1999 by a high school senior who later joined the military and lost his life in Iraq in 2005. It was very quiet and nothing more than whispers. Arlington National Cemetery also humbled my soul. It is one of the most amazing places I’ve ever seen. We watched the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Every time his heels clicked as he turned, my heart skipped a beat and it ached.
I took quite a few pictures and I flipped through them several times reading the over and over the words on the monuments. As I wound down at night, I remembered how important of a role we all play in the making of our country’s history. How our choices and our attitudes affect the outcome of so many things; the good and the bad.
I saw so much hate towards Bush, whole stores dedicated to it, and was even invited to a picnic to impeach him. My response: Sorry, he’s my husband’s boss. It is not up to me to judge his decisions. It’s not up to me to question policy. It’s my job to support those who work so hard and tirelessly for the things we all are supposed to believe in. And I do. I do it with pride ignoring those who say I’m wasting my time. A brother or sister in need is never a waste of time, not in my eyes anyway.
As soon as I landed I called Sgt. and the first thing I told him was how proud I am of him and I’m proud he fights for what he believes in and I, in turn, will fight for him and those who are like him. They are his brothers and sisters; our extended family, so to speak. As long as I’m able, no one who needs comfort will go unnoticed. That goes for on the home-front and abroad. Why? It’s what I believe in.