Most holidays without Micheal make me kind of sad and depressed. But for some reason my memories of his last St. Patrick’s Day make me smile. I so often share about the pain of this grief I thought for a change I would share this smile…
It was about 9pm on St. Patrick’s day when I snapped a picture on my phone of my youngest and the dog sleeping together on the couch. Micheal adored his baby brother so I sent it to him. A short time later he called and left a voicemail (that I would give my right arm to have still. I saved it but when I lost that phone it was gone) Anyway the call went something like this:
“Hello Mother, (long pause) I would like to thank you (pause) for the picture (pause) of Anthony and and and the dog.”
He had obviously been trying to recall the dog we had had for 8 yrs name.
“It’s St. Patrick’s Day and I am drinking (pause) A LOT Cause I’m Irish.” Followed by giggling.
Now every St. Patrick’s Day I think of that call and know he was with friends having a wonderful silly time and I can smile because I know he experienced joy in this life with his friends.
Five years ago today they brought Micheal home to us. Standing in that hangar as they unloaded the flag draped casket he laid in was probably the worst moment of our lives. The hope of there being a mistake was gone and the full impact of his death hit us all in that moment. There is no words to describe the pain and anger of that moment. It still haunts me. The pain of it still tears at my very soul.
So today I went to work like every other day pushing to the back of my mind the memory of that moment. I sat in my car for a couple minutes before going in to put my “game face” on. So I walked in with my smile and let’s do this attitude. About half way my shift a gentleman in a “Retired Army” hat sat at one of my tables. I shook his hand and thanked him for his service as I do with all veterans I meet.
“You must be military, I only get thanked by military usually.” (sad commentary but wise man)
“No sir, I never served, I’m just an Army Mom.”
“Thank your son for me.”
” Yes Sir”
I went on to take the order and serve their food and chat with them as I do with all those I serve. But as he was leaving this man asked me if my son was home.
“They brought him home to me 5 yrs ago today sir.” I think I choked a little as I spoke the words but I smiled and wished him a nice afternoon… he took about 3 steps when my words hit him. He turned around and gave me a small half salute and nod. I smiled back, nodded and put my game face back in place.
It was not till I sat down for the evening that it has all hit me. And I am proud of myself because I did pretty well today at holding it together, all things considered.
Micheal it has been 5 yrs since you were taken from us. Every year gets a little harder because we have learned to anticipate the days that we are hardest hit by emotions and because we have marked more milestones of life that you are not here to share.
Yesterday marked 5 years since I missed your phone call and that feeling of something very bad coming began. Today I remember Conrad Alvarez, Albert Bitton and Micheal B. Matlock, Jr. We lost them 5 years ago today. They were your friends and you grieved for them but yet you were stoic and knew you had to put that grief aside till it would not affect the mission.
Tomorrow I will be at the blood drive that has become an annual event to honor and remember you. There is something very right about giving the gift of life to honor you. And Friday I will remember our finally phone call. Looking back I know now I was so blessed to have that hour talking to you. And I think we both knew something very bad was coming but neither of us would speak it out loud.
Sunday we will drink a beer to you. We will sit and remember the man you were and how many lives you touched and and still do.
I wish you were here to spoil your nephew. Oh how he would have wrapped you around his little finger is a matter of seconds. You would be so proud of the father your brother has become. I wish you were to tease your sister about dating a navy guy… even though I know you would completely approve of him and how he treats your sister. and well you would teach Anthony bad things that only an older brother can. And should. He still laughs about how you two got yelled at for running in the mall that day.
You are missed… you are loved.
Give me strength son.
People often tell me I am strong and they don’t understand how I “do it” How can I be weak when there are men like these being so strong? How can I allow the enemy to destroy my spirit if these men have not allowed theirs to be destroyed? These men are my son’s “combat brothers”. They all have one thing in common. Courage. I am damn proud to know men like those in this video. And to have at least one in this video call me “Momma Ang”. Take Luck!
Was speaking to a friend and was asked “Don’t you get any “me time”? And the truth is not really. Don’t get me wrong I love my family and the time I spend with them but there is something to be said for solitude and the balance you can find in it.
The problem is too much “me time” leads to over thinking things or walking down memory lane and that can lead to a painful place. At least for me. Not enough “me time” leads to being short in patience and distracts from the time I spend with my family. So the key is to find balance and something to fill that time with positive activities. Or am I selfish for wanting a couple hours a week or month to myself?
This is the great debate I am having with myself. I know that taking a couple hours on occasion for myself makes me less stressed and actually feel more stable. I don’t get to that dark place as often. Which is healthy not only for me but for my family. But then there is that my husband and I are currently working opposite shifts and that would mean for me to take a couple hours in the morning I am missing out on precious time with him and for me to take time in the evening I would be leaving my son alone. Which is not something I like to do.
So here I am.. writing an almost whiny blog about “me time” and knowing it is just not in the schedule. And I smile… because in the end I am grateful I have a family that needs me.
For many people New Years Day is a day to start fresh. A chance to begin working towards new goals or write a next chapter in their lives. In many ways it is for me also but it’s also a reminder that we are facing one more year with out our Micheal. That we are beginning the vicious painful cycle of marking certain days all over again.
Maybe it’s knowing what we are going to be facing that has made this holiday season so hard for us this year. You would think that knowing we could be prepared and more able to face it but knowing you are going to endure something painful, so painful that words can’t describe it, brings about a dread and fear that makes the simple act of breathing difficult.
I wish I could not look at the calendar and just face each day as if it were just another day. But even when you manage to not think about the date you will fill out some paper work or a check and have to write the date and it will hit you. It’s Feb. 24th.. the day my son lost his life. It’s May 17th and he would be 25 this year. It’s Jan. 8th.. 5 yrs since the middle of the night call to tell me it was snowing in Iraq. I still remember his excited “Mommy Mommy Mommy” when I answered the phone at 3am. Oct. 8th the last day all 4 of my children were together and the last time I hugged Micheal. There are so many dates. So many occasions that he should be with us and won’t be.
I miss him so much.
It’s 2013. 5 years since we lost him. I know what I have to face this year and I know I can because I have before. It doesn’t get easier though. If anything it gets harder because we know what to expect.
While many are out looking for that perfect gift for their kid, that they think they can’t live without. I get to buy some fake flowers for my kid, that I’m having to live without. ~ Gold Star Mother Judy G Vincent
I read this early this evening. It’s true. As a society we are running around spending money we don’t have to buy the gift our children “can’t live without” while some of us are living without our child.
Not many talk about the empty chair at our tables. Or the empty stocking hung for our children. We quietly go buy a wreath and flowers and taken them to the cemetery and take a few moments to let the wave of grief and sadness fully engulf us. Then we stand up, dust off our knees, wipe away the tears and go on about our lives. We smile and say “Merry Christmas”. We wrap gifts for those we love. We bake Christmas cookies and we hide the hurt and emptiness.
No one sees this part of our journey because we know it makes people uncomfortable so we hid this part. We hold in the tears when we are shopping for others and for one moment forget and find that “perfect gift” and then remember he is gone. We swallow the lump in our throats when the “I’ll Be Home For Christmas” plays over the store speakers. We watch young families with their children and remember Christmas’ past and hope those young families are wise enough to cherish every memory they are creating.
We truly want people have a Merry Christmas when we say it to them. We want others to create memories and have joy. We aren’t so selfish as to want anyone else to have this pain. That is why we keep this part invisible from most. Why we hold in the tears and swallow the lumps in our throats. I only write this to help others understand that if there is not a sparkle in our eyes and if we seem a little too quiet or if you see us watching you with your children it’s because we are thinking about the flower we have bought our child.
Via my Awesome Military Supportive Friend Mowhawk Man!!
Tonight I was hit with the most important request of the Christmas Season and I need “YOUR” help!!! You see the Mother of SPC. Ryan Campbell who is a saw gunner with 1/25th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 3-21 Infantry, A Company 2nd platoon. He hasn’t been home for Christmas in four long years as he serves in the United States Army. He deployed to Afghanistan on April 25, 2011 and returned home on April 12, 2012. While deployed 1/25th SBCT, 3-21 Infantry “LOST 6 BROTHERS” in combat, many others were injured. Also while deployed Ryan’s Grandfather suffered several strokes and as a result was placed on life support. Ryan was able to fly home and spend a few days with his grandfather before he was taken off of life support and passed away. The “day” after we buried him he flew back to Afghanistan to finish his tour. Also while deployed his step father was diagnosed with leukemia and is currently hospitalized again for treatment after discovering that he now has a tumor!!! September 14th one of his Grandmothers passed away and he was NOT able to be home for that. At the beginning of the November 2012 his best friend (since the age of 3) was tragically killed, he was NOT able to make it home for the funeral and is still “deeply” affected by this!!!!! His cousin was just taken off of life support and died as a result of being hit by a car when she stopped to HELP someone who was involved in a car accident!!!!!!! His aunt is currently in hospice as a result of cancer and is not expected to be with us much longer and these are just some of what Ryan has had to deal with!!! He has been through hell this year alone. If he does not make it home for Christmas this year, it will be the 4th year in a row that there will be an empty chair and many empty hearts!!!!! Last year the family actually cancelled their family Christmas because of his absence. This is Ryan and his families ONLY wish for Christmas! IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO BE APART OF AN AMERICAN CHRISTMAS MIRACLE PRIVATE MESSAGE ME SO WE CAN GET RIGHT TO WORK. He is stationed in fort wainwright Alaska and is trying to make it home to Battle Creek Michigan. The cost of a round trip ticket is about $2700.00!!!!! Yep the price you pay for serving the country!!! Let’s show Ryan and others who are serving that they mean something to us and bring this young man home. I have met Ryan once in the past when his Grandpa died and can tell you he LOVES YOU & AMERICA!!! I was so impressed with this young man I even gave him my Mowhawk boots when I met him, and he wore them why he finished his tour in Afghanistan. I got to tell you to serve your country, watch your brothers die, not be able to tell loved ones good by before they die, and then miss “4” Christmas without your family, is NOT acceptable. Contact me and lets get Ryan HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS!!!!
**IF YOU CAN HELP PLEASE EMAIL ME AT KNOTTIENATURE @YAHOO.COM OR DONATE VIA MY PAYPAL***
For 4+ years I have watched as my husband and children are forgotten.
Their lose and pain goes unacknowledged. I have made it part of my mission to use my voice as a Gold Star Mother to make people aware that Fathers and siblings have also lost someone they love very much.
I had to stand and watch as in one moment my son lost not only his brother but his best friend. I had to listen the painful wail of my daughter as she begged me for it to be wrong because she lost her brother and hero. I had to watch my youngest try to understand death and why his best buddy couldn’t take him for icees anymore.
I watch still as my husband tries to come to terms that he lost a son and a part of his legacy.
I lost my baby.. my oldest but so many of us share this pain and for some reason society centers me out and comforts me but forgets my son Micheal had a whole family not just a mom.
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