I don’t think about the day Pokey came home much. But tonight something has triggered the memory and emotions. There is a movie out called “Taking Chance” I read the story years ago and it was emotional then. http://www.ehowa.com/features/takingchance.shtml Years after reading “Taking Chance” I would find comfort in the memory of those words. I knew my son was not coming home alone. He would have one of his brother’s with him, looking out, caring for and honoring him. I knew this because I had read LT Col Strobl’s words.
On Feb. 24th, 2008 my son, David, was home alone. My husband was at work. My daughter had gone to church and my youngest and I were at walmart doing the weekly shopping. When my son David called I thought he was going to ask for flaming hot cheetos. I answered the call with “I have your cheetos in the cart already” and laughed. He was so serious and scared. ” Mom two guys from the army are here’ No not recruiters. I knew then. Oh I tried to convince myself they came when they were hurt but I knew better. I called my husband to met me at the house.
“On behalf of the United States Army, We regret to inform you, Your son Micheal E Phillips was killed this morning when the vehicle he was driving encountered an IED.” For some reason I remember their words exactly. I turned and hugged my son and he for the first time in a long time hugged me back. A few minutes later my husband arrived and they repeated the words. After the paperwork was signed and offers help and comfort were made and we were told what the next step would be they left. A short time later my daughter came home. I will never rid my memory of her wail begging for it to be a mistake.
Then the waiting began. People came. They brought food and flower. The family arrived and we all waited together. We planned the funeral. Cried with his friends. Answered phone calls from his brothers in Iraq. But still time seemed to have stopped. We waited for Micheal to come home to us and hoped with every fiber that the wait meant they made the mistake my daughter begged for. The waiting is the hardest part they say and they are right. The numb of shock slow starts to wear off while you wait. You have far too much time to dwell on the memories, the lost dreams. All you can do is sit and wait and hope that someday you remember the words people are speaking in those day because in those moments you comprehend so very little. You just wait…
7 days we waited before we loaded into a limousine and drove to the airport. We were escorted by PGR and sheriff dept. I have no idea how many but the line was at least a mile of just the motorcycles. We stood in the hangar and wait the final few minutes for the plane to land. The honor guard took it’s place and the door opened on the plane. A flag draped casket emerged and my son was home. No mistake. We closed ranks and breathed in deep to get through the moment. It was in my mind the hardest moment we have faced so far. The hope was gone but he was home. I will never forget the look of anger on David’s face. Pure hot anger. He too realized it was time to face the truth… he had lost his brother and best friend. Our Pokey would not come home to parties and hugs. But to a funeral and tears.
The waiting was over….