Happy Memorial Day.
I've posted quite a few tribute videos tonight on Myspace. Tributes to men and women in uniform. I just do not want today to be about hot dogs and burgers when it's really a day to remember fallen heroes. To really think about what that means.
I'm mourning the loss of people I never knew. It's strange, but isn't that what today is for?
They were somebody's someone, even if I didn't know them somebody else did. They were somebody's brother, son, father..husband. It could've been MY husband. One of the videos I posted is about that, and it is called Somebody's Someone from Lonestar. If you care.
You should care...
One of the other tributes I posted was a song called "This Is Just A Dream" from Carrie Underwood. It hits me pretty hard...
It's about a girl who is in a wedding dress, on the way to the church, on what was supposed to be her wedding day, but is now her fiance's funeral. She is devastated to lose him, to find out he isn't coming home from the war, and she tells herself repeatedly, "This is just a dream. This can't be happening to me, this is just a dream..."
I had that dream multiple times when Henry was in Iraq, but it was never a reality for me. I woke up. He came home.
It is a reality for some people. It's a reality for some women who, at one point, were just like me. We were all alike, in the same shoes, going through the same fears.
I'm sure it was similar for all of us. I can't be the only one who dreamed that my husband had died.
I had a million different dreams while Henry was overseas. I dreamed simply that he was gone. Sometimes, I had nightmares about his actual death, how it happened. I would wake up in a cold sweat, hard to find air. Couldn't breathe.
Sometimes, I dreamed of the knock on the door, hearing the news. In every one of those dreams, I had a different reaction. Once or twice I slammed the door in the officer's face, in one I would just stand their as tears silently poured out of my eyes, or I would fall into him and bawl into his chest... once I actually slapped him and screamed at him, calling him a liar and a bastard.
I dreamed of being handed Henry's flag. I dreamed of receiving his last letter in the mail, long after hearing that he had died. I dreamed of visiting his grave. I dreamed of his funeral. I dreamed of finally gathering the strength to visit Dustin. All kind of things. All kinds of fears. Intense, horrible, unshakeable fear.
I called his father in the middle of the night, hysterical, multiple times just to ask, "He's okay, right? Nothing happened... right?"
These nightmares all spawned from the fear that I shared with every other wife, every other family member at all, waiting at home, completely helpless to do anything but wait and pray.
Some of us waited it out, and prayed it out, and our husbands came home. Some others waited and prayed just the same... and their husbands didn't.
They had the same nightmares and fears as I did. Only all of theirs became reality.
We went through all the same things, and were all equally at risk.
I wonder how they dealt with it. Me, I hugged a complete stranger in the mall once. I didn't say anything, I just saw the man wearing dress blues (Toys for Tots season, I believe) and I hugged him. I was crying by the time I walked away, but I don't think either of us ever said anything.
I jumped out of my skin every time I heard a knock on the door. More often than not it was just the UPS delivery guy. Every time I heard a knock on the door my heart sank into my stomach.
Later, a policeman came to my parent's door. I don't even remember why. Either it was a mistake or they had something really mundane to tell us... I was so upset I don't remember. I just heard a knock on the door, I got the heavy, sinking feeling in my chest and immediately began convincing myself it was friendly company, not a Marine with bad news.
Then I opened the door and saw a uniform.
Not dress blues, I know, but still enough to freak me out. I couldn't tell you a single word they said. I threw up when they left.
I worried myself sick over that stupid knock on the door. But others?
They really did get that knock on the door. They did attend their closest friend and lover's funeral. They have nothing left of them but memories and a neatly folded flag.
I had almost forgotten the phone calls. I blocked them out. Every wife of the battallion was called and informed when a Marine was killed. I really never understood why at the time, since I didn't live in Camp Lejeune with other wives. It was me, back home alone. I guess on base it's necessary to know what happens since they all are one community. But me, it just made me really afraid, and eventually really angry, to be told over and over that another Marine had died. Essentially, I was hearing, "Your husband just beat the odds." I felt like I was dodging bullets back home just like he was overseas.
I don't remember how many calls I received, but they were all within a few weeks of each other. The first few calls, I bawled my eyes out. After a few, I did my best to shut it out. I numbed myself to it because it was too painful to think about. It hurt too much to take it in.
And those were strangers to me. Even their wives were strangers to me.
They are still who I think about today. I pray for people I don't even know who have lost loved ones, and I cry for them.
I think about Dustin and Angelo, because they served next to Henry. I don't know Angelo as well as Dustin, but I still really care for him and when I do pray, they're both in there. I care about them both very much, just because of what they mean to Henry. That makes them extremely important to me as well. And I think about them because they suffered the same loss as Henry. The loss of a friend they served with. Maybe more than one friend.
I'm not sure... Henry doesn't talk about it much. I only know of one for sure.
But anyway, I think of his family today, too. I never knew him, I never knew his family, but every time I think about it I pray for them.
And I selfishly thank God that it never was me that had to go through that pain.
I am almost happy on memorial day, in a way that actually makes me feel guilty.. but it's true. I'm only happy because I'm grateful that my husband is alive.
Thankful that our day is Veteran's day instead of today.
I really don't know what else to say. I just wanted to offer my perspective, as limited as it is.
From the eyes of a Marine wife that experienced the fear, but never the real pain.
The fear was painful enough as it is, I cannot even imagine what it really would be like to not have Henry here with me.
But there are women and men everywhere that really, truly, experience that. Their sons or daughters, husbands or wives, brothers, sisters, boyfriends, girlfriends, best friends...
Are not coming home.
Do not forget about any of them today.