543 Day Writing Journey

On Behalf of a Grateful Nation: A Memoir Page. Day 265.

“I’m sorry, ma’am. I have to do it this way,” he said with a kind, firm tone. He was responding to my babble, my unanswerable questions, my erratic spin.

There was another man in uniform next to him, Sgt. Perez. I knew him, yet it didn’t register. There was also a police officer who I went to high school with. The night was dark and quiet. All of this was going on while the boys were asleep inside.

American tradition with its glory and Colors dictated how I would find out. My husband, Roger, of thirteen years had been killed in Iraq. He was driving a Humvee and ran over an Improvised Explosive Device. He was killed instantly, and I know it was fast because they said, “He didn’t know it even happened” like a billion fucking times. My first reaction was to reason with this young man and ask for proof. I thoroughly believed I could argue it away, mechanical and irrational.

I didn’t cry or fall like they do in the movies. There was no yelling because I didn’t want the kids to find out. I stood there in my parents’ front yard on a warm summer night in Southampton, Massachusetts. I’m sure the crickets were making noise, and maybe the bats were circling above, wanting to nuzzle their faces into my tangled hair. I felt like I needed to put on a bra and brush my teeth.

The boys and I had only been in the state for a few short hours. I stood there without my legs, with nobody to hold me. It felt like everything inside me was unattached and floating around. It was all gone. I was floating on very hot nothing, melted hell, and all I could concentrate on was the young private’s face.

“I’m sorry you had to do this,” I said to the poor kid. He just stood there after telling me the words. He looked perplexed, not knowing what to say next, pale. When I recall that night, I still feel for that boy, and the job he had to do, his vital composure.

The stranger and I stared at each other for some time, then for some nonsensical reason, I looked in the window of my parents’ house. There stood Sammy, ten-years old, pillow hair and full lips like his daddy, looking at me through the glass door, wondering who I was talking to in the middle of the night.

543 Day Writing Journey

Pressing Cammies. Day 139.

Photo by Karolina Grabowska on Pexels.com

The smell of burning water told me the iron was ready, so I took a pair of trousers out of the high pile of cammies. I held the pants upside-down, lined up the bottom hems, and gave them two shakes. Once they were flat, I put them on the ironing board, lined up the creases, and began pressing.

Continue reading “Pressing Cammies. Day 139.”
543 Day Writing Journey

How I Met Your Dad. Day 77.

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Baylee and I were in the furniture store, finally ready to purchase a sectional for our new home. While we were sitting on the one we chose, waiting for the salesperson to finalize the deal, he asked me a question.

“How did you meet Dad?”

Continue reading “How I Met Your Dad. Day 77.”
543 Day Writing Journey, poetry

CLNC Revision. Day 65.

I wrote this poem on a plane a few years ago when I was flying to North Carolina from Massachusetts to visit Tyler. I compare the two states, the two places I love. They both tear me apart with their memories and people. I revised this poem a little to post today which is actually tomorrow because I am writing this on Wednesday.

“Today” I will be or I am in Washington, D.C. celebrating Veterans Day with many special folks and Baylee. My deep breaths are going to get me through, and many tissues, I am sure.

Continue reading “CLNC Revision. Day 65.”
543 Day Writing Journey

Holden Caufield and Profanity. Day 50.

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Mom is a pecasit. Tyler wrote that down and handed it to me, lips pursed, and eyebrows tightly raised as he was trying not to smile. He and I were being silly and writing goofy notes to each other on a piece of paper. He was six.

Continue reading “Holden Caufield and Profanity. Day 50.”
543 Day Writing Journey

Jacksonville, NC. Day 43.

The house we bought in 2002. The road was called Shamrock because behind the back fence were millions of four-leaf clovers.

Jacksonville, North Carolina has been part of my life since December of 1995, when I married a young jarhead and moved there with Tyler. I was 21. I remember one of the first things I saw was the Driftwood bar. It had no windows.

Continue reading “Jacksonville, NC. Day 43.”
Uncategorized

Happy Birthday, Roger!

July 13th has become a favorite of mine when she enters the world dancing and celebrating. The date indicates the beginning of peace for me, and a termination of the seemingly eternal six-week period of time when memorable dates congest my breathing and weaken my body.

Also, during this long stretch of time, I feel the cloud around me, the one that places a haze over my individual self, violently stuffing me back into my blaring widow status. Any of my personal accomplishments, good moods, or peaceful days are to be set aside until the certain dates go by. The boys’ lives are paused as well. Another thing that makes these days heavier is being the “sad one” all the time. I am associated with bummer-like feelings, and July 13th brings me back.

As the years go by, people still celebrate him on all of the dates, and I pray it remains that way. If people forget him, I will lose a little of me, so I don’t want it to stop, but it takes work.

Memorial Day begins before the actual weekend with posts and photos, and I will always be grateful. We all dip into the tepid pool of memories and deliver them to each other in the form of Facebook posts, old, pixelated photos, and emails. This year was particularly peculiar with its lack of ceremony and personal connections, yet still it wedged its ghostly barbed form into our hearts.

After we memorialize our fallen, we celebrate Father’s Day which has become blurry with false cheers for the future which we don’t have with him. For some reason, the sun shows brightly each year attempting to heave up my pouty mood. Maybe she’s mocking my fake smiles and closeted crying with her cheerful rays.

After Father’s Day comes June 29th which marks the anniversary of Roger’s death. This year we acknowledged it for the eleventh time. As the years pass by in their modern vehicles, I become less confident in time’s ability to mute the sadness. I just willingly become tired because it’s easier.

The significant dates linger, too, by my own choice and fault, because I stay off social media on those days as much as I can. I respond the day after, which I suppose is counterproductive to condensing the feelings of all the special days.

Roger’s birthday is Sunday, July 12th.

He would have been forty-eight, with gray hair, maybe, otherwise the same. As always, I would have teased him because he is older than I am, and he would have crossed his eyes, scrunched up his nose, and made the most obnoxious face at me while he cackled.

There would have been pineapple upside-down cake as with any special Roger day, probably some type of cheeseburger, and so many fries, crinkle cut, with lots of Heinz ketchup and extra salt. I would not have given him grief about having too much Dr. Pepper, and Busch Light would have joined him to the end of his evening while we swam with the squeaking bats in our backyard pool.

The boys would give him gifts of heavy handfuls of dried clay shapes with gobs of primary colored paint placed carefully on their surface. They would look nervous when he opened their individual gift, making my heart stop for just long enough to reset me. I would have wrapped t-shirts with funny pictures on them, size large, a giant Zero bar, some router bits, and a book that he would love more than I thought he would.

I remember the first birthday of his after he died, the day we had his funeral, July 12, 2009, but a year after that leaves its spiny quill in me the most.

We made a pineapple upside-down cake, of course, and let the day pass. It was getting dark so the time came to light the candles. The kids were happy and giddy, I mean, it was a birthday. I stood on the back deck with my vodka drink and freshly lit Camel Crush after casually saying, “Go on without me.”

The lights in the kitchen turned off and I saw the cake through the back window, floating around on its own being held up by an orange halo of candles. He would have been thirty-eight.

I listened to them sing to him.

“Happy birthday to you. Happy birthday to you. Happy birthday, dear dadddddddddyyyyyyyy. Happy birthday to you.”

I choked.

After that year, we quit doing anything traditional on his birthday. I don’t make a cake and we don’t look at photos. We just exist in the thickness of the date, waiting for the day to pass, longing for the arrival of July 13th so we can, without explanation, live as regularly as we can.

I don’t think there’s a right thing to do. We celebrate him every day and he’s never away from our minds. Sometimes, though, it’s just too much.

Happy birthday, hon.

Uncategorized

Give the Bugle a Break

Why are we still fighting each other publicly for the world, including our enemies, to see? In my vision, the momentum carries us all to a gradual implosion. The unsolicited comments and chest pounding aimed at each other within our own land is quite embarrassing. Democrats and Republicans are violently defending their beliefs before they are challenged, and the assumptions are creating asses left and right. I wish to see more compassion and concern for humanity, and a little reverence.

Patriotism to me happened after September 11, 2001. We loved each other, and our differences were muted and tamed. Social media was not the prominent armored platform as it is now, so we didn’t sit in our torn armchairs and use our thumbs to attack those with different beliefs.

Loving one’s country does not mean there has to be a quest to kill and hate. I love the USA, but the last thing I want is another war. That’s what we all should want. We need to defend and take all measures necessary to end this conflict and pray it doesn’t grow. Am I wrong? There are people there who have nothing to do with any of this. There are children, gentle communities, and even family dogs who all want peace.

Roger came back from Iraq in 2005 and told me stories about the civilians there, especially the children, and even a scrawny stray dog he befriended. He was unable to communicate with the children using words but they connected through his gentle nature and love for sport. They played soccer and laughed with each other. He was not there to blow up the country. He was there to make it better for the citizens. To him, aggression was the last resort, and a united America was his dream.

Sometimes I place myself in the living room of a modest home in England. I’ll sit in a chair that is older than my name and try not to spill the Earl Grey on my wool skirt. When I peak at my social media or even the news, I wonder about the United States and the words that come directly from the people. I see them argue and point, and the anger saturates their aim at the wrong target; each other. Our allies are watching us bicker.

How cool would it be if the rest of the world sees us Americans as a united bunch of folks?! I recall the love that drenched Roger’s funeral services and how it was wrapped around me and the boys. That is my hope for America. If we do to go to war, knowing we are each other’s allies will strengthen our cause and create a more welcoming environment for others to join.

One thing I have yet to read in the constant banter and judgement, is the concern for those close to the hot areas on the map. I wonder about the civilians of Iran and the surrounding countries, and of course our military will never leave my broken heart.

No, I am not taking a stance on the war, retaliations, or our leadership, and won’t publicly considering my obvious bias and knowledge of loss; I am simply sad for them, us, and all. I have my own beliefs which are complicated and personal. I simply don’t fit into one pod of political definition, and that’s how it should be.

I hate that if I type a “w” in my Google search “World War III” pops up. I fantasize about that twenty-third letter generating words like weed or winter. Wine works as well, or maybe warmth. Some news sources are eating this all up and engendering fear and hate. I’m afraid to go to a movie or put my child on a plane. The violent tension is thick as it hovers over Earth. I want peace and grace, and a little more effort to understand each other.

The United States Marine Corps Silent Drill Team gifts us with an example of how we could unify. The only sound you hear from them is the united taps of heels from their black liquid coriforms, and their twirling white rifles uniformly clicking. The audience should be silent as well, and nobody types daggers at each other. That is called grace, and it is united. We should all take a moment once in awhile to be silent, and simply listen.

#ichoosegrace #grace

https://www.barracks.marines.mil/Units/Silent-Drill-Platoon/