The girl who has been trying to run from her past. The girl who has grown into a woman who stuffs her emotions and expects people to understand why - oh and avoid the land mines. All knowingly...
So, I'm that girl. Exhausting others and myself because I only release bits and pieces from behind the wall. No wonder I don't make sense sometimes. Well, look here I am doing it right now. Telling you stuff without telling you anything. Since this isn't necessarily my forte, I'm going to hone in on a specific hidden terrain and share a little more about me, with you.
In 1997, I was married to my first husband. He was a Marine and I believe that he loved me. He probably loved his country a bit more though. So when he deployed for Iraq on June 5, 2004 (our son's golden birthday), I was not surprised at his commitment to the military and his desire to serve his country. Though I met him as a Marine and learned all of my respect for the service of our veterans through him, I will readily admit here that I did not think that he would be injured or die due in this war. Niave? I don't know, I just didn't think it could happen to us or any of them really - even with casualties that had been experienced.
I have no thoughts about the "war on terror" or the hidden bombs they were looking for or George Bush or any of the politics surrounding Operation Iraqi Freedom. None. I will not waste my breath on any of it. It is not because of his death, but because of his unwavering commitment to his "yes" to the Marines. Semper Fidelis - he lived this loyalty.
I'd like to think that I am a loyal person. I don't know how to define it, but I like this word on my short list of descriptors. I was very loyal to Chad and ultimately proved that loyalty when after nine months of attempted rehabilitation in over a half dozen hospitals around the world, it became clear that we would never have him back, and I ended the life support through Hospice Care. We buried Staff Sergeant Chad Jerome Simon at 32 years old in a nearby cemetery and attempted to grieve and move on with our lives.
Fast forward 8 years later to today...
Our son just returned home from a camp for kids like him. Kids who've lost a service member in anyway. Free, week long and fun with many opportunities for grief counseling. It may seem like something small, but for me as a mother who has been hiding (another post for another time) for years, it's become clear to me that my child needed this. And God sent it, just as our young teen started asking questions. Lots of questions about his dad. Who I must say I can hardly remember.
I mean, I remember, but it's so fuzzy that it's almost easier to think of things in snapshots than moving frames or scenes. And when it's that much work (and current things are not going as anticipated or hoped for) it's much easier to freeze my mind on things that were positive and good and to stay there. However this worked over the years watching my son go from 5 to 14 (time flies) it is no longer good enough.
I don't recall how we heard about the camp - thank you to whoever you were - but it is great that he was able to attend. I just penned my thank you to the organizer (thank you again Neil) and my biggest takeaway was that for the first time my son was able to work through his pent up anger. Able to release the pressure he'd placed upon himself from the words that some well meaning stranger uttered to him so many years ago - that he "was now the man of the house". Angry. He asked me today on the ride home from camp...
"How was I to be the man of the house when the one to show me was taken away?"
Yes, these things make so much more sense to me now - what I should have done. What I ought to have done, what he needed - I get it. I was grieving the losses myself. It's not just death that you experience, it's so much more than that. The routines, the smells, the person's voice. How do you even explain it?
Anyway, this a little bit more about me. I'm a widow. Or was a widow, since I am re-married. Hmph, unsure of the correct wording there. Living after death is difficult, especially when you don't grieve regularly and freely. So thankful to Camp Hometown Heroes for making it okay to grieve with others who understand.