Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Getting Real

I am supposed to be blogging about this amazing Nook cover I purchased from an Etsy artist.

I am supposed to be blogging about UK's Road to the Final Four, which was cemented last Sunday.

I am supposed to be blogging about the 352's smooth transition into the driver's seat...relieving the previous unit and taking over the day-to-day operations.

But all I can think about is Katie.

Neal sent me the link to the Stars and Stripes newspaper. I tend to forget that it exists until he emails me a story or comments on a photo they posted. And then I remember and I read...until I forget again.

I think the purpose was to show me a story about the gradual shut-down of Iraq and all of the issues related with closing a base....an article called The Long Good Bye. But what captured my attention instead was the headline, "War widow blogs the next chapter of her life." And it showed a photo of the war widow. She is 20 years old.

I would be a liar if I said that every time Neal laces up his boots, packs his duffles, and heads to the Middle East, I don't consider the law of averages. How many times can a Soldier deploy and still return safely? It's the same logic that makes frequent fliers anxious and skydivers wary. Someday the law of averages will win.

I'm not sure why I have been so reluctant to blog about my concerns, my fears, the thoughts that roll around from time to time. But Katie has put it all out there, from the first moments that she learned of Chad's death in Afghanistan. On December 1, 2010, she blogged:

RIP sweet husband...
I never thought this would happen to me...
I lost my husband, but Heaven gained a damn good Marine.
I am so proud for you Chad. I am truly at a loss for words...

Just hours after someone (probably in uniform), knocked on her door and knocked the breath right out of her, she sat down and began the story of ultimate sacrifice. Her last entry was almost a week ago and she is beginning to question how much more she has to tell...what more she can give...what to say when she feels so empty and alone. But for me, she has only just begun because what the world needs to see is something only she can show. What do you say to a 20 year old war widow? I'm sorry seems hollow and self-righteous. There are no words, but perhaps we don't need to give her our words, we should be listening to hers.

I think I have been holding back because I know that other wives in the unit read from time to time and it is certainly not my intention to instill fear or worry during these long and lonely months. However, I cannot honestly say that I have been Little Miss Sunshine these last few days, either. Maybe it's the rain. Or maybe it's Train's new song, Marry Me, that they play repeatedly on satellite radio. Or maybe it's the fear of the unknown...Katie's new known. Whatever it is, it is sitting on my shoulders while I am packing to leave for the summer. It is reminding me that as glorious as it is to be going home for several months, I would trade it all in a second just to have Neal home again. I made the choice to marry a Soldier, just as Katie made the choice to marry a Marine. We helped them pack and watched them load a bus. We said a prayer and asked everyone we knew to say a prayer. Now I count the days by wake-ups and Katie counts the days until the rest of Chad's unit returns home. I have 333 wake-ups. Katie has eternity. It is easy to push her away because it is what we fear most, shaped into the beautiful face of a 20-year old woman. But it could just as easily be one of us, opening the door to a somber Soldier, dressed in uniform. So, we pray for their continued safety, we say I love you a hundred times a day, we sit in the car and cry to Train songs, and we give Katie all the love we have because even though we still fall short, she is deserving of it all.
This image is borrowed from Katie's Blog, Wade's World. If you can, please pop over and give her some love, some support, some whatever you have in your heart. And read her words...even though the tears will fall and your heart will break. Read them because this is what happens during war and Americans should not forget our heroes...especially when they come home draped with a flag.


  1. Wow...I am speechless and in tears. Thank you. I appreciate your words and leading others to my story. All I want is to make an impact like it sounds like I did on you. This means the world to me. Thank you.

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  3. Absolutely the best way to put her life into words.

  4. God Bless the US Armed Forces and thier Families. Keep them Safe. V/R, Chief Pudloski

  5. This is beautifully written and I thank you for helping to put Katie's story out there. Sometimes people need to see this. And Katie is a true inspiration for anyone to 'never give up hope'.
    -Robin Auger

  6. God bless Katie...and you and Neal and all the thousands of other soldiers and their families. Love you!

  7. Definitely crying a little bit right now... what a beautiful, tragic, but sadly very needed post.

  8. Beautifully written. Thank you.

  9. Great post hun! I just went to Katie's blog - what a class act. I don't think our country "gets" it. So we really need to stick together and support each other!!


  10. And...there goes my mascara so early in the day. Ah well, everyone at work already knows I'm "off" anyway...
    It's so easy (for those of us who are far enough away from the impact) to see the statistics, the coffins being shipped home, or the wounded soldiers on the news and shake our head in sadness before turning away and going on with out day.
    Because our worlds are just fine. Perfectly normal.
    But we forget that our worlds are "just fine" because of the sacrifice and bravery of people like Neal and Chad, and the families that support them.
    Thank you for reminding me.

  11. You know, don't you, that we all fear that happening to you but we don't want to talk about it. I hope that his being a captain takes him farther away from the bad action, but I know that is rationalizing. I know that far more grunts are injured or killed than officers, but it could happen. I read your headline fast to get an idea where your post is going, and then take a breath and relax. You and Neal make us part of the 1% who even know a current soldier/sailor/marine. and we pray that your 333 nights will go fast.

    So brave of you to include Katie and share her story, when you don't want it to be yours, too. We can include her - we have a huge heart... just like you do.

    ps: go 'cats! xoxoxox

  12. This post breaks my heart for so many reasons. I will continue to have you and Neal in my prayers!

  13. I don't really have words, friend.
    You and Neal and all of our deployed soldiers and their families are in my prayers, always.

  14. You completely touched my heart with this. I can't even imagine the pain she must be feeling, and I never want you to feel anything even remotely similar. Please know that you're in my prayers, sweet friend. (As is Katie now.)

  15. I have no words of wisdom

    Just words of support and a grateful heart for all of the sacrifices of our armed forces and their loved ones.

    thank you thank you thank you a thousand times thank you

    that is all

  16. Beautiful post, and I will go read Katie's blog tonite, when I am at home, with Kleenex handy. I think if I read it now I will go into full-on ugly cry mode and that is not good for work.

    For me, personally, I get through my days relying on the statistics. (I am a total nerd like that) Yes, many of our troops dont come home, but SO MANY MORE do. Statisticly, its more dangerous for my husband on his commute every day to and from base here in the States, than on his base in Afghanistan. More Marines died in a year in motorcycle accidents than the same year in Iraq. The number of MURDERS in Detroit was higher than deaths of US troops in Iraq in 2008!!

    And then there is my favorite: my husband was in Afghanistan for 6 months with no incidents, he comes home for his 2 week R&R back in Feb, and we are ALMOST HIT BY A BUS THAT HAD DRIVEN UP ON THE SIDEWALK AT LAX!!!! My husband saw it at the last minute, threw me out of the way, and then he jumped for his life!! Crazy.

    I am not saying we shouldn't worry about our husbands over there, I am just sharing my nerdy way of how I rationalize the risk; how I make it through my day. I am also fortunate that my hubs isnt a ground pounder, he is a A/C-refer mech so most of the time he is on base, but he does have to go out on long convoys so those are the times where I rely on my nerdy facts to keep me sane. LOL. We all have our own way to get through it.

    Sorry for the novel, but I will keep you and your hubs in my thoughts! :)

  17. Well, this was a tough one to read. Yes, it's the one big thing that is always there...so many freaky things can happen. When I find myself worrying too much, I just visualize Neal,safe and sound in his little pod, doing paperwork, laughing at some silly thing and waiting for time to pass until he can call you again. For anyone who has not seen "Taking Chance", it is yet another way to gain perspective on what military families face everyday.

  18. Thank you for sharing this and as always for being so brutally honest. I wish I could hug you right now. I am so proud of you and all your bravery but most of all for being so open and sharing your feelings with us to help us all better understand the life of a soldier and his wife.

    Lastly I will say while I kicked and screamed about the Heel's loss... I am excited for you and UK!


  19. i'm kinda speechless here. god bless our troops and their families. thank you for sharing this with us!

  20. Wow...I'm with Tara...speechless. Such an honest and open post...must go read Katie's blog. May God richly bless you all.

  21. Thank you for sharing this. Prayers for Neal's safe return, and for your courage and strength.


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