I purposely didn't blog Sunday, September 11, 2011. It wasn't because I was in a dark place or anything like that. I got up really early that morning and watched about 2 hours of the 9/11 coverage and it was sad. I'm absolutely blown away by the memorial in NY and would love to visit there one day. There is a petition circulating around the Gold Star Families to try and get a memorial for fallen soldiers added to the site, but not sure when/if that will happen. So rather than be sad and have a sappy blog regarding 9/11 or Chad I decided I would wait until I completed my baseboards at home and had my cleaning therapy on Sunday and write a more upbeat blog. So here goes...
The first thing I thought of (like most Americans) was, where was I when I realized what was happening on 9/11/01. I was working the front desk at the doctor's office I was working at and my first thought immediately went to Chad. Oh gosh, is he safe? Is something going to happen at the schools? That's really all I could think of at that moment. Then, once I realized I'm sure we were fine here in NW Arkansas, I immediately started thinking of my family on my mom's side that lived in NY very close to the Twin Towers. Once we were all informed that our family was safe the reality of what took place was so surreal. Chad was in high school and just focusing on friends and driving and hunting. Nothing else much mattered at that time for him. Once he enlisted into the Marine Corps I immediately thought, will he go to war. Well, at the time, his recruiter really didn't think he had a huge chance of being deployed to a war zone so I didn't allow myself to worry about it. When we were told he would be deploying the first time in 2009 to Iraq I thought oh no! They said he probably wouldn't have to go, but I knew he signed up for this and it was his duty. I could have signed some paper work to keep him from being deployed since he was an only child, but I knew my son couldn't live with himself had that happened and anything happened to one of his buddies so we took it like we were suppose to and it went better than expected. It is never good when someone is deployed especially in a war zone, but if you had to be fighting in a war at that time, Iraq was the place to be. He saw some action and he did experience casualties, but nothing like he would eventually experience. He returned home from Iraq and got married and they started their married lives in CA when he got the news that he would deploying again and this time to Afghanistan. I was just sick. Yes, he called to see what I thought he should do and I did not tell him not to go. I simply told him he had to do what he knew was best for him and what he could lay his head down at night and be at peace about. With that being said, he chose to go. I admire and respect him for making that decision, because I know he didn't make it lightly. He wasn't even at his final destination in Afghanistan a full 6 weeks when his accident took place and he lost his life. It is a day and time I will never forget the rest of my life and honestly, had the events of 9/11 not taken place there is a very good chance that my son would still be alive today. The one thing I will not let myself do is 2nd guess the advice I gave Chad on that day he called to ask me what he should do. I will not regret what I told him nor will I regret the fact that he chose to go. Chad did what he felt in his heart was the right thing for him to do and since I gave him my word that I would support him 100% when he enlisted it is my obligation to continue to support him now.
It hurts, don't get me wrong for a second and like the song says, if heaven wasn't so far away I would pack my bag right now. There isn't one second of my life that I'm not thinking and missing him. That will never change, but I am still so very proud of him. My heart breaks for those families that lost someone in all the attacks (not just at the Twin Towers) that day, because they had no warning. No idea that they were putting their lives on the line that day when they left their homes. We knew Chad would be in danger. It's not like you can prepare for something like this, but you at least know that possibility lurks around the corner. These poor people did not have that. It was a normal day like any other day and that's all they knew.
I pray daily that we truly have an end to war. I don't know if that is realistic or not, but it's what I pray none the less. I never want another family to ever experience what we have experienced. It's a sadness that truly is difficult to put into words.
Tim McGraw has a song about "If you are reading this, I'm already home". Well, like that song says, Chad use to play like he was a Marine and fighting the bad guys when he was younger and I never dreamed the true brutality of war and that my baby boy with the curls on his head would ever be a victim of such a thing. I just figured like all other parents that he would get through high school, go to college (or not), and get a job and get married and one day have children of his own and that will be that. I just knew he would have to help take care of me once I developed Alzheimer's and I would see him turn into a grown man that would almost 100% mimic my daddy. That's just what I thought. Well, that wouldn't be the case now and now I have to somehow figure out a way to erase some of those future plans that "I" had in my head would happen for Chad and figure out what I'm suppose to do with the rest of my life for as long as the Lord plans to keep me here. I know our foundation plays a huge role in this "new normal" life I have and one day if I'm lucky it will be all I do full time, but right now it's just a part (although a huge part). Every day is basically a training day for how I will get through until tomorrow and I will get there. Right now happens to be a period where I'm not sleeping much and when I do wake up all I think of is Chad. Maybe the night will come when I can actually close my eyes and actually sleep and rest, but right now that doesn't seem to be the case. In the meantime I will continue taking one step and one breath at a time like many other families are doing and try to get to tomorrow.