Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Army Wives (and 300!)

301 to be exact.  When I started this blog I never imagined that so many people would read it.  I was pleasantly surprised when I logged on this morning to see that my followers had passed the 300 mark.  I want to thank all of you for reading my story and passing it along.  It is so important to me to tell people our story and as time goes on it warms my heart to see how many people are interested in it.  Not to mention the support I receive here.  Much love to you all!

I'm sure most of you military spouses are sucked into good ole Army Wives.  I've been watching from day one and we all knew what we were in for last night.  That show tugged at my heart as it was a lot of flashback and how I remember things.  The thing that bugs me is about 10 days worth of stuff was packed into 45 minutes.  People pass off the assumption that they know what it's like now that they have seen an episode about it on television.  No.  No you don't.  Or the fact that people say how they cried and cried and they couldn't even imagine.  You're right.. you couldn't.  If you think watching it on tv is bad.. ha!  Try an hours worth in real life. 

I think it kinda bugs me sometimes to know that people say "Oh, that breaks my heart I could never even imagine going through that.. I feel so bad for the widows."  Right.  But what bugs me is knowing in the back of people's minds they are saying "thank God it's not me."  I know if roles were reversed I'd be saying it too, but I hate knowing what people really have going on in their head.  You saw glimpses into what it might be like.  Sure a lot of things were right and it gave you a decent idea, but there is so much more to it than that. 

I recently started writing a memoir for class, which I plan on changing because I don't like it; but it is so incredibly painful to rehash those memories.  Until I started writing this I had no idea how much I had pushed that pain away in a place where I didn't dig it out.  But writing it on paper.. trying to relive it.. is like breaking my heart all over again.  I actually had to stop writing because I don't know that I could have handled anymore and to be quite honest I didn't remember much more after that because it quickly became a living fog.  I'm going to share what I have with you (it is not the final product by any means), but I would really like some feedback on it.  I would really appreciate it :)

So here's my memoir about the morning of September 2nd:

It was a beautiful morning, the sun was shining bright and I could feel its rays through the high window in my room.  I rolled around in my bed as I heard my cell phone ringing thinking it was my alarm.  Of course, another phone call and someone waking me up before my alarm.  Grumpy and tired I rolled over and picked up my phone.  I saw it wasn’t my boyfriend; it was his Dad, which was even more disappointing because if I’m getting up early it at least better be a call from Afghanistan.  I missed the call so I listened to the voicemail that said to call him back.  Something was off.  Something didn’t feel right.  I frantically hit send on my phone and it started ringing.  “Chrissy,” started off the worst conversation of my life.  I sat up in my bed, clearly something was wrong.  Maybe he was just hurt.  Maybe something happened to his mom. Maybe they needed something.  I yelled, “what is going on?”  More than once.  I wish I had never gotten a response.  His voice trembled as I heard, “Chrissy, Josh was killed this morning.”  Oh, no. No. No. No. This was not going to happen to me.  No way.  It can’t be.  I kept telling him he was lying to me.  He wasn’t lying.  The casualty assistance officer was there.  It was real.  A military spouses worst nightmare was about to become my life.  He hung up the phone and I sat in my room.  I couldn’t even cry.  Thoughts raced through my head, what do I do?  Is this real?  I took off out of my bed and down the stairs.  I, hysterically, went through the rooms yelling for my Nana.  She was putting my little cousins on the bus outside, but she heard me and came through the door asking what was wrong.  “Nana, they killed him.” I hit the floor.  And burst into tear.  It was real.
As I sat there on the floor holding my Nana’s leg like I had nothing left she asked me over and over again if I was sure.  Was I sure?  Maybe it’s a mistake?  It could be.  Maybe I’m dreaming.  Nope.  I’m wide-awake.  Is this really happening to me?  Is this what this feels like? Because I didn’t see it happening this way.  I managed to text a few of my friends.  All they said was “Josh died.”  I couldn’t get anything more than that out at the moment.  In between my tears I looked up seeing my five-year-old cousin peering around the corner with fear in her eyes wondering what was going on.  What was going on?  Mass chaos.  That’s what.  My nana had left me on the floor as I heard her call my aunt, who was on her way to work, telling her to come back home.  My great grandparents (who are 90 and 86) came flying in the door.  I could see the heartbreak and pain in their eyes.  No one knew what to say.  I cried.  And cried.  And cried.  For so long my Pap has fixed all my life problems.  But today.. he was just as helpless as I was.  A few minutes later my aunt came running around the corner with tears in her eyes.  She crouched down beside me on the floor hugging me as I rocked back and fourth.  Somehow I made it to the couch.  I remember sitting there.  Word had spread like wild fire.  I had facebook notifications going to my phone because while he was gone that was his way of waking me up if he didn’t have a phone.  I sat there.  Holding my phone.  Not even able to keep up with the calls, text messages, facebook notifications.  The pure panic and shock that I felt, was felt by others as well.  I thought for sure my phone was going to blow up.  I couldn’t even keep up with all of the messages coming through.  Before I knew it flowers were showing up at the door.  Flowers?  Come on people I haven’t even processed what is happening and you already have flowers at the door?  My dad came with my brother.  Watching his sweet little girl completely devastated willing to do whatever it takes to make it better.  I grabbed my laptop.  I remember emailing Dr. Fello and Dr. Creany, my professors for my classes the morning, telling them briefly and bluntly I won’t be there today. 
It was only a matter of time before the news stations caught wind.  Knocking on the door, calling my cell phone, driving around town looking for answers.  Go away.  They want me to admit this is real already?  I don’t think so.  I don’t even know what’s going on to be honest.  The bottomless, nauseous, pit in my stomach is over whelming.  I logged on to facebook.  A chat box popped up.  It was one of Josh’s good friends who was serving in Afghanistan.  His brother had died the year before.  As comforting as it was to talk to him for a few minutes I remember thinking how bad I felt for him when it happened.  Now its me?  Now I understand what it was like for him?  Not to be a jerk, but it was better when it was someone else.  I didn’t want it to be me.  We had a life planned.  We were supposed to get married.  We were supposed to have a family.  This deployment was the last of the Marine Corps.  Why?!  Why me?!  It wasn’t supposed to happen this way.  I don’t want it to happen this way.
That’s it.
I’m going back to sleep.  I slammed my laptop shut.  Grabbed my fuzzy blanket and my care bear who has never let me down my whole entire life.  I laid my head down on the pillow.  I remember feeling the throbbing and discomfort from the amount of tears I had cried that morning.  I closed my eyes.  I waited.  I cracked open an eye.  It was still happening.  I closed my eyes again.  Go to sleep, Chrissy.  Just go to sleep.  You’ll wake up and everything will be okay.
Before I knew it someone else was barging through the door.  I heard them talking to my aunt in the kitchen.  She came over and bent over by the couch.  I had to go to Josh’s parents.  The CACO (Casualty Assistance Officer) was going to be there shortly.  I argued about getting a shower.  I lost that battle as my aunt shoved me up the stairs.  I kept thinking really? Who gives a crap if I take a freakin shower right now?  Not me.  BUT I did it anyways to shut everybody up. 
I started getting myself together as I heard two of my friends at the door.  I talked to them for a few minutes but everyone was rushing me to get over there.  FINE.  You people need to relax I’ll get there when I get there.  I’m not the most prompt person when my whole life comes tumbling down.  I quietly got into the car.  I remember driving over and I swear every song that ever meant something came on the radio.  The tears strolled down my face as I passed through the roads I only ever took to see him.  I clung to the little stuffed pig in my lap.  It was his pig from when he had surgery as a tiny tot.  Mr. Piggy don’t fail me now.  Please make it better.  Right you psycho like a stuffed pig is going to fix your life right now.  Wishful thinking.
We pulled in.  His uncle was the first to meet me wrapping his arms around me, calling me “bud” just like he always did.  Then his mom.  She grabbed me and I cried.  I watched the black explorer with US Government on the license plate.  Two men in their Alphas.  They shut the car doors and walked toward the house.  His mom put her arm around me and walked in side.  I sat down in a chair closest to the two Marines.  Clinging to the pig in my lap.  I looked around.. his parents, two brothers, sister, and one uncle sat quietly in the room.  The Staff Sergeant opened his black folder and started to talk.  It was real.  My body went into a fog.. setting itself on auto pilot.. and I was about to start the hardest and worst journey of my life..


  1. Well, you're a great writer. I believe you captured every possible emotion. You've got this. Keep moving forward. Damnit I wish I had something better to say... You strength shines through everything you do!

  2. Chrissy, you are an amazing person. I dont know how you do it. I know, you hear that alot dont you? Its probably something you are beginning to hate hearing and Im sorry. But thats all I can say. I love reading your blog and your memoir is tear jerking...but its a great memoir. I hate the last part as usual...and yes, its ALWAYS in the back of our minds "Im glad that it didn't happen to me." But never say never...Im sorry Chrissy. I love you girl.


  3. It is absolutely amazing. You are right I cant even imagine and I would never even remotely act like I could. You're so strong for being able to write not only this but all of your blogs. Your blog about realizing what you have instead of complaining about little things that don't really matter gave me a new outlook on my life. even though my husband has been to afghanistan and I know the fear of the unknown I don't know the pain of moving on without him with me. You are inspirational.

  4. I cried. Just like I did when I heard about this. My tears didn't help you or anyone else whose heart was ripped out when this happened but I couldn't help it. Nightmares resurfaced and tiny little eyes came back to haunt us. I heard about it while I was supposed to be sleeping and while he was supposed to be dreamlessly asleep too.
    The courage it took to even put those horrible days and hours and moments onto paper proves once more just what a true and graceful lady you are. I can tell you to be strong and that your strength has on more than one occasion given me a reason to keep moving. My reasoning "If Chrissy can get up every morning and get through a day after this nightmare she can't wake up from then so can I". . .
    I can tell you to keep your chin up and smile but I won't. Truth be told if I were in your shoes I would be angry too. Please don't let anyone dictate how long or how hard or how you choose to grieve. You are allowed. You earned it.
    I won't watch Army Wives but I did last night. I can't imagine it even came close to accurately describing that pain or the "experience". Finish your memoir. It would be a shame for the world to miss your story.
    You are a beautiful person all around and you always alway always continue to humble and amaze me.

  5. I'm amazed at the strength you have, and the ability to rehash what you have gone through that has made you a mighty pillar of strength to others out there going through similar things.

  6. That was so eye opening. Thank you for sharing!

  7. Now your followers turned into 301 :D


  8. I have followed your blog for a while now. I just want to tell you that I think you are a amazing young lady. I think your memoir is great keep writing.

  9. Chrissy, your memoir is absolutely breathtaking, tear-jerking, raw, and real. I wouldn't change a thing about it.

    Everyone says, "Oh I couldn't imagine.." when it comes to this. I've even said that, but the more deployments we go through, I've found that, for me, it's a waiting game. I hold my breath for 12 months because I just never know who it is that's going to be knocking at my door. It could be any of us at any given time. No one wants to live without their life partner, but being a military spouse or significant other, that's a possibility we all face. I pray to God that if it does happen to me, I have the kind of strength and poise you've demonstrated.

    You have been through Hell and back, and I may not have many words of encouragement, but I know that I look up to you for what you've endured these last several months.

  10. I am sure that was incredibly hard to write. Sometimes though it is healing to get it down on paper. I almost got the knock at the door and that Army Wives episode broke my heart. I can't imagine how you felt living it in real life and making it through the the briefing with the CACO. I am praying for you.

  11. A few others have said it, but keep writing. Outside of this community, few people know about the sacrifices so many families have made - they need to hear your story! and you've written it so honestly and simply, people will notice.

    I don't know what, if anything, it will mean to you but I remember that morning so vividly- I was in class. Of course being in class meant I was on facebook & corpswives- I logged in and I saw the statuses, posts and comments - I gasped out loud. Loud enough to get everyone's attention.

    My next thought was to slam the laptop shut and run out of the room. I ran to my car and, out of breath, I called my mom and cried. I didn't know you guys well in person - but I knew your story and I did get to witness a little of your love. I cried for the plans you made - my first thought was you planned your future. You had it all set.. just a count down til the good part got to start. And I cried for Ashleigh and Colten - it is too much to handle - too many people hurt, to many emotions, to many fears, too much.

    That day changed sometime in me - tragedy became real, the plot of movies was being played out. I got home and started going through the pictures - making sure there were none that I missed. Making sure each one was perfect - wishing I could just find more images hidden somewhere - maybe there were more I could give you, maybe there was something else I didn't see that could comfort you - make you feel he was still here. Of course, no matter how many pictures - nothing can compare. I flipped back and forth, windy beach pictures, homecoming hugs, his whole family together waiting, the picture of you all in the parking lot, more at the beach, more with the sunset, you running and jumping into his arms. In between are out of focus, over or underexposed missed opportunities - every mess up on my part just felt like I failed you somehow - somehow I should have known each of those seconds would be so so important now...

    You should know your story is changing lives - I know I hug my loved ones a little tighter, I never miss the chance to tell people how I feel. At 23, death still seemed so far away until you witness something like this and realize life is so fragile. It may not help you to know that, but I know my family appreciate the extra steps I take to make sure they know I care so deeply.

    You have been an amazing example of turning the greatest sadness into beautiful kindness - how many Marines felt your love through one of your care packages? You are showing so much strength - and you have a world of thoughts and prayers headed your way every single day! <3

  12. Chrissy, that was beautiful. Please finish your memoir on your own time. It means so much to everyone and we all love you.

  13. First off, I want to give you major props for writing this. It could not have been easy to write, let alone in such a vivid tone. This is my first time by your blog & I am not a follower via GFC.

    My husband's last tour he lost 2 very close friends in Afghanistan. It is something that no one should have to go through. Though my Soldier came home, with him losing his 2 friends, I was brought into the world of those who have gave all. A little too close for comfort but close enough to know that you are amazing for going through this and continuing on. As hard as I know it is for you.

  14. A show on "Lifetime" could never come close to feeling as real as your own story, in your own words. You are so brave. Thank you for sharing your story with the world.