Friday, June 22, 2012

And just like that, one's life is forever changed

Last night, Traci and I were playing Bunco, chatting throughout the night about military life, the cruise she will go on with her husband, Paul, when he returns from Afghanistan, our workouts and how tonight is her 'lucky night' as she proudly wore the Bunco crown.  The plans for Paul's return were many, the days of single-parenting were long.  Life was one way.  Full of hopes, anticipation, trivial desires.  Traci would lose weight this summer, Paul would get a Jeep when he came home, we'll be sure to invite so-and-so to our next girls-night-out.  How life would completely change the next day.  How we would all lose our smiles.
I called Traci around 2pm to pick her brain about her religion.  I had some questions I needed answered in order to support another Jewish friend who wanted to attend Christian church with my family this weekend.  Traci invited me over to keep her company and I declined, knowing I had to cram for my Personal Trainer Certification test this weekend.  I would regret that decision in about 2 1/2 hours. 

Around 5pm, the phone rang.  It was Traci again.  In a soft, shallow voice, she said something along the lines of "I need you to come over"
Me:  "Why?"
Traci:  "Paul was killed"
Me:  "What"
Traci:  "Paul is dead and I need you here"
Me:  "Who?"
Traci (in a little louder voice):  "PAUL, my husband"
Me:  "What!?  I'll be right there"

Someone punched me in the chest.  I could barely stand and Barrett was not answering his phone.  I ran to the neighbor's house with my wobbling knees and asked her to watch the girls.  I jumped in my van and called my mom.  "What do I say, mom?  I don't know if I can handle this.  I don't want to see her tell the boys.  I can't believe this is happening.  This isn't fair." 

Over the next few hours, a few of us would sit by her as she recalled the details of most dreaded moment in a military-wife's life, called various family members and friends and sit her boys down and tell them the tragic news.  The latter is a moment I won't soon forget.  I knew I was witnessing two little boys being scarred for life.  I felt the anger inside my soul boiling over. 

Later, the thought that would bring me comfort was that Paul himself lost his father at the age of 6.  And he became one of the most humble, giving, loving, smart, gentle men I have ever met. 

People heal.  Traci will heal.  Life will never be the same, just like that.  But we will get our smiles back.  She will regain hopes and dreams.  We will get through this.  Together.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Our trip to PA, Part III

One of my (and certainly one of Laken's) favorite things about visiting PA is a trip to Aunt Judy's farm.

 Someone call a dentist
 I miss the beauty of PA

 I think Marielle just wanted to escape the heat, the animals and all the excitement

 Today we got to meet Chase and see Aunt Brooke and Uncle Adam for the first time in over 2 years.  They were living in Korea when Chase was born and didn't make it PA for Christmas last year.  Hopefully Daddy will get to meet his nephew before he's a teenager!  You kids are gonna grow up fast.

Our trip to PA, Part II

We celebrated Laken's 3rd Birthday in PA since Daddy was away for an Army training.  It was a blessing to have family around for this event.
 Grandma and Granddad bought you a beautiful cake with Dora on it (at your request).
We are definately missing Daddy 
A rare photo op with my and your cousins.
 I figured the best way to have a good time was just let you all be MESSY!

 No one was safe!

 I often wish you were growing up closer to your family
 You were incredibly spoiled with gifts today.  You were so enthusiastic with your "Thank you!"s  As usual, you amaze everyone with your fun, polite, excited and well-spoken personality.  You make me proud.
 We may have to do this again next year! 
Unfortunately, we are anticipating a deployment to Afghanistan as I write this, that will likely overlap your 4th birthday, but it is nice to know we have family who love to honor you on your special day when we need them.  And Daddy is good at making up for lost time when he is home!  Happy 3rd birthday, my love.  It's going to be a great year!

Our trip to PA, part I

What can I say about our trip to PA?  It was do-able.  And it was wonderful to see my family.  Marielle threw up all over herself on the way up.  She gave the bug to Laken who was up throwing up all night at the Aileo's during our stop in VA.  I reminded myself that although this is 'disgusting' and 'inconvenient', it is not 'tragic' or 'horrible'.  My Cognitive-behavioral therapy skills put to good use. 
Laken was able to look at this picture just now and point to herself saying "That's me at my friend's house feeling better cause I was sick".  This picture was taken 3 weeks ago.  I don't think that's normal intelligence for a child who just turned 3 a couple days ago.  Just sayin'.

 We celebrated Memorial Day at Aunt Gwen's pool.
  Hung out at Grandma and Granddad's house

 Visited the farm

And celebrated Melinda's baptism
As usual, I can look back and appreciate God's timing in things.  Now, we are ready for Daddy to get home from Ft. Polk, LA!