Honoring the military is what we do as a family. Remembering the fallen! Bringing awareness to PTSD! It has not only become my passion but my family’s passion. So why do I always feel the need to do something else? Why is there an ache that says it is not enough?
My word for the year is BEING and it has driven me bonkers. I wanted no part of this word. I didn’t know what it meant. It surely didn’t live up to MY expectations of what this year should be like. However, I plan to be faithful and I know that by the end of the year I will understand why this had to be my word. What I didn’t know was that this word would stretch me the way it has in just one short month.
I lost my daddy to suicide. Every day, I wake up and wonder WHY? I wonder what I could have done differently. I need just one more day so I can say the things I didn’t say. One more day to fix what was broken. One more day to convince him life is worth living. One more day to convince him I could be a better daughter if he would only stay. Yet, the reality is I will never have one more day. I talk to him, I love him here while he is gone, but it will never be the same.
I recently said that I hate that his memory died with him. I hate that people are afraid to talk about him. I was challenged to change that. I was challenged to understand that my family is only trying to protect me and, when they realize just how strong I am, they will talk about him again. I guess the reality is it begins with ME. It begins with accepting this life as we know it.
My family has been forever changed by WAR and SUICIDE. My daddy’s suicide was not a result of war. Life was just too hard. My husband came home from war and our home life changed. Every time he puts on that uniform I am reminded of what he does and why he does it. I have watched my girls start to follow in our footsteps in honoring the military.
This weekend we were making ribbons to honor the fallen for Bataan. Suzie was with me and she was getting frustrated. When she gets emotional, she is easily frustrated. You see, she was given a job to do and she felt she was given that job because we thought she wasn’t capable of the other jobs. It wasn’t that. She was given a job that needed to be done and later when she saw an adult out there she realized it was important. We moved her around to other jobs but she worked tirelessly alongside the adults. We had about 350 ribbons to make. She said it is really not that many ribbons. So I explained that each ribbon represented a life lost, and each ribbon was requested by a grieving family member. Every now and then she would take a break and go play but she always came back to work on the ribbons. She is ready to go back and do more.
In November, we took pictures of the Boot Memorial and this was where Georgia had her awakening. I was ordering her a remembrance bracelet and was talking to Suzie about whether she wanted one. She struggled with the decision. You see, she wants to honor them but she doesn’t wear bracelets. She was worried that this was wrong. We talked it through and I think the ribbon work is just as important as wearing the bracelet. She knows if she ever changes her mind, she can get a bracelet.
I have gone to bed each night restless and thinking. These thoughts leak into my dreams because I know the reality is one day the boot, the bracelet, the ribbon, they could all represent Aaron. I pray every night selfishly that it never does. I vow to honor these men and women for their sacrifice because my worst nightmare is their reality. I also dream of my daddy and the world he left behind.
It has me thinking about those 22 suicides a day in our military community. I don’t know the reality of suicide as a result of Combat PTSD, but I do know the reality of war and of suicide. I have had something heavy placed on my heart and I don’t fully know yet what it will look like. I have about six weeks to figure it out but I will.
When I cross the start line at Bataan, I will have a bracelet on my arm that represents the 14 men and women in Jason’s unit. Those fallen never leave me and they never will. They are the inspiration behind Battle Flag Ranch. They, along with our husbands, are what drive Combat Boot Divas. Medals of Honor is making sure that the fallen are not forgotten. We will be passing out ribbons for the fallen at Bataan for others to honor them. Yet, this is not enough for me.
MY PACK will represent those who lost their battle with PTSD to suicide. I want to represent them in an honorable way. I want others to remember these men and women and the honorable life they lived, not their death. I want to make a video documenting this. I don’t know how to do this. I will need help. I need to know who you lost and I need you to share with me. I need you to help me honor them.