Tuesday, April 22, 2008

So, back to the summer of 2005.

I had gone to New York to meet with Anne and her family, then her husband returned home while her son came with her to our house outside of Washington. We did a lot of tourist things: the Spy Museum unexpectedly being sort of a hit with Matthew, and visiting the West Wing of the White House. For anyone who is interested, the Press Room really was in dire need of renovation, or at least a really good cleaning, and I do not begrudge the press corps the improved quarters they received recently.

July brought us Thomas's birthday. This turned out to be unexpectedly hard, though I guess we should have realized. Both of the parishes Thomas had ever belonged to had Masses for him on that day: St. John the Baptist in Silver Spring, and St. James in Mt. Rainier MD. As we have not mastered the art of bilocation, we sent Maria and Matthew to the St. John's mass and took Edith to St. James, where our Cardinal Archbishop, Theodore McCarrick was saying the liturgy. This was coincidence but it was nice nonetheless, and Cardinal McCarrick said a few words about Thomas before he started. We were happy to be back in the parish where all of our children were baptized.

A couple of days after the birthday, I got a phone call from the lender of one of our car loans. I had totally spaced this payment, which was done by coupon, and mailed it at the very end of the grace period. Of course they didn't get it on time and they were wondering where their money was. My dialogue with the customer service rep was a little odd, as I told her that yes, I had mailed it the day before, and then she asked me if the money was a problem. And at that point, I told her no, money was not the problem, that we had lost our son in Iraq the previous November and that his 21st birthday would have been earlier that week. I ended up crying and she ended up saying no problem, they would not put a late fee on the payment (I think she must have marked that account permanently, because I was late one other time and never heard a word). I never meant to tell her that, but she was very kind and it seemed important to me at that moment to appear to be a responsible person, if distracted by my grief.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Every now and then I remember an event or person and think "I can't believe I forgot that." One of those events was in May, between the announcement of Sergeant Bordelon's death and his interment at Arlington.

Sometime in March or maybe early April, Richard had gotten the idea that he wanted to have a sort of open house to thank the people who had helped us, materially and spiritually, in the days and weeks after Thomas's death. The major difficulty was that we had not kept any sort of list of who those people were. Some were obvious: the folks who brought us food came back to mind pretty well. But the people who just passed through offering their condolences and sometimes their memories of Thomas, or the man who left his Bronze Star with us (he had earned it in Viet Nam but he felt that Thomas deserved it more than he did), those people were harder to find. We compiled a list and sent out invitations; though I forgot to tell people to please pass the word they did it anyway. This is what happens when your friends are drawn from a pool of volunteers. I'm sure we missed someone which bothers me but we did what we could to reach everyone.

And the day itself was lovely! The sun came out (we thought this might be Thomas's first miracle, though in Iraq his friends were compiling other stories of his intervention). People came and ate and drank and laughed as we felt ourselves thawing out, rejoining life. It was still hard, but it was becoming more apparent every day that some things that had been impossible to contemplate in the beginning were beginning to feel doable. I'm sitting in my backyard now typing, just where we had our little party. The sun is out and the squirrels are being their usual nutty selves. There is still bamboo growing back here that Thomas and his friend Brian had planted when they were in fifth grade and trying to build a fog pond (successfully). At the party too, we felt surrounded by happy memories of our son and brother and friend.

Though we knew we were going to be attending the service at Arlington, we still felt more hopeful about the future than we had for the previous six months.