One of the things I've observed since the beginning is that unexpected things keep popping up. People appear with a story, or a reporter asks a question, or someone sends a memorial item they have made (quilts and afghans, a candleholder
, a painting). Some of them add to the information we have and others just offer comfort.
So, the last two days have been like that. Yesterday we received a packet from the Department of the Army: Army Long Term Case Management office. In a way it was self-generated because when they made the initial contact, I asked them for the paperwork to get a Gold Star Pin so we could apply for the Maryland Gold Star Family license plates for our cars. Yesterday the paperwork came, along with a pin.
One thing I had not expected to receive in this was the final Report of Casualty. We had copies of the interim report, which came immediately and allowed us to get access to Thomas's
bank account and other things. On there, box 4f which is labelled "circumstances" says "Determination Pending." The final report has instead: "Hostile Action: Gunshot wound of the head, per DD Form 2064 (Certificate of Death)." Even though I knew that was the cause of death, seeing it in official print was a bit of a shock. Nearly four years later, I still avoid thinking about the cause of death. This will sound odd or something, I don't know what. But, when we got his body a week after his death, there really was no visible wound. This may be a tribute to the mortuary art, or he may have been hit in the back of the head (though I don't see how this is possible, given descriptions of the incident from those who were there). Maybe I'll just be grateful for now and look for more information later.
When Richard came home yesterday, I showed him the packet and the Report of Casualty of course. He knew I had asked for this. He saw the pin, a lapel pin with the gold star on a purple background surrounded by a wreath of laurel, and took it out of its box. And then he pinned it to his blazer lapel. He did ask if I wanted it, but I have other pins.
Today an offer of a prayer shawl in Thomas's
memory appeared in the mail. Though I think of prayer shawls as a more Jewish aid to worship, this seems to be from a Catholic group which is local to us. I know there is a movement out there to do these, but I don't know much more than that--I guess it's time to find out more! I'm a little surprised to get this nearly four years after the event, but perhaps this group did not form until recently.
Still, as I started this post, things keep turning up. Who know what tomorrow may bring?