Thursday, November 06, 2008

We are close to the anniversary. In the last week we've gotten a Mass card from a captain who has sent one every year (or had his stepfather send it) and a long letter from Thomas's friend David. It fills in some details for us of their time in Iraq, however brief. David also talked about the two photographs he sent us: one of the two guys at Ft. Knox during training that we displayed at the funeral, and one of Thomas with another soldier in Tal Afar on October 21, 2004. It is good to know--that is the last photo we have of him. (This image is from that picture.)


We arrived in Seattle in the middle of the morning, the joint function of crossing three time zones and taking a very early nonstop flight. It did give us a lot of the day to visit with people, have lunch, check in to our hotel in Olympia, walk around trying to cope. It just felt so damn weird to me. Anna had to come on a later flight so she was not with me as I returned to Sea-Tac for the first time since we had said goodbye to Thomas. I remembered meeting him there a year earlier--someone from Fort Lewis had dropped him off and he met us at baggage claim as we arrived--it seemed like he should be walking through the door this time too. Driving down I-5 past the exit to Tillicum where we had said goodbye in a Taco Bell parking lot . . . well, it was hard. And it was mixed up with all the memories of growing up in this area too. I drove up and down this stretch of road many, many times, essentially from the time it was built to visit grandparents, to visit friends, to go to Seattle for various events or up to Canada to camp even to go to the airport for other, happier trips . . . so many memories.

Still, it helped that the sun was shining on this particular day, that traffic was not impossible (after years on the Capitol Beltway, no traffic except maybe Rome's looks impossible!), and that I knew exactly where I was going so at least we were not heading off into entirely unknown territory.

We arrived at the Governor House hotel around noon and parked our rental car in the back. Richard and I went inside to check in and were immediately confronted with the Daily Olympian's issue for that day on the front desk, noting the death of the 2,000th servicemember in Iraq. Names of those with local connections, including all of the Fort Lewis members, were printed in fainter type on the front page, shadowing the story. I found Thomas's name without trying. We did tell the desk clerk why we were there and she expressed her sympathy. Maybe she was aware that across the street behind her people were going to be protesting in the park later on that day. We never did interact with the protesters (Maria doesn't even remember seeing them): maybe we only saw the debris they left behind, candles and signs.


At November 6, 2008 at 3:34:00 PM PST , Anonymous barbara said...

Primary 2 boys and girls got home a sheet for them to fill in names (within hearts with the words Please Pray For..) of the faithfully departed for whom the class will pray during November.
I have filled it in with the names of Thomas, Patty's son, the 3 fishes - their names, the Boy's grandad (my father) and my dear Katherine, and of course, Baby William (though more for his mummy and daddy).
See I do read your blog sometimes (wanted to check details).

At November 7, 2008 at 7:25:00 PM PST , Anonymous Laurie said...

I like the photo of Thomas, Lee Ann. I did not know him, but he looks relaxed to me. I know it is a comfort to have things given to you by the soldiers that surrounded him.
Blessings to you
Laurie, Chase's mom

At November 7, 2008 at 8:50:00 PM PST , Blogger Me and I said...

I'm thinking of ya'll a lot this weekend... Maybe I'll see ya on Tuesday ??

Thanks for sharing so many intimate memories, and elaborating on "the rest of the story".

--Jason "Thomas's basic training buddy"

At November 10, 2008 at 12:30:00 PM PST , Blogger Lee Ann said...

Jason, happy to see you any time! You can always e-mail at

Lee Ann


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