Tuesday, October 20, 2009

I feel awful. This is basically an emotional hangover, not swine flu or a more conventional hangover. Yesterday, I was part of a panel that spoke to Maryland mental health professionals who want to work with returning veterans and their families and even though I feel it went well, it is still very, very draining. I kept thinking of the things I should have said *too* though thankfully I have not thought of anything I should definitely *not* have said. We laughed, we cried. I tried to be honest, and I tried to be a little funny because I think that Thomas would have much preferred it that way. It was not about Thomas anyway, it was about the rest of us and our survival.

After I left the seminar (we were the last session) and also left the discussion after the session where I got to hear a couple of stories of the people in front of me, also heartrending, I moved my car a couple of blocks and went to a restaurant across from the Regal theatres and had a glass of wine and some of the most deadly potato chips I've ever seen. They featured blue cheese and maybe sour cream and chives . . . the wine was a little more conventional. Then I walked around the Rockville Public Library (someday it will be Memorial) for about 45 minutes, checked out a book, and then left to go to the MCCPTA Legislative dinner, a couple of miles north.

I was still wearing my Gold Star Banner pin on my lapel--for some reason I was inordinately proud of my new clothes, including a nice jacket that let that pin shine out--and got to answer questions about what it meant. I don't often wear anything that overtly says "I am a Gold Star Mother" because for one thing, a lot of people have no idea of the significance of the Gold Star. Last night, it seemed to be right and appropriate to begin the education of those who were lucky enough to not know. I think I did it gently, but today I am as exhausted as if I had run a marathon.

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Tuesday, October 06, 2009

I'm thinking that I will be shifting the focus of this blog very soon from so much reminiscing (which I think becomes a little less interesting as we get further away in time from Thomas's death) to more comment on our current situation. I started writing this in June of 2006 and I am now nearly at the end of 2005 in my writing. In fact, I can pretty much tell you that the rest of 2005 was unremarkable and move on from there! When I look at my calendar, I see a bunch of doctor appointments for various family members including my mother-in-law, husband and myself. Exciting stuff. I will check out the 2006 calendar next time and go on from there.

The Weekend of Remembrance activities were really very nicely done. The dinner on Friday night, the 25th of September, was actually tasty and the speakers and entertainment were great. The blue-frosting cupcakes, I'd recommend skipping. We had assigned tables and our tablemates were a family from Connecticut who had lost their son, a Marine corporal, on August 25, 2006. They were accompanied by friends and in fact the program kept the noise level low enough for us all to have a real conversation. Jordan is buried in Section 60. The actual Time of Remembrance ceremony was on Saturday at noon on the west lawn of the Capitol which was lovely and much easier to get to than the Washington Monument grounds they have used in previous years. As in earlier years, there were short speeches, including one by Kevin Bacon which was very gracious (clearly an outgrowth of his role in "Taking Chance") and various military folks and members of the White House Commission on Remembrance, and H. Ross Perot who is a very generous man and enthusiastic, shall we say? The president sent a letter, read by a member of the Commission. The rain held off until the picnic began afterwards but there were tents. We again ran into our Friday evening tablemates who seemed a bit more relaxed (rain will do that for you) and were enjoying the events. I have their card--e-mail is a wonderful thing.

Dinner and the picnic were organized and funded by Families United. I am very grateful to them for doing this.

The card idea is one that I roll around in my head but keep failing to act on. It would be handy to have these because frankly we are involved at least on the periphery in a number of causes having to do with the fallen and it would be a lot handier to have a business card than to keep writing our e-mail incomprehensibly on the back of scrap pieces of paper. It may become especially convenient now as two things have developed (or continued developing) recently: first, our ongoing struggle with Montgomery County Maryland on the issue of the Rockville Memorial Library (no, we don't want a rock in Veterans' Park which is a wide spot in the median of Rockville Pike and has no safe access by foot nor designated parking; we also are not keen on the "temporary eternal flame" they offered as part of the Veteran's Day celebration which they are trying to keep "low-key"). Second, it appears that there is no appropriation for the White House Commission on Remembrance in the budget that was presented to Congress. This too is a low-cost item which generates a certain amount of goodwill. Letting it expire seems foolish. Ahem.

So there we are. We are approaching the five year anniversary of Thomas's death and I'm seeing some consequences, things that keep bubbling to the surface. Over these years we've resolved some things, but clearly there is a lot left to deal with (including my propensity for ending sentences with prepositions).