Thursday, March 25, 2010

This morning I went to the funeral of the Montgomery County Stryker soldier. I met his mother who asked me "does it get better?" Six weeks, I told her, that's the lowest point, and then you start learning how to live with this. She had other people to greet, people she actually knew, or who had known her son, and so we left it that we would get together soon. But going to my seat I realized that the answer is more complicated than that. It seemed to me that the three weeks leading up to that six week mark were all very hard. When Anne came to see me at about the four week mark, I finally asked her when I was going to stop feeling so desolate. The desolation did pass but it took several months. And now, five years and a few months out, the intensity has faded--I almost miss it. I realized at the beginning though that the body knows how to grieve and will protect itself: that intensity would have been debilitating if it had lasted many months. I still grieve but I am also moving forward with my life.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

And now there is Facebook. I suspect that this is not exactly the culminating activity of the Internet, but it is one of the things that the Internet is getting better and better at--connecting people through these social interfaces. Thus, in the last few days, I have been able to reach out to the mothers of other fallen soldiers, one because his mother has communicated with Michael Yon (I just left a comment on Yon's status) and the other through the network of other fallen in Montgomery County--I've added two friends through that. People will not have to be alone. The Montgomery County mom is also the mother of a Stryker Brigade soldier and it can be lonely to be so far from their base of operations at Fort Lewis (which seems to have combined now with McChord AF base. Makes sense). I sent the friend request to the local mom a few minutes ago and I guess I'll see how that turns out. Finding the other families has been a challenge from the beginning because of privacy considerations, and it has been frustrating. People are certainly entitled to their privacy, but at the same time those who would like to talk to other families locally are stuck with the phone book in trying to find those families. We aren't listed, and I expect we are not alone in that, so even the phone book would be of no help.

All this to say that Facebook may be of great help in relieving the isolation. The Internet has certainly changed both our methods of communication, and the speed at which we communicate.


Saturday, March 06, 2010

On Wednesday, March 3rd, I went to a planning meeting at the Rockville Memorial Library. This is to plan displays and programs (maybe) for the county's libraries and grew out of the discussion at the Veterans' Commission about Memorial Day and Veterans' Day. In the course of Wednesday's discussion, I mentioned the stones the people have been putting on soldiers' graves as a sort of memorial, as well as the many things people have sent to us: quilts, pictures, other things. My remark to this group was that I've developed a little sympathy for the National Park Service which keeps and catalogues everything left at the VietNam War Memorial.

Anyway, the meeting was in Rockville and on the way home I thought I would stop at the cemetery. I hadn't been there since November because of the snow. When I got there I found that Thomas's grave marker had been cleared, as well as Eugene's. And stuck in the base of the vase was a Hershey bar and a tube of Rollos. I was happy to see that someone had been there. I took a picture with my phone and with luck I will be able to upload it here. For an explanation, read the comments on my last entry (March 2nd?).


Tuesday, March 02, 2010

This morning, the Washington Post had a story about a hockey player for the Caps who lost his infant son last summer. His little boy lived for 54 days in the NICU of Children's National Medical Center here in DC (the link won't paste but it's on today's front page of the Sports section of the Post: you might have to register to read it but it's free and the story is lovely). Jose Theodore finds solace on the ice, playing hockey, even though he is sometimes overwhelmed with the memory of the little boy he lost, Chace. He has founded a charity to benefit Children's, which in this area is known more informally as Children's Hospital. I read this story about a younger man who has already gone through so much of what I experienced when we lost Thomas--it was a difficult start to the day.

Thomas spent a night in Children's when he was five years old. After years of ear and throat infections that had held back his growth and probably contributed to a small language delay, the pediatric ENT decided that his tonsils should come out (I will never forget the medically accurate if linguistically inelegant phrase "Icky green goo here!"). He wore his bright yellow t-shirt and shorts from Lands' End and walked jauntily up the ramp from the parking lot towards the lobby of Children's, holding his daddy's hand. By the time I saw him after the tonsillectomy, he was considerably more subdued. But, he recovered well and he grew fast in the year following, freed from the cycle of infection and antibiotics, so no regrets about that.

I need to think about this.

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