Monday, March 21, 2011

I have a stupid confession to make about clothing. Remember the LA Times article in which I had watched one of the hoarding shows and realized that I needed to figure out that Thomas's closet needed to be dealt with? My husband and I did go to that corner of the basement and opened up the portable closet, going through the jackets and T-shirts that Thomas had left in there. One or two made their way upstairs to Matthew's closet. I think we gave away a bag. And then there were the T-shirts. I keep thinking that I will make a T-shirt quilt out of the vast collection that included school, Army and church events Thomas had been part of so I made a disheveled stack of those and left them on top of the closet. Inside were still some jackets. Friday we went back and looked again, thinking this basement needs to be cleared out. Richard handed me the stack of shirts which, this is hard to describe, had enough body to them to hug. I stood there weeping for a moment over these shirts because I could put my arms around them and I can't put my arms around Thomas. Ultimately the stack made it all the way to my sewing room, in a bag, along with a tie that has owls all over it, courtesy of the Nature Conservancy (a premium of some sort obviously. I think we still have the umbrella with the incredibly homely baby osprey as well). The jackets are mostly pretty nice but the problem is that Thomas was a lot thinner than his dad and narrower than his little brother has grown up to be. Most of the jackets are mediums which won't go over Matthew's shoulders (we'll leave out the problems Richard would have . . .). So now I have to figure out a destination for those.

And my own stuff. In my closet I have two sweaters: a red cashmere hoodie I was wearing the day I said goodbye to Thomas, and the navy blue cardigan I was wearing when they came to tell me he was gone. I did wear both of them afterwards, but the red sweater has holes now and I just got tired of the navy blue. Nonetheless, they will stay in my possession, probably forever.

Sunday, March 06, 2011

I decided I needed a new look. It's kind of a radical change from my the old blog look and I'm not sure the pictures made it through (I can't remember which posts had pictures at the moment). Also seem to have lost the sitemeter which may or may not be a good thing. It's not as if I ever had a huge number of people reading--mostly it was to see who was still reading and whether putting some mention of my blog somewhere would boost readership. I'll see how this goes.

It's been a long couple of months--my mother-in-law just finished her third stint in the hospital and is now in rehab. I'm tired. It's not quite as emotionally trying as Thomas's death, but it has some relationship to it.

I just spent an hour listening to people talking about sacrifice in relation to the Global War on Terror on the Diane Rehm show. I'm sorry--that was about the most sanitized discussion that I've heard on this war, and the comments posted online varied from hostile (to the war and servicemembers) to incoherent. The panelists did not really get to say much of substance, I think because there were too many of them for anyone to be able to get into his or her subject in depth so there was a kind of glancing reference to a lot of issues. I don't think much of anyone has a clue about how the Gold Star families are coping or not coping. Most people do not seem to realize that as parents we don't get any further privileges (since Thomas was not married, we did get his life insurance money and any other assets he left behind)--we don't get to use commissaries or enter bases without inspection, though the inspection may change in part for the Army families. Initially, we had no support from the armed services beyond our casualty assistance officer, who was only legally with us for 90 days (she did stick with us much longer). Survivor Outreach services exist now, but we have not spoken directly with them despite a couple of phone messages left on our voicemail (and yes, I tried calling back). A few nonprofit organizations like TAPS support families in grief, but it does seem like the nation might be interested as well . . .

This may all sound bitter and angry but really I am not. A lot of other people are. It really is time to start looking very carefully at the fallout from these conflicts.

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