Before I get too far into my journey with you here on this blog, I need to explain our family a bit more. My husband and I have always been very open and honest with our children about everything from our oldest being my husbands step son to the realities of life and death. I also want to say that I know there are millions of blogs, websites, books, etc on grief so I know this blog isn’t especially different than others out there. If it can help me through this time in my life that’s a plus, if it helps others along the way then its a bonus for me to have helped someone who needed reassurance they aren’t walking this path alone, both in losing a child this way and losing the faith thought to be there since you were born.
Big Bubby as he will be known here, chose to join the Army when he graduated from high school as he was not the college type. Coming from a military family, my husband and I were very proud of him for his decision to join the military. We hoped it would help him grow up a bit and let him see some of the world that I have never seen. So, graduation came and my baby boy left for boot camp and came back a soldier. He was deployed to Afghanistan for a year of his term in the Army. Before he left we discussed what would happen if something should happen to him, we made me power of attorney and he completed a will in the event he didn’t come home. I tell you this because of two reasons; 1) everyone should have a will and life insurance both for you and your children and 2) someone in your family should know your wishes should something happen to you. The other reason for telling you this is because on November 6th my husband and I sat at a restaurant and discussed getting the call no parent ever wants to get. We were now 8 and 14 hours from our kids and that call would be paralyzing to receive so far from where they were. My initial reaction to the call we received five days later is that it was our fault for discussing it out loud (yes, I know that was a crazy thought but so I thought it).
We hurriedly packed our bags just throwing what we thought we needed into them. I knew that we would need pictures because funerals now include slide shows of the deceased. One of the bags we had was nothing but pictures of our twenty-two years together as a family along with the hard drive and computer that held digital ones as well. The journey between New Orleans and Dallas (one hour and twenty minutes to be exact) was a very long plane ride of lists of those to notify who we hadn’t had a chance to already, what needed to be handled once we arrived and a lot of quiet crying. Our Red Headed Step Child (long time family friend of our three kids), Baby Sis, and Casper (Baby Sis’s best friend) were at the airport to pick us up as soon as we landed.
Once we were on our way to Big Bubby’s wife’s (known here as Cowgirl) house, it began to sink in what truly had happened less than eight hours before. As we drove in pretty much silence, I began to wonder how I would survive the coming hours, days, weeks, months, the rest of my life.
It had not registered to me that my son died the day before veterans day until we arrived at Cowgirl’s house. News media were parked outside her house wanting to do interviews with the family because Big Bubby was a war veteran. We chose not to engage in an interview at the time and didn’t end up doing one at all. The news media did pick up our story and ran a nice piece about Big Bubby with an interview from the witness that was there on the scene trying to help.
When I walked into the house, it was full of people. I think that I must have been numb because I don’t remember much about that afternoon/evening other than being at Cowgirl’s house and family and friends showing up. We spent most of the afternoon making phone calls to notify those who needed to be notified. We had called Our Red Headed Step Child to get our Baby Sis from school and keep her until we could get to her, we also called my sister-in-law as she was the closest to our Million Dollar Brother as we could get. She left work, went to tell my mother-in-law, and they left together to bring our Million Dollar Brother to us in Dallas from Texas Tech where he attends college.
Cowgirl’s dad offered their guest house to my husband and I since we now were living in New Orleans and didn’t have somewhere to stay. It was out in the country where we could get away from everything to decompress so to speak.
After notifying everyone we could think should be notified, making plans with Cowgirl for the next day to start the arrangements, we drove to the ranch. My husband, Million Dollar Brother, and I truly just roamed the house and property all night because we couldn’t sleep. Million Dollar Brother helped me go through pictures for a long time then we tried to sleep and couldn’t. So the three of us wandered until sunrise trying to make sense of what was about to be the worst week of our lives and the beginning of what would be my journey into grief, self evaluation, faith questioning, and learning to live without Big Bubby in our lives.