I have rolled these things over and over in my mind for 5 years. Like a bad dream that comes only it is not when I am sleeping. It is most often when I am driving alone or late at night when everyone else is asleep. Sometimes, it is out of the blue, absolutely nothing to trigger it and I am there again. I am right back to the day. It feels like something is stealing my air from my chest. It feels like panic and I am scared. I think I know now that I will always go back to that day. I used to wonder if time would lessen how sharp it feels to think about it, but I know that it is as cutting now as it was back then. Some things do not seem to lessen with time.
May 15, 2010 was a Saturday morning. It was a pretty crappy Saturday morning. My life, our life, was stressful at that time. It was a whole bunch of big things and a few little things, but icky would describe it pretty good. I knew from previous less than perfect times, that this would come and go like always, it was the swimming through it that stank. I got up that morning and decided to drive farther out to the Girl Scout store to pick up our end of year badges and then I had Kohls cash to go spend. Shopping is a happy thing for me, so I was choosing shopping for this crappy Saturday morning. I loaded 5 year old, Sebastian, in the car, picked up my mom and sister, and we were off. We arrived at the Girl Scout store and we walked the longer hallway to the back of the building to the store. I crossed the room over to the drawers holding the badges. My cell phone rang and I saw it was our friend, Dave. I thought it was strange that he was calling me because that was not typical. When I heard his voice, I knew something was wrong. He told me that I needed to come home right away - that "people" were at my house. I asked him WHO the people were. He asked them if he could tell me. He repeated himself just saying I needed to come home because "people" were at my house. I was getting louder as I demanded that he tell me who was at my house. I startled a woman in the store. I remember seeing her ask my mom if I was okay. I started to walk from the back of that longer hallway towards the entrance to the building. As I walked, I was figuring it out. People. Who would be at my house? Why wouldn't he tell me who the people were? I walked out the door and I rounded a flowerbed with a bench. I sat down on the bench because I was sure I was going to pass out. I looked up at my mom and I said, "Timmy is dead." I don't remember what she said. I told her that the people were soldiers. I knew they were soldiers. The Army sends soldiers only when somebody has died. I got in the van and I began dialing his phone number over and over. It would ring and ring and ring and go to voicemail. ANSWER THE GOD DAMN PHONE!!! Please, God, let him answer his phone. I called my friend, Sam. Savannah was staying with her daughter. I asked her if Savannah was okay. She said that she was just fine. I hung up and I dialed Tim's phone. He had just gotten to the Sportsman Warehouse. I told him something was wrong with Timmy and he needed to go home! I screamed at him. Just GO HOME! It is Timmy! Something is wrong! Please, just go home! I dialed Timmy's number I don't know how many more times. I just kept dialing it. I was trying not to cry. I kept thinking that he was just sleeping. It was Saturday morning in Alaska. He was out late... the time difference... his day to sleep in. He was hung over. Anything, but please, God, let him be okay. I pulled into our neighborhood and we have a giant hill that leads down to our house. As I drove down to the house, I begged God to let this be some sort of mistake. I pulled into my driveway and there they stood - two soldiers waiting for me.
I opened my van door and I screamed, "Please tell me he is okay!" One said, "I am sorry, ma'am. He isn't. On behalf of the United States Government, blah, blah, blah, we are sorry to inform you, blah, blah, blah. I screamed. I hit my steering wheel. I yelled, "His stupid car! I knew he shouldn't have gotten the car!" Tim came to my door and he told me that he wasn't driving. He wasn't driving! It wasn't his new car that killed him. Some girl was driving. I was so confused. My mind went black. I felt like I was dying. I was certainly going to die. This pain - dear God - I will die. I will die right this minute because my baby is dead. Please, God, please don't let this be true. I stepped out of my shoes and I tried to walk, but I just sat down on the floor of my van. I couldn't move. My mom was crying. My sister went running down the street screaming. And where was my little boy. Where was Sebastian? He saw all of this and I didn't protect him. Somebody took him to Dave and Laurie's. I cried and I rocked and I remember telling Tim's brother that I never should have left Florida. If I had stayed he would have never joined the Army. He would be in Florida. I told him I could not live through losing another person. I could NOT do this AGAIN! Dear God, he is my baby! He is my baby!
Tim was gone in his room I guess. He was as lost as me. My mom tells me she got me to walk in the house. I remember sitting on the couch. I remember seeing black. Everything was going black. I now think back and wonder if a part of my brain didn't shatter in those moments. I was in total shock. I don't know how long I sat on the couch. The soldier told me another soldier would be coming soon. I don't know what I said or if I said anything. I called Sam and told her that I was coming to get Savannah. I told her what happened. She said they would bring her home right away. More black. My mind was in complete darkness. I went to Tim. He was crying. I was crying. I couldn't help him. I couldn't see him crying. If he was crying, this was real. This could not be real. I called people. Who I called first, I don't remember. I know I talked to either my niece Tabitha or Jo, but I don't remember who first. I think it was Jo, but it kept going black. My brother called me. I am not close to my brother, but he knew and loved Timmy. He doesn't know these kids, but he was always there for Timmy. I kept screaming at him, "It's Timmy! It's Timmy!" He cried with me. I talked to my best friend, Jorgena. I don't remember what I said. I just needed to hear her voice. And then my baby girl came home. And I had to do one of the hardest things I have ever done - tell my 11 year old sweet girl. I took her into my room and I sat her on my bed. I hugged her and I told her that Timmy had been killed in a car accident. Dear God, please let me die in this moment. My poor sweet little girl should not have to endure this.
I don't know how much time has passed. I suddenly realize Sebastian is still not here. I tell all the people that I am going to get him. Somebody says they will bring him home. He comes in and he goes in his room and starts kicking the wall as hard as he can. He is crying and kicking the wall. I can't tell him not to kick the wall. Because he is 5 years old and he just saw his mom lose her mind and he heard his brother was dead from a soldier standing in the freaking driveway. Of course he is kicking the wall and crying! He is 5 years old! What the hell is he supposed to do? My poor sweet boy. Why!!!!! Why does he have to endure this?
Sgt. Fetters comes in and sits down at the table. He is dressed in Class A's and very professional. He is kind. This is a crappy job and nobody wants to sit with parents that just found out their baby is dead. He starts talking and all I hear is blah, blah, blah. I still don't really know what happened. I only know it was a car and a semi and head on. He doesn't really know much more than that. I don't know who the girl was. She died too. I don't know why he was with her. I don't know anything accept that I want to die. He keeps it pretty short and he says he will be back tomorrow.
I don't know where the rest of the day or evening went. I am certain that my brain shutdown because the pain was more than I could take. I woke up the next morning and I went outside. I cried a sound I have never made. I have heard of the deep, guttural cries that do not happen often. In the weeks and months that would follow, that sound, that cry, it would escape me and I would wonder if I would ever survive. I went back into my bed and Tim woke up. He sat up and then fell on me sobbing. NO!!!!! He doesn't cry like this!!!! This can't be true! If he is sobbing, this is true. It is not in my head. It is real. No! No! No! He is my baby, God! He is my baby!
Sgt. Fetters comes back. He has more papers and more stuff and more blah, blah, blah. We are transferring money. Does he know that I was so stressed over bills and two mortgages and a house in Florida that won't sell and now he sits here and he tells me about money! I don't want the DAMN money! Take your money and give me my baby back! Get out of my house! Stop talking! Do not say another word! And then he says they are flying Timmy here to SC as soon as they can. Wait. I need to tell him. I need to tell him that Timmy hates SC. He doesn't belong here. He needs to go home. Please take him home. Please take him to Florida. That is his home. Not here. He was never supposed to be here. I should have never came here. Why did I move him here. He would be alive if I had stayed put. Sgt. Fetters is so kind. He tells me that they will take him home and they will get us to Florida. I tell him that we will drive. I am an idiot. My mind is in pieces and I am telling him that I am going to get in the van and drive to Florida. He tells me that the Army will take good care of my son and get us to Florida. And then he tells us that we have to make a decision. He raises his right hand and he covers his eye and forehead. He tells us his injuries are bad and if we want to see him, they will need to try to fix him. He says even with that, they will need to cover his head. Tim lays his head on the dining room table and cries. I am going to die at this table next to my husband who is going to die with me. We are going to die right now. Our sweet baby. God, he is our baby! Sgt. Fetters tells us that it really is best that we do not see him, but it is always our right. We choose not to see him. I will spend forever wondering if I was a coward. If I made the right choice. I don't know what the answer is. There is lots more talk and the Army does everything. They take care of their fallen soldier. And we wait. We wait 9 days to travel to Florida.
And it is only the beginning of this journey. It is a plane ride and a limo and a funeral and so many people that love him. Kind and loving and amazing people that did everything because I could do nothing. I have thought about writing this for 5 years and I never did because my blog is about Crazy Everyday Blessings. I didn't want to turn my blog into a grief blog. I didn't want it to be a place of sadness. I can write this now because while it will always cut me with its sharpness, I can now look back and see the blessings in it. I still cry out to God that he is my baby. God knows and hears me when I rock back and forth and the only words I can manage in my tears are, "He's my baby, God... he's my baby." I can see where people loved us. They took care of us. To this day, they are still there. They still speak his name and honor him. He died too young. He was 21 and full of life, but in his short life, he loved people. He made an impact and I saw that then and I continue to see it now. My kids - they have been though hell - and yet they fight. They fight to survive it. I didn't think I would live that day. I kept thinking that I was going to die, but I lived. And I saw that I have two kids here that need me. They need me to stay present and actively seeking out joy. They deserve a happy life and more. So, I can write about it now. I won't lie and tell you it is easy. I had to take xanax to just get through writing this. It is not easy. I don't think it will ever be easy. But I believe the key to peace is to accept life as it is rather than what I think it should be. Some days, I fight peace. I fight acceptance of what is! But other days, I am able to accept and I am able to find joy again. He will always be my baby. I will see him again. I just have to wait.