Saturday, January 21

The week that pained our hearts.

It was Monday morning. We barely cracked the door to our home a handful of hours prior, thanks to a slight delay from Dulles to LAX. But we scrounged for dinner and then crawled into bed. Our bed. That set of sheets and comforter, with an extra blanket on my side for warmth, that would allow us a re-coop from our long weekend of travels. We were exhausted, but exhilarated to be home and able to sleep in on a holiday.

The sun rose later, breaking through the clouds and streaming into the bedroom. I didn't want to acknowledge it - but it was there. Like an unfortunate and unwanted 'good morning, Mrs. Wookie' even though it didn't make me coffee. I laid there quietly hoping sleep would drift me under again for a few more hours of rest and relaxation.

But it didn't. The sun streamed steadily through the half-moon window informing me that it's beyond late and that I needed to rise for the day. The house needed cleaning, laundry was piling up thanks to our suitcase, the dog needed to be fetched from the boarding hotel, and today was the day to recharge after skipping across country and back.

So out of bed I crawled, fumbling for my phone that had lost battery power mid-night, and scrounged for the wall charger. I made my way out to the kitchen when a voicemail popped through....

Wednesday evening was spent performing an unwanted task. The Service Dress Blues were removed from the closet and inspected closely. The LT JG insignia clearly displayed on the sleeves. Mr. Wookie had brought the new material home from the NEX for LT stripes. So with my sewing kit and the knowledge of a glass of wine in my future, I got to seam ripping and deconstructing. I didn't want to sew the new stripe on. I didn't. Because that meant it's real. And tomorrow is coming.

That night I put in the efforts to transform his SDB's into LT gear. With each step, he checked it to ensure accuracy and perfection. He was impressed and ever appreciative of my skills (this isn't the first time I've had to sew insignia on uniforms). Then with the final check, he swung one arm into the jacket and then the other. With soft fingers, he slowly buttoned up the jacket. One by one. He looked sharp. And crisp. And I started to cry again. I wasn't ready for this. I didn't want him to wear these. But we didn't have a choice....

That voicemail that popped through on my phone lingered in my ears as the message kept replaying subconsciously. I set down my phone and walked the eternal distance of 2 rooms to the bedroom. I didn't even make it without crying.

It was happening. Our friend, our squadronmate.....was succumbing to his long, arduous journey with cancer and wasn't expected to make it through the day. Tears streamed down my face. I couldn't help but fall into Mr. Wookie's arms expecting a mere hug to help solve my cries.

He went to his phone - unaware of the messages attempting to come across since both our phones ran out of battery sometime through the night - and saw the importance to this morning. The squadron was forming an expedited caravan to the hour-away hospital where our friend was clinging for life in his fight of the moment. With a quick kiss, Mr. Wookie was out the door. I then shlumped to the couch, sobbing, my heart breaking...

That day was so long - but so short.

I needed to take my mind off this moment. The pain, the heartache was overwhelming. So I went to my refuge. I crawled into the shower and cried some more. For once, I felt the intense guilt for not rushing off with Mr. Wookie to the hospital. I felt selfish. I felt sick. And the tears didn't stop. I felt my emotions would overshadow the emotions of those people that really matter - his family. I felt I would be more hinderance than help. My tears being not as worthy as his mother's. So I prayed our friend would forgive me for my choice. My tears mimicking like shower water.

And then somehow, I felt a sense that I was understood. My soul felt at ease.

So as I sat on the counter, wrapped up in robe and towel, trying to wrap my head around this morning.

It didn't work.

I walked back to my phone. A text was there. Unread.

Our friend, only 31 years old who fought an amazing battle of melanoma, lymph node removal, brain surgery, intense medications, and ever-aggressive cancer, had passed a mere ten minutes prior. The rushed caravan never made it to the hospital. The final goodbyes went silent. And just like that....our Monday morning was shattered.

Thursday at 3pm came. We parked the car outside the base church as I checked my purse for tissues. My heart raced as I stepped out of the Jeep. Each day had gotten a little easier since Monday, but the tears still formed. The disbelief that he was gone still hadn't set in. We made the 50 yard walk from the parking lot to the front door, the mere sight of military dress had me attempting to reign in my emotions. Sandwiches.... cobwebs..

With my arm linked in Mr. Wookie's, he stoically escorted me to my pew. My eyes welled with tears as the slideshow displayed our friend's great accomplishments, the camaraderie of the squadron, and just how great at life he was. He was something else. He lived life big. He fought a good fight. And his spark shined until the end.

The service was beautiful. There were tears. There were laughs. There were people from all over the country. Fellow Academy grads. His family. An outpouring of love from those currently deployed, who couldn't be there, and will instead hold memorials at sea for a sailor lost too young.  And there was the tale of his father's emotionality of remembering when his son was born, breathing in his first breath, and then 31 years later...holding his son's hand, consciousness fading, as the last breath was drew.

This week hasn't been easy. But each day is a little better.


  1. I am so sorry to hear about your friend. There is nothing easy about that situation. And, so young. It sounds like he had a very nice service. My heart is aching for all his family and friends.

  2. Damn it woman. Text me when you are going to write tear jerkers.
    I was expecting a funny sticker - not something to get my water works going again.

    Also, that was beautifully written. *hugs*

  3. Such a touching piece. My heart goes out to you and everyone else who is remembering a sailor gone too soon.

  4. I don't even know how to respond to your post. My heart goes out to everyone that knew and loved such a brave soul as your friend. Big Hug to you!!

  5. I have no words that will make you feel better but I am so sorry you are going through this. No one should have to lose a friend like that. My heart broke when I read this post. ((hugs))

  6. I am so sorry for your loss. My heart and prayers go out to you all. *hugs*

  7. I'm so sorry, sister. Praying for you and Wook.

  8. I'm so sorry to hear this. A very touching post and it sounds like a very powerful service.

  9. I am at work, sobbing after reading your post. It was beautifully written, despite the terribly sad subject. I am so sorry for your loss. :(

  10. I don't even know this person, but your words got me crying. My thoughts and prayers are with you, and everyone going through this. :/ Hang in there.