|Savannah International Airport after R&R July 2005|
September 11 at 11:56 AM
Where to begin today? Another 9-11 has come and gone. I woke up not in full awareness of what today was, felt emotional and a bit depressed. Maybe PMS? Maybe feeling overwhelmed? Then I logged onto Facebook at 8:40AM and my memory was immediately jogged. Tears flooded down my cheeks. Eleven years ago, I sat with Granny Smith in her living room as we watched the tragic events unfold.
Likely, you remember exactly where you were too. Yes, I like countless others remember but my sadness, grief, and recollections are not all for those that perished on September 11, 2001.
Last September marked a pivotal decline and downward spiral in my husband's health. All of this was a very long chain reaction leading back to the events of 9-11.
On September 11, 2001, John was doing practice jumps at Ft. Benning and would soon deploy with the 1-75 Ranger Battalion. He had three deployments with them before I met him. In 2002, John sustained injuries that led to his move to 3-69 Armor at the 3rd Infantry Division, where he deployed on his final 12 month mission that began only one month after our wedding in 2004. It was in this final deployment that John would be in an explosion. His Bradley fighting vehicle was hit with an IED destroying the vehicle and cracking his helmet, breaking a finger or two, cracking some teeth, and resulting in a quick but not long lasting medical evacuation.
All of this was unknown to me until after John came home, had been honorably discharged, and received his Purple Heart award in the mail. It was then that I saw these events described while he sunk back, never intending to tell me he had been hurt.
We struggled through a few years of symptoms and refusal to seek help from the VA because John was proud and thought, "others deserve it more." It wasn't until his headaches and mood became so debilitating that he agreed to seek medical attention.
Since last September, we've had a myriad of awful days and horrific symptoms ranging from seizures and inability to talk and move to frustration, depression, anxiety, and more than most could ever imagine. Today 9-11 hits me harder in the chest than ever. The "aftermath" has attacked us as individuals and as a family. It has tried to destroy and tear down who we are.
I truly grieve today for John and those other countless men and women who return home with both physical and mental limitations. My heart aches for those that can't stand to go to a restaurant or sports event because of the fear of the crowd. My heart breaks when I think that going to church is a huge struggle because of a man or woman's fear of getting out, fear of being close to people because he or she is not comfortable with them, or terror that he can't see what's going on behind him. Heaven forbid someone wear a scarf and the veteran imagine and hallucinate or flashback to a place where someone with a head covering exploded in an effort, possibly successful, to kill.
I grieve for that loss of so called "normalcy." Normal for us, is not "normal" any more but we've adapted. We learn to cope and we pick up and carry on.
Sometimes we get mad, sometimes we yell, and sometimes we cry.
Maybe we would have made more progress if we weren't stubborn and had asked for help sooner. Maybe we'd feel more rested and less stressed if we weren't so proud to allow others to do more. Those are lessons we've been learning and they are not easy for a proud vet or an independent person.
Yes, I am thankful for very much in life. Thankful for better days, appreciative of the little things, yet very much sorrowful for losing any concept of what's expected. Not knowing what tomorrow holds of what kind of day it will be, yet mustering up enough faith to handle it with grace...hopefully. We've learned to let others help. Learned it is ok not to get it all done, learned to carry on when everything feels hopeless.
Will today be as good as yesterday? Will John be able to go to a soccer game, yet it take so much energy that he stumbles to his chair after coming home, sinking into it unable to utter any coherent speech? Will he have seizures and nosebleeds, not even being consciously aware that he has dried blood traveling from his nose to his neck and chest? Will he need help drinking a glass of water? Will he be able to get out of bed?
Will he be in a great mood and decide he feels "fine" enough to get up and meet the world or get up and have too much anxiety to even eat at the dinner table with our two boys?
John says I should write a book and that would mean a lot of this kind of disclosure, daily life, routines, and exposing life as we know it. These, however, are just a few of my many thoughts and emotions today. It doesn't mean that I'm depressed or need meds or want someone to step up and do something. It means I've shared my conscious awareness with you today in hopes that you are more aware, enlightened, thankful, and remember not just the casualties that fell with the Twin Towers, but you remember and pray for the wounded, broken and forever changed: the servicemen and women, the veterans, the law enforcement, firefighters, the families and the caregivers. May God bless us all. -Amanda