This is an important day in our family. Not as important as things like Christmas or birthdays, but December 4th is a day of remembrance.
During the fall and early winter of 2006 we lived with my aunt. My parents divorce had gone through, mom finally sold the house but hadn’t found a place to live yet. We were lucky that my aunt took us in for some time until mom could find a place. In my aunts house was my mom, my aunt, her roommate, my pregnant sister and me. My sister was married to a marine who was deployed in Iraq so she came home earlier in the fall, maybe late summer, so she wouldn’t be alone in North Carolina.
On the night of December 4th, I was upstairs in the extra bedroom (they let me sleep in it instead of my sister who I thought should have had it. She slept on an air mattress downstairs) that had a computer in it. At about 11:00 she came storming up the stairs, threw the door open and turned on the lights. I made some joking comment about being rude and waking me up but she said, and I’ll never forget this, “You don’t even know what’s going on.” She explained to me that some marines had come by our old house. The marines didn’t have our aunts address and that was our last known location. The people who bought the house called our realtor, who was a family friend of one of my sisters friends. We only lived a few miles away from my sisters husbands family, so Ally called him who managed to get the marines to my aunts house. Ally was on the computer looking up to see if Toms name was mentioned at all.
It was about 3:00 in the morning and I heard a knock at the door. I hadn’t gone back to sleep, my mind was racing with questions and possibilities. I went downstairs in my pajamas, and saw the marines talking to my sister. They told her the worst. Tom was shot and killed in combat in Iraq. My sister was 5 months pregnant with his baby, and he was the love of her life. It was obvious to everyone around. She was only 21 at the time. I am 21 today I can’t imagine going through a loss like that. I remember her squeals. Her outbursts of tears and screams. I wanted to comfort her but there was only so much I could do.
I remember when our older sister, Elaine got there. The way they hugged each other, crying. There is a special bond between sisters and I will never forget them holding each other for what seemed like hours, crying, bawling, Ally screaming in agony at the loss of husband.
By 7:00 my aunts living room was full. Many of my family had been called and came immediately. Like I said, Toms family lived maybe a mile a way so many of them where there as well. Ally shared stories of Tom. Things they had done, places they had gone, letters he wrote. She wrote him every night before bed, and while he couldn’t do that he did write often. It was weird after he died. It took two weeks for mail to get there or here from there. So she was still getting mail for a week and a half after he died.
It took time for the body to get back home. At the visitation site Ally never left the casket. She hardly ever stepped away from it. When they lived in North Carolina together they had made a lot of good friends and they all came up for the funeral. They acted so strong when Ally was around. But I had to go out to my moms car once and they were outside crying too. They had lost a great friend and another great friend had no idea what life was anymore. It struck me how many people a death can affect.
On the day of the funeral, I will never forget pulling into the church. There was a firetruck with the basket extended all the way holding down the biggest and most beautiful American flag I had ever seen. The Freedom Riders were there. They were a group who kept protestors like the Westborrow Baptist from coming and disrupting the funeral. The church was huge. There were so many people inside. I remember Alex, Toms brother, got up to talk. Holding back tears he told how he felt a little responsible because he was a marine first and Tom wanted to be like his brother. Some of Tom’s war buddies got up and told some of the things he had done.
It was the first military funeral I went to, and at the burial site again I was shocked. Taps was played. The twenty-one gun salute was given. There were so many tears.
I didn’t know Tom well. I was still young. But I do remember his unselfishness and his great attitude. My sister is the strongest woman I know. She has gone through more already than most people will go through in a life time.
a guy i know was dating this girl called kate and on their two year anniversary they like went for a picnic and it was super cute and romantic but his friends thought itd be funny to prank him by hiring a skywriter to write ‘will you marry me kate?’ in the sky and so they did and she saw it and he thought it’d be too awkward to say it actually wasnt for her so he didnt say anything and now theyre married and he still hasnt told her