Tuesday, May 29, 2007

A Memorial Day thank you

To our service men and women and, especially, to their families. This is a chapter of a book I once wrote, and the actual e-mail I sent my husband. I still can't read it without crying, and I send my thoughts and prayers to you all. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts.

E-MAIL TO THE FRONT: One Wife’s Correspondence with her Husband Overseas
Copyright 2003 by Alesia Holliday
Andrews McMeel Publishing

Chapter 36

CNN Breaking News Usually Sucks

January 2002
To: Alesia

CNN BREAKING NEWS BULLETIN
U.S. plane down in Indian Ocean. No details available.


To: Judd
From: Alesia

Subject: Today I thought you died.
For an hour today, I didn’t know if your plane had gone
down in the ocean.
For an hour, I frantically searched the Internet for
further news of who/what/when.
For an hour, I alternated between praying and crying –
between hope and despair.
For an hour, I wondered how to tell Connor and Lauren that
Daddy was never coming home.
For an hour, I regretted every harsh word we’ve ever spoken
to each other, and wanted to yell at you for leaving me.
For an hour, I wanted to hold you, kiss you, and punch you
in the nose for putting me through this.
For an hour today, I watched my world crumple.
I love you so much, and I’m so glad you’re safe. If you
die, I’m going to kill you. Don’t ever put me through another
hour like this one.

I love you,
Alesia


---

We have the unique privilege these days of being able to see news events live. This is a
privilege that, some days, I’d be glad to live without. When you turn on the television or get a
breaking news bulletin beamed to your wireless e-mail, you can instantly learn that a plane has
gone down, or that a member of the U.S. military has died.

But it takes a lot longer to find out
which plane has gone down. Or who has died.

That space in between – the black and terrifying limbo until more details emerge – is the
cruelest hurt inflicted on military spouses. First, the feeling like I’ve been gut-punched. What
plane? I know he was headed for patrols over the Indian Ocean. Is he there now? What plane
was it? Why don’t they give us all the news instead of doling out these flashes?

Then, searching the ‘net like a madwoman. CNN, the New York Times, somebody
somewhere has to know what plane it is.

Next, the phone calls begin. All the friends and family who know that he might be out
there. That it might be his plane. Is he OK? Is it Judd’s plane? Where’s Judd? What’s going
on? What plane was it?

As though they believe I have a secret satellite link or psychic connection to the
information even CNN doesn’t yet know. It gets harder and harder to stay calm on the phone.


A hurried trip to the bathroom. I’m either going to cry or vomit, and I don’t want my
colleagues to see either. He might be dead. What would we do without him? What do I tell my
kids? Splash water on my face and go back to the computer to search for any new word.

Then, finally, the knowledge starts to trickle in. CNN breaks some more news. The CO
gets a message to his wife, or to the squadron/spouse liaison, and the e-mail chain is activated.

It’s not Judd’s plane. It was another plane. The Search and Rescue team picked the crew up,
safe and unharmed. A fervent prayer of thanks for my family, and for the families of the crew
members who were in that downed plane.

Back to work. Phone calls have to be returned. Documents have to be reviewed.
Nobody knows that I just lived through an eternity in the space of an hour.

1 comment:

Stacy L. said...

I'm always amazed at the strength found within military families. And every morning when I'm on my treadmill watching the Today Show I hear about another family who has lost a wife, a sister, a son, a daughter, a father, a brother....and my heart aches. There are so many things we take for granted everyday. Don't let it EVER be our military personnel or their families. They put their lives on the line everyday so the rest of us can enjoy the freedoms of being an American.

Alyssa - Thank you for sharing your letter and reminding us all what Memorial Day is really all about.

Stacy L.