Describe your first pregnancy…piece of cake or terrible experience?
[edit: warning to say, man this got long. sorry! i didn't plan for that, but i never really told my whole getting-pregnant-pregnancy-birth-story before, and it became therapeutic. now i'm glad it's there to share with little man one day. continue on if you want to read a slightly oversharing mini book :)]
Oh, pregnancy. You were one of the most wonderful seasons of my life and I remember you fondly. Truth be told, I often long to experience you again and sometimes get angry that The Hubs won’t get the chance to. But I am so thankful we got to experience you once.
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For the most part, I’ve kept my mouth shut about the Shutdown. I dislike politics, and dislike talking about them even more. This doesn’t mean I don’t have my opinions, it just means I’d rather keep them to myself and observe until my voice is needed. And today, I couldn’t keep quiet any longer.
There are many things about this Shutdown that upset me, but today I was downright stricken. The latest impact of the Shutdown has left me disgusted, appalled, and frankly ashamed of our leadership: families of fallen service members are being denied death benefits. I can’t even fathom this, can’t comprehend the logic of how our government can expect it’s military to continue fighting and then disregard their death so flippantly.
So today I am speaking up, and I am asking you to as well. I have written to my Senators, my Congressman, to the White House directly. I urge you to please do as well: here is information for members of Congress and the White House. Share this information with others. Consider donating to the Fisher House, who is so graciously attempting to help offset these costs for families. Say a prayer for these families, for our military, and for the leadership of our country.
This is the letter I wrote today. Congress, I know I’m just a single drop in the sea of voices, but I hope one of you actually reads my words. And I hope they make you think.
‘Appalled’ does even begin to describe the visceral reaction I felt this morning upon learning of the discontinuation of the Death Gratuity benefit for families of fallen service members. As a Gold Star military widow, I know firsthand just how devastating this cessation will be to families already enduring a horrible tragedy. To deny these surviving families of crucial funds designed to assist them in the most debilitating hours of loss is the most revolting effect of the Shutdown yet.
Are you aware of exactly what these families will lose when the Death Gratuity benefit is denied them? They lose the funds necessary to travel to Dover, Delaware to greet the body of their fallen husband, wife, son, daughter, father, or mother as he or she touches down on American soil for the first time after dying for our country. They lose the funds for funeral costs and other expenses necessary to give their loved one the hero’s farewell he or she deserves. They lose the funds needed to pay bills, purchase groceries, and complete the life-sustaining tasks that are no longer supported by the service member’s income. They lose the slight bit of comfort that should have been afforded to them, allowing them to breathe knowing they can take care of their family while grieving. But perhaps, most of all, these families denied benefits guaranteed to their service member before his or her death are going to lose faith in the very country their hero just died for.
I urge you to stand up for the men and women who have given their life for you, for me, and for our country. I urge you to do what is right for their families. Reinstate the Death Gratuity Benefit as quickly as possible. In addition, please take a moment to reach out to the families affected and offer your sincere apologies. I can guarantee that this experience has intensified their already agonizing wounds, but perhaps your sincere words of regret, supported by your actions, can help begin the long journey of healing.
Update edit – While the House unanimously passed a bill today to restore death benefits, it has yet to pass Senate. But meanwhile, the Pentagon has made a deal with Fisher House for full restoration of benefits to the families with the DoD to reimburse the charity after the Shutdown.
This evening I am proud to host a message written for you by my beautiful friend, Brenda. I met Brenda online several years ago, and then in person at Camp Widow shortly after. We instantly bonded over shared loss, shared interests, and similar personalities. Brenda is an amazing soul, one of those people who you know has entered your life for a reason and will never leave. Brenda is also a writer, and she has recently completed a memoir detailing her story with her love, Kevin. But she needs our help to publish it. In her words:
I wanted a good story. I always have enjoyed writing, but I could never seem to develop the characters the way I wanted. They lacked depth, and eventually the boredom of them would cause me to stop writing 20 pages in. Nothing could keep my attention. But just weeks after my husband died, I had a story, and it flowed out my fingertips at the same rate the tears flowed down my cheeks.
Looking back on the beginning of our family blog, I regretted spending so much damn time on that computer while Kevin lay feet away from me in those sterile hospital rooms. Sometimes he wanted my attention, and I was busy sharing what was left of our lives with strangers somewhere outside of the hospital walls. I was desperate to connect with them, to feel connected somewhere. I was climbing those walls in my brain, wondering how long those rooms would feel like a shelter, and when they would begin to feel like a prison of disease. But he understood, and one day, he told me to share our story with the world. On a day he was very, very ill, and I could tell. On a day that I wondered why he told me to write this. I only realized after he died, a few months later, that it was the same reason why he insisted I learn how to tie a proper fishing knot and bait my own hook. I was insistent that he do it, but he refused. He knew. I refused to believe. And then…
It’s 4.75 years later and here I am. First draft written. Several chapters edited. Kickstarter launched. And I wonder what the hold up will be this time. Suddenly this file I have created of over 100,000 words is waiting on something else besides the author. It’s waiting on the money so it can finally go through a proper edit, to be formatted and set into a published book. To be downloaded, and to be bound, to be held and read by people who may be bored, who may laugh, who may not understand, and who will ultimately have to face the bitterness of a book that doesn’t end on an upbeat note. I’m really selling this thing, aren’t I?
Erin knows, and I know, that life isn’t this package we dreamt up. If it was, Kevin wouldn’t have died, and even if still had in this “package”, the book would have been written and picked up on a book deal years ago. Packages don’t exist, but life is very much palpable. My story is a love and loss memoir, written by someone under 30. I let my age discount a lot of what I know about life, and I swear, I’m trying to stop doing that. I want to stop denying the fact that yes, I faced a really horrid experience nearly 5 years ago, and yes, it vastly changed me. With this book being released into the world, I have no choice but to say, yes, a woman wrote this and lived this and wasn’t even 30. In fact, when this journey began I was 24. Twenty fuckin’ four (sometimes you just need that expletive to feel better).
I’m a little angry, and a little proud, that I wrote it. I can’t say it will go anywhere – I may raise all the funds necessary to bring this book to print, and no one may buy it, read it, review it or care. But I’ll have finally had a chance to have a story, to share it as I promised to Kevin, and to maybe have the guts to work on the second book (yep, already thinking of that one…).
Some truly amazing things have happened in my life because Kevin left it. There’s no package here, there’s just life, and when you allow life to happen, you find exceptional gifts that you didn’t even know were available. When I met Kevin, I felt the same way. In my mind, I had a package of the perfect guy for me, and he came into my life, and he brought so much more into it that I hadn’t even desired. And just like life, I can dream up so many wonderful things, but when I think about everything I’ve had in my life, it’s been an even more beautiful creation. I won’t discount it with his loss.
I’m going to feel the pulse of life, and I hope that I can give some of that pulse to my readers in this memoir. I would love your support – sharing with friends and family, or even a $1 pledge. There’s some great rewards, but mostly, I think this story has the potential to give others some heart – and we could all use some of that.
I’d love it if you could take a moment to cheer Brenda on as she shares her incredible story of life and love. Stop by her blog, send her a tweet, leave her a comment below, share her story with others — and if at at all possible, please consider donating to her Kickstarter campaign. Every little bit helps Brenda reach her goal so that she can publish her story. Because a great love story deserves to be told.
I am currently pulling out boxes from the garage and scouring closets for pictures to be used in the documentary. I’m gathering photos from my childhood and teen years, as many child/teen photos of The Hubs and I together as I can find, and significant photos of our life together from more recent years. Man, it is a tall order to try to summarize your life in a limited number of pictures, and an even taller one to confront photos you’ve not looked at for many, many years.
I’ve found myself laughing a lot tonight, tearing up a few times….but mostly smiling, my heart swelling as I recall happier times and sweet memories and crazy moments — all of the abundant adventures and blessings I’ve been bestowed.
I found so many photos that made me say “Oh yeah!!” with surprise, plenty that made me say “Oh sweet baby Jesus” with a cringe, and a lot that brought a “WOW!” …as well as a few that I didn’t remember at all. (I also found 6 rolls of 35mm film circa 2003/04…dare I develop them?!) I am so glad I have taken the time to start scanning in these important memories. It’s going to take a long time to complete, but it’s a start. Pictures are so, so important. If you currently don’t take many photos of your loved ones, I urge you to start. And if you do but haven’t backed them up recently, I encourage you to. One day those photos may become way more valuable than you could imagine. (This hit me hard in this post after losing The Hubs, and it still rings true.)
Since there is no way to share them all here, here is a completely random selection of a few throwback pics, not in any particular order. I’ll share more as I keep scanning them in!
1 — Baby me! 3 months old, circa 1984.
2 — Slightly bigger baby me! 16 months old, 1985.
3 — Senior Prom, 18 yrs old, 2002. (Can I have this body back, please?)
4 — Awwww. Our ‘dating’ days (that lasted all of two months before we got engaged). 19 yrs old, 2003.
5 — The Hubs and I (and friends), Senior year of HS. 17 yrs old, 2002.
6 — One of my portfolio pics, 17 yrs old, 2001.
7 — The Hubs, me, and my bestie A. Senior year of HS, 17 yrs old, 2002.
8 — The Hubs basic training graduation, 18 yrs old, 2002.
Well folks, the preview trailer for my side of the documentary is live! It’s a strange experience to hear your story from the outside and see yourself on camera (hello extra 10 lbs and quivering ‘holding back tears’ face), but I couldn’t be happier with how it came out. Tristan is amazing and he did a really wonderful job introducing me, Bryan, and our/my story that will be told in The Silent Warriors. We still have plenty of filming to do, on my side of the film as well as the Afghan side (you can see the trailer for the Afghan protagonist, Fawzia Koofi, here), and I can’t wait to see how the finished film comes together. You can watch the trailer below, or on Dedal Films.
Warriors “Erin” from DEDAL FILMS on Vimeo.
Also, we have a winner from the blogiversary giveaway!
Congratulations comment #9, Laine! Please send me an email using the contact button on the left and let me know your choice of gift card and where to send it. Enjoy! :)
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