Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The long drive home...

We left Texas and drove to Louisiana for Sev's memorial service on Wednesday of last week. It was -wonderful- to see all of my family...wonderful and sad.

On Wednesday, shortly after arriving at the hotel, we found out that Sean's best friend had been killed in Afghanistan that day. I just stood there thinking, "how much can he take??" I was just at a loss for words when I finally saw Sean later that evening. He was sitting in the hotel bar with what I assume were some other military friends. They were visibly upset. I just hugged him and told him I was just so sorry. I can not imagine what was going thru his mind, his heart, his subconscious.....guilt, anger, sadness? I just don't know. As for me, I was settling in on Anger.

Anger is probably not a good choice for the situation, but that is what I picked. I was angry at the coward that blew up Sev's jeep. Angry that we were having to fight this fight. Angry that it started in 2001 and it is 8 years later and we are still fighting. Angry enough to consider enlisting just to go kick someone's ass....ANYONE's Ass! Ridiculous, I know. I'm 39 years old, 5'2", abhor exercise, and just had enlisting is anywhere near the realm of Rational!!! Someone just needs to slap me for even thinking it....but I guess the point is, I wasn't thinking....rationally, that is.

And for the record, I'm sure that technically it probably started before 2001. But I'm not hip to military history, so I'm just sticking with the 9/11 attack and going from there, okay? But if you feel the need to correct me, by all means, make yourself happy.

By Thursday, the day of the service, I had changed my mind on anger. I kept coming back to the fact that Sev was -born- to be a Soldier. He absolutely LOVED it. He was a true patriot. And besides, I don't think he would want me to would make us look like bad, militarily speaking ;-)

The service was extremely moving. Sev was the first of my grandmother's 20 grandchildren. Of the 19 remaining, 18 showed up for the service (my cousin Amy has an excuse, as she is in a permanent care facility). There was what I can only describe as a "sea of Army Green" everywhere you turned. The military turn out was very touching...Sev touched a lot of people.

The service started and ended with bagpipes. I was so proud of myself. I had managed to get the twins fed and asleep by the time the service started. That didn't last long! The bagpipes (three of them) started in the lobby and worked their way into the room. By the time they hit the door, F was crying and screaming and E was holding both ears and doing the same. Oh well for that plan. I took out F and Uncle Rock took him into the play room.

The chaplain was the same man that had married Sev and Tammy in January. He read Sev's vows. On one hand it was very sweet, on the other I thought it was cruel. Tammy later said that was unexpected, but that she has Sev's handwritten original of these vows. That she reads them anytime she wants to...but hearing them at the service got to her. Got to lots of us.

Andree's daughter wrote and read a poem. The Advocate paper of Baton Rouge mistakenly reported it as quote Shelby "stupid Advocate." Also military personnel honored Sev with words and actions (they marched in and saluted). At the end of the service, the bagpipes were back. They played Amazing Grace, and everybody cried....which is what you do when you hear Amazing Grace played on Bagpipes at a funeral. I found it surreal.

Back to the hotel, a change of clothes and then off to my cousin Kitzia's house for chili....which, for the record, was REALLY good! My immediate family was there and the kids all played and had fun. Mom asked David to take a photo of us, and it is below. Good looking group, right?! At one point in the evening, Kitz turned to me and basically said, "Well, there are 19 of us left. We really need to try to get together again before another one of us dies." That hit home like a sledge hammer.

She is totally right! We are all spread out and enjoying our lives and our kids, but rarely get to see cousins and aunts and uncles. She said she was going to start working on something, and I volunteered to help out with whatever to make it "Major Family", consider yourself on notice! :)

Friday, we stopped by New Roads on the way out of town to visit with Nanny and for lunch. I have some really cute pictures of her with the twins and E. Four generations of us with Pa sitting on one couch! Pretty Cool! The kids had fun posing with a fake crocodile in the restaurant. We also got to meet my Cousin Liz's kids. Cutie Pies! The baby, Aimee, actually liked the hubby....Liz laughed and said that was rare, that she generally doesn't like people! HA! He has that effect on babies!

Then we left for home...

I had managed to keep myself 'busy' since my last post by organizing/planning for my entire immediate family to arrive in Baton Rouge in time for the service and then return to their respective states. I also forwarded emails that I received from various people (most of which I did not know, but had contacted me due to my post). I helped out a little bit with passing on info and whatnot. Basically, after I posted on Aug 3rd, I put my emotions on "Hold" and put them in a box on a shelf. I discovered that if I started to fall apart, E would get very concerned and come over and start asking 'what's wrong Mama?'

I left them there until Aug 14th.....two weeks. I really never let 'it all out'....until the drive home. With each mile that passed, with every mile driven, I became more and more upset. It was finally sinking in....I was driving, the hubby was reading a book, the kids were sleeping, and the radio was playing various songs, all of which I pulled sad meaning out of....gradually, I just started to cry, quietly. I usually look forward to the 'Welcome to Texas' sign, but this time I just dreaded it. It would just make it so...Final. So real. The tears just kept flowing. There was no wailing or sobbing loudly, but instead quiet reflection of the previous two weeks and everything that had happened.

For one of the rare moments in my life, I had nothing to say. I would stop and start crying for the next 3 days. In fact on Saturday, I just really didn't even want to get out of bed. The hubby held down the fort for me while I just processed all of it.

On Tuesday, Aug 18th, Fort Bragg held a service for Sev. My cousin Sean put it like this:
"When you play bag pipes, followed by roll call, taps and a 21 gun salute and the ballad of the green berets . . . well if you don't cry you have no soul . . . even if you didn't know the person being remembered."

I must plead my ignorance at this point, I had to look up what a 'roll call' means at a military funeral. Yesterday, my Aunt Charlene called and said that it was very hard to listen to. I cried again.

I am -really- tired of all of this crazy emotional roller coaster action going on in my life. I've gotten to where I really focus whenever the news says anything about Afghanistan or Iraq.

That part is probably good. We should all try to focus and pray for our military on a daily basis.

I wanted to let all of you know that SFC Severin W.Summers,III , 2/20 SFG will be buried in Arlington National Cemetery on August 31st at 10:00am. If you are in the area, please stop by and show your respects to a fallen hero.

The hubby and I are talking about trying to make a road trip in a few years, and take the kids to the D.C. area for a week or so and show them all of the monuments and museums....and we will check out Sev's grassy view. And remember with a smile, all those off color jokes!

Love to all,

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