photo taken by SSgt Francisco Tataje

With Veterans Day now only two days away, I wanted to post this diary entry as a reminder of the reality of the veteran life. 

11 October 2005 Journal Entry:
On the way to work this morning, all of a sudden I had a terrible feeling about Theresa sweep over me.  Then, when I got to work, I had an email from her telling me that Matt Hendricks was wounded! L  I got the rest of the details from Greg McSween and then Kate.  It’s just terrible! L  He would be dead if this was Vietnam.  He is already on his way to Bethesda tomorrow.  I am so upset about this.  I just can’t imagine how upset Kate and her family must be! L

I am very upset about Matty Hendricks and worried to death about Theresa, Bryan, and my Matt H (on his way).  The reality of this war is blaring in my face right now (also with DJ’s near death mishap last week) and I miss my family and friends.

Oh, and this is Matt’s and my two year non-anniversary anniversary. 

Been a weird day L

If you’ve been reading along, you’ll recall that Matt Hendricks, his sister Kate (one of my best friends from college), and I all had lunch together in the chow hall at TQ only a month before.  We three sat, face to face, and smiled about being where we were.  We’d all had long roads there for different reasons, Kate was on her way out, and Matt and I were on our way in, and all three were proud to serve.  When someone you know is wounded or killed, you’re not any less proud to serve, but it makes things sting a little bit, I think.  I immediately wanted to call and email everyone I loved and tell them so; I wanted to reconcile with ex’s and apologize to family.  I wanted to grab a hold of everything I could that meant something and hold it till my knuckles were white.  I asked questions like “What if that had been Theresa?” or “What if that had been Matt?”  I made mental notes like “Life is short” or “You could die tomorrow” that have stayed with me today.  I’m not a shell-shocked vet; but I was close enough to it all to make it real, and to make me really appreciate every day I have on this earth.  For some people, an unexpected car wreck and subsequent loss of a loved one jolts these thoughts into your heart; for most of my friends, it was the rumble of an IED or the impact of an RGP that did so.

There was another reason that day carried extra weight for me.  October 11th, 2003 I got married.  Exactly one year later, I was divorced.  A year from that day, I was in Iraq contemplating death. 

Many deaths are caused by war – both physical and emotional.   Marriages die from deployments, friendships crumble from catastrophe, and futures that were planned get blown up and changed by limb-tearing injuries.  I think because of the premonition-type feeling I had that morning about Theresa, the news hit me with even more force than it would have otherwise…and I began to fear my gut when I had such feelings about other people I knew.

 *Note: “my Matt/Matt H” mentioned in previous journal blog entries is not the same Matt as Matt Hendricks/Matty.