A Week Full of Sorrow: A Week of Remembrance

Every year, for the last 3 years I've taken this week for my vacation.  I don't go anywhere.  I call it a mental health break.  I volunteer at the United States Air Force Marathon during the weekend, but for the rest of the week its just to relax, heal, and let this week pass. 


This is the week my beloved brother died of Melanoma.  He was 30.  He left behind a son, then 2 and a much loved wife of only 4 years.  He was a Tech Sergeant in the Air Force, stationed in Las Vegas at the time of the onset of his illness.  He was transferred to Texas to receive treatment on base and at a Cancer Hospital in Houston.  He passed away in the Cancer Hospital 5 months after diagnosis on Sept. 13, 2009.  That was a Sunday.  My Godchild Savannah was born on Sept. 9th.  That week started out very happy considering the dreariness I knew the week would hold.


This week is also another year since Sept. 11, 2001.  This is a day like Kennedy's Assassination, Reagan's attempted Assassination, and others that if your old enough you know exactly where you were when those planes hit the towers.  I was in a University Mess Hall (for non-military:  that would be Cafeteria) for breakfast.  I had class at 10:00 that morning.  I was going through notes and the like for my next class, when I looked up on the television.  I saw the first plane hit the first tower, but I thought they had the TV on some action movie so I went back to what I was doing.  But I something kept gnawing at the back of my mind that upfront nearest the television is a group of football players.  And they are oddly quiet, and they aren't eating.  They are staring at the TV like zombies. These guys are usually eating the cafeteria out of everything and boisterous.  I looked up just in time to see another plane hit and noticed that it wasn't a movie, it was breaking news.  Right at that moment an announcement was made that classes were cancelled and there would be an assembly at noon in the auditorium.  I went back to my dorm, and my roommate had the television on and she said to call my parents. 

When I talked to mom and dad, I was told that dad was upgraded from reserves to Active Duty, my brother was on Alert and could be deployed at any moment, and my cousin Cory was already in route to Germany for his next orders.  At the time, they didn't know who was responsible yet.  Now I was scared.  I was 800 miles away from my home, by myself, and I was frightened.  My dad talked to me and told me to settle down and relax and this too shall pass and we'd get the people responsible.  My roommate had left and came back and said "You'd better go get gas in the next hour, because they are about to hike the price of gas to $4.00 a gallon."  My dad heard that and said, "Don't do it.  It's illegal to hike up the price of gas like that."  At the time, gas was 1.20 a gallon.  So I didn't.  Bottom line of that conversation, I was homesick and ready to go.  My family couldn't just go off to war without me seeing them first. 

At the assembly it was explained to us what had happened.  We were told that we needed to get a hold of our parents and stay close to campus in case anything happened.  They increased security on campus.  You couldn't get on campus anyway without a parking sticker and school ID, but now you couldn't walk the campus without an ID.  Days after that started to get back to normal on campus.  We all had classes, we all had study groups, and club events.  About the 2nd or 3rd day, we started having bomb threats that would evacuate the school.  The television was on to FOX or CNN almost constantly.  It was a while before things got truly back to normal at least for me.

So this week, other than Savannah's birthday, is not a happy week.  9/11 is tomorrow.  Tuesday.  11 years ago.  And the weather is forcasted to be the same as it was on that morning: Sunny, cool, and eerily beautiful.  It's kind of haunting actually.  And then Thursday is 3 years since my brother's passing.  I will be at the Air Force Museum volunteering the information desk in my brother's honor.  The Air Force Marathon in 2009 was going on the same weekend we laid my brother to rest.  It's just fitting.   

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Comment by Carlisle Cullen MD on September 16, 2012 at 5:59am

Savannah's birthday is the one thing to break up such a sad week. She deserves the happiness that her birthday should bring and I hope she enjoyed her special day and that you did too. It's never easy to lose a loved one or be reminded of their hardship and passing. I hope that you have some healing time. The hurt never goes away but it seems to get easier as we learn to cope. What you did, by volunteering on the date of his passing is amazing and truly honorable. I hope the day was beautiful and you had a lot of smiles.




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