On losing my Daddy; 8 yrs later

It’s been eight years, but that night is forever etched into my memory like a tattoo I neither asked for nor wanted.

I remember every vivid detail.

I remember watching him take his last breathes, not knowing that’s what was happening.

I remember standing at his bedside, crying out over and over again, like a three year old who just discovered she’s all alone.

I remember screaming, and falling to my knees…

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I remember sitting cross legged on the floor outside his door, making call after call.

I called my brother, praying with every breath he wouldn’t answer, not knowing what I was to say.

I called my cousin and asked her to get out of bed and drive across town to keep my baby girl

I called Ben, told him to get dressed and come quickly. He had flown in on a Red Cross message from NTC just hours prior.

I called my Nana, his birth-mother, and listened, helpless while she wailed. We would lose her only two years later.

I called aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents, dear friends and bosses, and anyone else we wanted to know before the rest of the world.

I forcefed my mother anti-anxiety medication, fearful that she was going to have a heart attack. She could be angry at me later, but at least she would be alive…

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Every single event of that night is forever with me. The extra bed the nurses had brought in for my mom and my pregnant self to sleep in.

Every person who was in the room; their murmurs and weeps.

The way the lights went from calming and low to the abruptness of the fluorescents as doctors and nurses lingered in and out. The way my uncles sat around me on the floor because I simply could not, would not, get up.

My mother’s sobs and wails, and the look of complete devastation and fear on my brothers face. He had just turned 22. Old enough to be the man of the house, young enough that he shouldn’t have to be…

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My mama has told me often that she has very few memories of that night. And perhaps that’s why I am keeper of them, locked away, out of sight where they can do no more damage. Like a tattoo etched in regret, that no-one ever sees, I cover them up and hide them away to protect those around me.

The Rest of the story… and here we go!

A lot of you have noticed that I’ve been working my business pretty hard lately. In fact, we’re actively working to earn our first car and put together a Unit. But a lot of you probably don’t know why.

Last summer, my husband and I came to the realization that God was moving us in a new direction. We didn’t know where, or when, but we felt that maybe that plan no longer involved the Army. For months, we talked and prayed and dreamed about what this new life might look like, and came to the conclusion that we were being led back to Tennessee. The pain of multiple deployments was taking its toll on his body and our family, both physically and mentally, and we decided that separating from the military would be the only way to get relief.

But just a few shorts weeks before we began the process, we saw one last neurosurgeon who immediately changed our plans. The extreme pain that he has been in for so many years was due to failing discs, and nerve issues, and the need for a second spinal fusion. The good news is that the doctors think they can alleviate the pain, the bad news is that he will no longer be physically fit for duty. The damage of two spinal fusions, three surgeries, multiple deployments, blasts and explosions is already done.

But we’re the lucky ones. We will walk away, knowing we had 14 amazing, wonderful adventurous years in the army. We will walk away with minds and bodies in tact. So many do not.

It is our firm belief that God stirred our hearts and planted those seeds in our minds last summer because he knew the path we were about to walk. Twenty years and retirement was always our plan, and the army was all we’ve ever known. But how grateful we are, that we saw one last doctor. One last MRI. One last specialist.

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So for the next few days I’ll be working from Walter Reed. If you ever want to be humbled to your core, sit for just 20 minutes and watch as families come and go. The true price of freedom is kept within these walls. We are forever grateful to have lived this life, and even more indebted to those friends who didn’t return.

I am beyond thankful to have the opportunity to help provide and prepare my family for this life change, and know that I have the ability to make a huge contribution to our future. That car we’re earning, means we can sell a car and pay off student loans. That unit we’re building means I am able to help make the down payment on our forever home. And because I can work when and where I want, for the next 30 days when my husband needs constant care and assistance, I will be the one to provide it.

So now you know the rest of the story, as they say. I want you to know how much I appreciate every single one of you, as customers, as friends, as family. Thank you for always cheering me on, and for your constant love and prayers.

If you’re just now finding us online, welcome! We can’t wait to share this journey with you.

xoxo,
Stef.