+Thursday, October 13, 2005+
On Monday I attended the funeral for CW3 John Flynn. Yesterday the funeral for SSG Patrick Stewart was held, but I did not go - I just couldn't. Two funerals in one week, and I can't help but think the most morbid of thoughts. I felt terrible for not going to the funeral yesterday, but.....I just couldn't. If you've ever had to watch a woman bury her husband, you probably understand why I couldn't watch it again yesterday.

9 months ago or so when we had our first FRG meeting without our soldiers, when wives were sad, but were, nonetheless, chittering with excitement over the FRG, when every single one of us showed up with notepads, eager to absorb as much information as possible about where our loved ones were at, what they would be doing, when they would be home, and the most glorious acronym in the military - R&R - I remember vividly how somber the room got when we had to discuss notification of injury or casualty. The atmosphere changed completely. But certainly everyone from our unit would return safely. I feel naive for even thinking it; 9 months ago I never would've imagined that by October two of those women would have to bury their husbands.

The funeral on Monday was incredible. If you haven't already read the post written by one of the soldiers in Matt's unit about the ramp ceremony for these men, please take a chance to read it now. Losing men from a unit is painful for their families and for the men serving with them, and it's amazing to see how many people are affected not only here at home, but overseas as well. On Monday, literally hundreds of people packed into the small church for the services. I don't know how quickly the main chapel filled up, but there was no room in it by the time I arrived (and I was early!), so along with a few hundred other people, I sat in another room of the church and watched the services on video.

The mass lasted over 2 hours. My heart sank as I watched troops march in with the coffin draped with an American flag to bagpipes wailing "Amazing Grace." The strength and eloquence his wife sat through the funeral with speaks loudly of her character, and she expressed nothing but the deepest pride for her husband. She said her husband was her best friend, the love of her life, and that her children would grow up knowing that their father was a hero and died doing what he loves. And this - "Freedom isn't free."

I was choked up and sniffly and probably red and blotchy - I was fighting with vehemence to keep the tears back, but hell, I'm crying as I write this, how could I hold back tears then? Many people spoke, particulars of the mission were stated; I had to leave a little early - since I was attending the funeral on my "lunch" and had taken about a 3 hour lunch, I slid out toward the end and felt like shit for doing so (and most certainly would not have done so were I in the chapel). I pray fervently to God that our unit suffers no further losses, and please keep the men from our unit - CW3 John Flynn, SSG Patrick Stewart - and the other men who were onboard the Chinook when it crashed - Adrian Stump, Tane Baum, and Kenneth Ross - and their families in your thoughts and prayers. May God rest their souls and watch over their loved ones in this most difficult of times.

wishing matt was here @ 2:23 PM+

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *