Sunday, May 31, 2009

Day 365 - May 31, 2009

It was somewhere around 2:30ish on a Saturday afternoon and I saw that Breezy was calling my work phone. I thought that was odd, because we had just talked a little while before while I was at lunch, but I answered anyway. She was crying and I couldn't really understand what she was saying. I finally realized that she was telling me to just come outside and I remember thinking - for goodness sake - I am so tired of all the drama with her and her boyfriend. It never once occurred to me that it could be anything else.

But, I did walk outside to see what was going on and she was just holding her stomach and sobbing and screaming "I can't tell you! I can't say the words! I just can't tell you!" I honestly just had no idea what was going on. I finally got her to stand still long enough for her to really look at me and she just broke. She handed me this piece of paper with a phone number on it and said that Kevin had been injured.

I went into shock first and then denial. There was just no way. How would she find out before me?

But she did (and that's a whole different story).

So her and I ran back into the office that I worked in with the rest of my department and I remember slamming the door and we were both crying so loud and shaking so badly. Matter of fact, my hands were shaking so violently that it took many tries to get the phone number dialed. I had to keep hanging up and trying again and finally I had Breezy hold my wrist still long enough for me to punch in the numbers.

I did manage to get through and talk to someone at whatever department of the Army they had me call and he just told me that at that point Kevin was alive, but that his wounds were extremely severe and he was in very critical condition. They listed all of his injuries and it turns out that the list was in no way accurate.

I was still shaking so bad and just crying and I honestly just couldn't imagine being the person on the other end of the line. I remember thinking about that at the time that he was telling me things - my mind was just going off into all different directions - and I realized that I needed to write everything down. I had to have Breezy write it all because I truly couldn't even hold a pen.

I think I lost a bit of time at about now because I don't remember what happened next, but somehow I just shut everything down and started to leave work. I didn't care that my day wasn't done - but I did try to tell a supervisor and when she couldn't acknowledge me because she was on the phone - I just started to leave.

As I was headed for the door - my friend Cathy saw us and I think she new immediately. I'm sure she (and everyone) assumed the worst, but I did tell them he was still alive. Cathy took me and Breezy home and from there - I couldn't tell you. I have no idea how long she stayed. I know that I called my family - but I don't remember doing it. I assume I called Moe and everyone else too - but I don't remember that either.

I do vaguely remember people coming in and out. Personally - I just wanted everyone to get lost. I know a couple of Breezy's friends came over and one of them just kept talking about going out and how they had to figure out where they were going that night and I think I told Breezy to get her the hell out of my house. I know that so many of my friends came too, as did my sister. I really just wanted everyone to go home.

I know that I didn't sleep for days. I was told I could call every 8 hours and get an update, but I admit that I did call more often than that. They never had anything new to tell me anyway, but the unknowing was just killing me and I had to do something.

That was probably the worst part. If I had been a wealthy person - I probably would have been on a plane to Landstuhl (sp) Germany to see him. I just needed to see him and make sure he really was alive. To make sure he was okay. It was unfathomable to me that my baby was so seriously wounded all the way on the other side of the world and I couldn't do a damn thing about it. I mean seriously - maybe they made a mistake, right?

But we all know they didn't.

I think I lay in the fetal position in my master bath on my pink shag rug for hours over the next couple of days. It was the only place I could go that people would just leave me alone. I do remember one time someone knocking on the door and I just screamed for them to go away and leave me alone and it turned out to be Breezy. She came in and we just held each other and sobbed for such a long time while laying there on the floor. She was the only person that could even begin to understand what this was like. Her and Kevin had always been so close and I knew she would never make it through this if the worst should happen - she had already lost so many people around her - including her best friend.

You guys just can't imagine the despair. You wonder if he is going to make it. And how you will live if he doesn't. And things are just foggy sometimes because it's like you are a zombie. And then there's the disbelief - I mean this really can't be happening, right? It's just someone's idea of a sick joke. Or it is a mistake. And then there's anger - I mean how can they send 19 year old kids over to place like that? How can they not train them better? Longer? And sometimes this little ray of hope shines through - just not very often. It's often enough to keep us going though and that's all we need.

We pretty much all know what happened next. It took 2 days for me to see my son. Cathy drove us to the airport and upon arrival, our liaison took us straight to the hospital. As I mentioned in my post on June 4 of last year - I did faint immediately upon seeing Kevin. I just couldn't imagine this person being my baby. This person had no lips and goggles on and a ventilator and was completely covered in bandages. Only his toes stuck out. I didn't think it was Kevin - there was so much hope there that maybe they really did make a mistake - but Breezy told me to look at the toes - they were definitely Kevin's. Darn her for being so sensible when I needed to think that the Army messed up and Kevin was somewhere eating slop in a tent.

I can't begin to tell everyone how horrifying those days were. We have had so many horrible days in the past year, but I have to be, and am, thankful that Kevin is still alive.

To Andrew's family and to James' family too - we ended up being lucky and I am so incredibly sorry that it didn't work out that way for you. I did cry a lot on the ride home today and it wasn't because of what we have lost - I am the type of person that will always make the best of what I've got - but it was because of the loss of both Andrew and James. For all of the horror that we went through - we, at least, had a possible light at the end of the tunnel. You did not. I just want you all to know that your boys will never be forgotten by anyone in my family and if there is anything that we can ever do for any of you - please don't hesitate to ask. I also sincerely hope that your pain has lessened in the past year and I wish a full recovery for Daniel and as any mother would wish for - for Kevin too.

May James and Andrew Rest in Peace.


LISA said...


No one could say it any better than you, for no one has or could even imagine what it has been like to walk in your shoes ( and Brianna too ).

You have been through hell and back.

May 31, 2008 was a day of horror for four families. The families of Daniel, Kevin, James and Andrew...our heroes.

Andrew Shields...

James Finley...

I wish we knew more about Daniel to show his story and honor his memory too.

God Bless all of the families that had their lives touched forever on that May 31, 2008 day.

We've been praying for Kevin every single day and through the Grace of God, he is still with us and with everything considered, Kevin is doing very well.

Prayer, good thoughts, encouragement, sympathy...but most of all sending our love and care to Kevin, you and Brianna. We have felt your every word, Leslie, your every fear, your laughter, your anger and your hope. Sometimes that's the best we can do is there.

We will be with you the next 365 days and the next and the next. The best thing is...God never EVER leaves any of us. HE is with us always.

Anonymous said...

Leslie MY HERO. How glad I was to see you and give you a hug. Kevin looks so wonderful. I want you to know that at this moment you are spoiling my makeup cause I'm crying(bet you can't imagine that honey) Love ya and I can't wait for Riverfest. Pam

Jodi said...

Hey Les....

Thanks for the good, sobbing cry this morning! LOL. Seriously though, you took me back to that Saturday, 365 days ago, and the phone call I received from my brother, telling me the news. I felt shock, anger, disbelief, then just sobbed. This wasn't happening. I wouldn't believe it. He was supposed to come home. Nothing was supposed to happen to him. For God's sake, he was only 19 years old! This wasn't supposed to happen! Someone made a mistake....
But then we had the terrible job of going over and telling our parents, Andrew's Grammy & Grandpa. I will NEVER forget my mother's screaming cry. The minute she opened the door and saw me, both my brothers and sister-in-laws and nieces and nephew, she knew. I will NEVER forget those minutes, hours and days after. Never. Our familes, as well as James' and Daniel's, have been thru hell this last year, lest in different ways. But in no way is anyone suffering any more or any less. But we will always have each other. Please know that you can always call us if you need anything. Kevin has come so far in this last year and has accomplished so much. We are all so very proud of him. And your and Breezy's strength and determination inspire everyone out here. We love you guys.

Healing and positive thoughts for Kevin and his new journey this year. Strength and comfort for Leslie and Breezy.
Safe thoughts for all military personnel and strength for their familes.
Andrew's Aunt Jodi

Anonymous said...

Oh, Leslie what you 3 have been through this year!!!
So good to see Kevin home and with his buddies!!! I know Haleigh saw you guys and Zach spent time with you, i'm sorry I didn't see you also!! Take Care!!! Thoughts and prayers with you as always!!!


Anita said...

Dear Leslie,

I have left comments before but not for a while now. I do read everyday and have watched and read of Kevin's progress back to health. The pictures are great and the video of Kevin was amazing. Leslie, I can so relate to all the things that you are recalling now on this 1 year anniversary of Kevin's injury. My son was injured also and I did end up going to Germany to see him. This was a lifechanging moment in my heart and life as I know it has been for you. I had to relinquish my son to God. For me, that was hard, but it was my only choice if I wanted to stay sane. Even in the most difficult of circumstance,...God has shown me HIS love for my son and for me. This all comes flooding back to me as I read the account of your horrific experience. I stand with you as do many others, in the work of bringing Kevin back to the best he can be. You are a fantastic mom,...I'm praying for continued strength for you, mentally and physically. Continue to look out for your own self.
Sending love now...from Canada,

Anonymous said...

I will never forget that day !!!
I got a phone call that day from the FRG and they told me that Dan lost hs legs and that he is fighting with his life.
I cant really say how many hours I cried or what I did after I hang up ..
I remember talking to Dans mom but the rest of my memory is gone ...
It seems like I was running on audiopilot for the next days.

On the 3rd of June I went to the Hospital in Landstuhl.
And I am sooo emberrassed to say that when I walked into Dan's room I literally dropped the floor.
It was the most horrifying moment in my life.
I really thought I was prepared...

The FRG told me about his burns and about his legs but they also told me about that he is pickin on nurses again.

I walked into his room with his favorite chocolate... but honestly NOTHING could ever prepare you for seeing only gauze and tubes.
It was the hardest thing I ever did in my life.

1 year later we have to be soooo thankful that Dan & Kev are doing soo great.
Its amazing and I cant be happier more to see how the guys are doing.
We knew it would be a looooooong way to go and its not over yet.
But we have our guys around us.

Leslie, Breezy and Kev - u guys will always have a huge spot of my heart.
And I sooo cant wait to hug u guys one day in person !!!

James & Andrew RIP

Kris said...

God bless you Leslie, Breezy & Kevin. I wish I had more brilliant words than that. You are all in my thoughts and my prayers every single day. And you always will be. I feel so blessed to have a "front row" seat to watch the miracle that is Kevin continue to unfold for the next year. I pray that Daniel continues to heal, and his family as well. I just can't imagine the pure hell that you've endured and lived through the past year. I pray for your strength, peace and comfort each day.

To James' & Andrew's families, may God be with you. Your sons and the immeasurable sacrifice they made will never, ever be forgotten. And that is a promise. Rest in peace, Brave Warriors.

God bless each and every one of you. You will all always have thoughts, prayers, support and loads of Angel Hugs coming your way every single day.

- Kris, a Soldiers' Angel from RI

Long-time RN said...

Thinking of all the families today with thanks, respect and gratefulness.

Linda said...

Leslie and Kevin,
What your family must have endured the day you got the call...i can't even imagine! But seeing Kevin today and to see the daily progress he has made thru reading this blog is nothing short of a miracle~ This past year has shown the closeness of your family...something alot of families don't have these days. I applaud you Leslie and Breezy...for the hurdles you have been thru and the joys you have shared with everyone....And to you Kevin...You have my heartfelt thanks for putting all of our freedom before everything else. Thank you!
Keep up the good have come so far!

Jessica said...

I can't imagine what that day was like for you and Breezy, and also for the families of Daniel, Andrew and James. God bless you all and may He comfort all those who mourn their loss. I'm so very grateful for the sacrifice those young men made.

You're in my thoughts and in my prayers.