Three years. In one sense it's hard to believe it's been that long since Breezy came to my work to tell me of Kevin being wounded. In another sense, it seems like a lifetime has passed. Do I say this every year? I feel it every year. Every day really...
But anyway, it was a rough weekend, but some good came of me doing the slideshow and of me watching it at least a hundred times. When I first started pulling up these photos of Kevin before he left for the Army and even while he was enlisted, I just couldn't get past what we lost.
The fact that Kevin can't do the things that he once loved doing breaks my heart. The fact that he may never meet a woman that can get past the reality that he can't verbalize his feelings, wants, needs and desires really breaks my heart. The fact that he has one person that spends time with him (and let's face it - Johnnie gets paid to do it) is also heart wrenching. I know how lonely I feel - I can only imagine how it feels for a 22 year old. There are just SO MANY negatives to what Kevin lives now that it's no wonder I just need to cry for him sometimes.
Then we hit the photos of the actual attack. Gosh. I NEVER look at those photos. I had been told a few weeks after the attack that Kevin had been blown 35 feet into the air, his helmet blew off, he was on fire, he went over a billboard and landed on his head. In the second photo, there is a billboard at the top right of the photo. I always envision - every time I see that photo and soooo many other times - Kevin hurtling through the air in flames. That vision has haunted me so often for three years now. (And honestly - if someone out there is 'in the know' - please don't tell me. It's better sometimes to not know everything).
And then we see the horrible disfigurement. There is nothing anyone can say to change the horrors and fears that ran through my body at that time. The not knowing was gut wrenching and I hope I never have to have those feelings again.
And then there's the pain and suffering etched on Kevin's face during some of the moments when it just hurt to get to his feet, to sit up or to take a single step. All of the puking that went on due to the fluid fluctuating in his head...man...it's hard to see your children suffer like that. Did I have time to deal with it then though? NO. When Kev was hurting, I had to be the person telling him to not give up. To push harder. To manipulate him into raising his head high and to force him to 'wipe the sweat and drive on'. Yes, I sometimes turned my head to hide a tear or two, but they had to be quickly wiped so Kevin wouldn't see them.
Then we had a few good days. And many more bad. Then some good. Then some bad. And this went on for so damn long that I lost hope of ever reaching a plateau. Something that I so badly needed just so I could take a breathe and say "I can deal with this". There just didn't ever seem to be a time when I knew it would be the same the next day.
But we finally did make it to that point - last August when the plate was put in the second time. Things have been much calmer medically - we tend to schedule surgeries now instead of them being emergent and frankly - there is calmness in that. Even though we are still traveling and still having surgeries and still needing so much therapy and so many procedures and doctor's visits and so on and so forth...we have reached a better place. And truly - there is no way that the three of us couldn't know how lucky we are.
To the Shields and Finley families - I would do anything to give you one last moment with your loved one. One last smile. One last hug. One last kiss. I would give everything for the boys to be back home with you for good. I can't do that though, but I can tell you that as long as I am alive - they will never be forgotten in our home. They are Kevin's brothers - as is Daniel.
I do want to end this post thanking Butch for bringing other brothers back into Kevin's life yesterday. To be honest, we don't really ever hear from anyone in the Army and sometimes I feel like Kevin has been forgotten. Yesterday though, I was informed of a reunion of The Herd and I talked to 3 members myself and then we met another Herd member today while at BAMC. You have all made me feel that Kevin could be enfolded back into the 173rd and I look forward to cultivating a relationship somehow. I need to make it a priority and I'm thinking breakfast on Wednesdays at The Drop Zone with other paratroopers might be a good start...
First 2 from the Nov kit!
5 years ago