Sad times

I’ve been fighting tears, somewhat unsuccessfully, since Saturday when we learned about this helicopter crash. Although each individual soldier is important and special, three of the soldiers involved worked at my husband’s office. He knew them all.

Today it is unthinkable, but there is no official count of the number of American casualties on D-Day. A low-ball estimate of 2500 is an incredibly staggering number. I can’t imagine my mind trying to live through that time and trying to grapple with that magnitude. But my guess is that you would just go numb. I mean, really, how many tears can you possibly shed in one day? And when the next day and the next and the next bring you the same news but with different names, at what point do you just dry your eyes and get on with life? Imagine the horrors of September 11th repeated over and over again for years.

When you spread out the same number of deaths over a much longer period of time, the pain is prolonged. There isn’t the anesthetizing effect that thousands dead in one instant has. When a dozen die, you can read every news article, every bio, every obituary. You have the luxury of mourning. But when over fifty thousand lie dead or wounded after three days fighting, as they did in the town of Gettysburg, there is no time for tears. You pick up your shovel and join the other women, children, and old men left to deal with the mess. And you pray you don’t recognize any faces.

Yesterday, our FRG had a special meeting to state what was known, to ask for support for any future assistance we might offer these families, and to discuss ways to help them. For a week or two, volunteers are needed to answer phones in a call center, and my neighbor and I will take turns watching the kids or working the phones. It’s not going to be a pleasant task listening to people cry on the phone, answering their questions, directing them to services, but I suppose it’s better than digging graves or dressing wounds. Fritz was over at my neighbor’s house yesterday afternoon and told me that she was baking cookies (and gave him one!). Today is her turn to do phone duty, and I’m sure she is planning to take those cookies to the call center. I spent my afternoon online looking up ideas for services we might offer the families. We’re keeping busy. We’re doing something, because that’s how we deal with it. If we do this, will it make it all better?

One of the soldiers has three adult children, one has five minor children, and one has two boys ages 9 and 5. One woman in the FRG said that the 9 year old asked his mom if he and his brother never fought again, would Daddy come home? If he does this, will it make it all better?

If only…

12 thoughts on “Sad times

  1. “If only” is right. Oh, how sad. You’ve got me in tears now.

    Our Lady of Peace, pray for us all.

    You know, even if we understand that the soldiers are protecting our country, our families–it doesn’t make it easier when we lose even one. I’m sure that since you are in the military community it is many times harder than for us civilians. Please do know that there are many of us out there who are grateful for the sacrifice your families and friends are making.

    And I’m one who is quite sure that my older son will want to serve our country when he is old enough. I will be proud for him to do that–and scared to death, all at the same time.

  2. I grew up in a military town and have the utmost respect for our soldiers and even more for their families! Our prayers will be for our soldiers and their families today (the optional memorial for today is Our Lady Queen of Peace).

  3. My prayers are with the families as well with you and your husband. When my husband was the squadron commander of a test squadron, one of test pilots was killed during a test mission. It devastated us all. There was a great strain in trying to minister to the needs of the surviving family and deal with the grief of the rest of the squadron. I found myself crying at the most unusual times because I was trying to be strong for others but sometimes just had to let it go.

    I wrote a bit about being the Spouse of a Soldier here.

  4. I’m so, so sorry, Michelle.

  5. Praying for the families…

  6. Lord have Mercy – May their Memories be Eternal.

    Hugs and love to you and your Dh as you deal with this horrific loss.

  7. Its never easy to hear about someone killed while on duty—even harder when they are part of your community. When you’re married to the military, I think you always know in the back of your mind that these things are possible, even probable, but it doesn’t ease the pain when it does happen. Please know that my prayers are with you and your husband and for the families as well.

  8. There are few things as sad as when a young child loses a parent. I don’t know how families deal with such a loss. I can only hope that God will work all things together for good. But how He can do so is a mystery to me.

  9. no words, just big sigh…

  10. my prayers are with you and your community, and with all the soldiers. it’s comforting to read how your community is so mobilized to support each other- that is a ray of hope, if anything. like barb, I am also very grateful for the sacrifices made. I have so much respect for military families, and so much to be thankful for every day. peace and strength to you and the families involved!

  11. Prayers ascending for all who lost their lives and also for the families whom mourn their loss.

  12. I will add everyone involved to my Liturgy intentions next week. I don’t know what else to do, but pray. I am so very sorry for all those left behind, especially the children.

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