Sunday, September 20, 2009


I've had the past 4 days off, the weather has been beautiful, I was able to talk with the S.O. (significant other) and it's football season. Life is definitely improving!

After 3 weeks of no word from s.o. the anxiety level was slowly creeping up into slow panic level. Deployed to OEF for the next 9 months it's been a struggle. IM and webcams help a great deal and the 2 hours we talked flew by, I'm sure we would have spoken longer had it not been for the insurgents that started to mortar his FOB. Talk about a rude awakening and a sad reminder I care too much for someone in a war zone. He still hasn't recieved the package I sent back in August so I'm thinking the next one I send will have his Thanksgiving and Christmas cards in it.

I got an email from a RN friend also deployed to OEF. She's been there since February and is badly burnt out. She writes of being tired and alone. Of missing her family and her children. She tells me she's sad all the time and doesn't want to go to work.

To that I can relate. I have been in that place, where the wounded continue to arrive and you do the same thing over and over. The same thing being trying your damnest to save a young life. Some days it works, some days it doesn't.

My problem these days is I have too many friends deployed. Too many people I care about in a very dangerous place, a place where the CIC will not send the help they so badly need.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Eight Years Later by Clara Hart

The September 11th Pentagon Memorial opened last year, and while I had an invite to the official unveiling I could not bring myself to go. This weekend was different, so with friends in tow I worked up the courage to make the journey. I knew it was going to be a hard thing for me. After losing friends that day and being at the scene as a medical provider there were too many painful memories for it not to be.
The day dawned bright and beautiful; sunny, cloudless blue sky, temperatures in the 80s. A day a lot like Sept 11th, 2001, and there was an eerie sense of calm as I stepped out of my car and took it all in. Sucking in deep breaths I reached back for the flowers I had brought and straightening with them in my shaking hands I gazed at the memorial. It was the first time I had seen it except in a picture or architectural plans.
As my friends walked by my side, my steps slowed with trepidation the closer we got to the entrance. Two black granite walls were inscribed with “Pentagon Memorial” and words which reduced me to tears.
The first wall said, “We claim this ground in remembrance of the events of September 11th, 2001. To honor the 184 people whose lives were lost, their families and all who sacrifice that we may live in freedom. We will never forget”.
The second wall bore these words: “On September 11th, 2001 acts of terrorism took the lives of thousands at the World Trade Center in New York City, in a grassy field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania and here at the Pentagon. We will forever remember our loved ones, friends and colleagues.”

As my vision began to blur I scanned the names for one in particular. Unable to find it I clutched the flowers to my chest and began to cry in earnest. I remembered hearing the words “We can’t find him” that day and in the days that followed. I smelled the jet fuel and saw the flames and black clouds of smoke rising from the destroyed building. I heard the “evacuate” orders and in my mind I watched people running. Pain blindsided me and sobs buried deep within clawed their way out. I wanted to fall to my knees, wrap my arms around my body and scream with the absolute agony of the hurt inside me. The sorrow overflowed and I was helpless. My friends, on either side of me, wrapped their arms around me and protected me from the onlookers witnessing this very private hell.
Slowly I was able to regain control and move forward into the memorial. As I walked the perimeter I looked at the years on the markers. The memorial is set up from youngest to oldest, each name engraved on the open end of a bench, with the bench opening to the Pentagon if the person was on the plane or opening away from the Pentagon if the person was in the building.

Reaching the correct year I began to walk amongst the granite and silver benches; once again unable to find that particular name I began to feel panic whelm up inside me. My friend called my name and as I turned around he pointed and said, “It’s here”. Making my way over I sat and laid my flowers in the water flowing below. Thoughts and images raced around in my head, silent screams once again threatening to become audible. How is it possible after almost eight years it can still hurt this badly?

Later I faced my friend and looked at him and said, “You often tell me I am passionate about my work, protective as hell of my wounded and their families." I waved my hand in the direction of the other benches and the Pentagon. “This is why." With tears streaming down my face and in a voice choked with emotion I spoke of that day and I told him things I have never shared with anyone. I talked about the very basic fact that, to me, every single one of the men and women I care for is helping to prevent another September 11th.
When I finished speaking he walked over to me and wrapped his arms around me, my sobs again taking over as we stood there. A combat veteran and a nurse, both with memories too painful to put into words but sharing the common ground, the agony, that such images and experiences bring.
Needing to be alone I wandered off, and when I was ready I circled back around to meet my friends. As they approached I saw another woman accompanying them. As we drew even she gazed at me and said, “I’m sorry to intrude, but I felt led to come over and tell you how sorry I am for your loss." Her face filled with sadness. She said she was from Texas, and I recognized her as the woman who had arrived at the same time we did, and had witnessed my collapse. Embarrassed, I wanted to move on, but she opened her arms and said, “I’m so sorry for your pain. Please, I’d like to give you a hug if I may.” In that moment the kindness and empathy of strangers was shown to me. She understood, even eight years later. I briefly hugged her, thanked her for her words and had to move on, afraid if I stayed any longer the pain would resurface and I would once again be reduced to wrenching sobs.

Friday, September 04, 2009

It Kills Our Warriors Too

Did you ever realize our troops could go to war and, while in theater amidst all the violence, be told they had brain cancer or thyroid cancer or renal cancer or any of those other cancers? Yep, it's true. I've seen many young warriors returned to the States because of new onset seizures, severe personality changes or unexplained illnesses only to be diagnosed with cancer. Sadly, most of the time when it's diagnosed the cancer is in the advanced stages. Young men, who survive the violence and brutality of war only to be fallen by cancer, men with new wives or young children,who are supposed to have their whole lives ahead of them! Only too many times I've seen "whole lives" defined by mere months or only a year or two. It is simply mind boggling and I can say no more.