Yesterday was Veterans' Day, a day that is celebrated quietly in our home.
My husband is a veteran and he served in the Air Force during the Vietnam War over the skies of Vietnam and Cambodia as a gunner in a C-130 plane.
He speaks of it sometimes, and since his brother Bradley was also in the Air Force fifteen years later, it gave them a lot in common to chat about with the years between them.
Brad was only three years old when my husband, David, enlisted in the Air Force, and when he returned some years later David married and moved away, so they were not close during the years that Brad was growing up.... but he idolized his big brother and when his time came to graduate and leave home he too joined the Air Force.
These two brothers, although fifteen years apart in age, would speak for nearly an hour every Sunday on the phone after re-connecting with each other in their adult years, and each Veterans' Day they would exchange cards through the mail recognizing one another's service to our country. This year was the first year that could not happen.
Our Bradley.... and yes, I call him 'Our' Bradley, because I too would usually speak with him for a few minutes during that Sunday phone call. It's been thirteen days since his passing, and there are moments when I think of him and hear his laugh.
I hope I never forget that sound.
Deep, bold, throw the head back, genuine laugh, a pure delight to hear.
Last spring, when the tumor started to expand into certain parts of his brain, his memories really took a turn for the worse, sometimes remembering things, sometimes not. AND, since there could be no more surgeries, we knew that Brad's time here was limited.... we accepted that we would be losing him sometime this year since that's what the surgeon said, that is what all of the statistics said.
We were no longer hearing that laugh.
Acceptance is hard.
Yesterday I spent quite a bit of time downloading photos from the Power Point photo show that was played at his memorial service last Friday, and then I put them together along with some of the photos we had taken of Brad, and I made a hard copy iPhoto book that is being mailed to my mother-in-law who is 85 years old and could not travel to the memorial service.
I broke down and cried while putting it all together for her.
During dinner the tears also flowed... crocodile tears down my cheeks that fell, into my hot chicken wings and over my salad and dressing. My husband fell silent.
Mourning the loss of a family member is never easy and happens differently for anyone who has experienced a loss.
After dinner I returned to my computer screen and made an iMovie to share with our family;
I seemed to need to spend the day with Bradley and his photos. My husband came and stood behind me, rubbing my shoulders and caressing my hair as I once again began to sob. Hopefully today will be better in our house.
We are just finding it hard to believe he is gone.
husband, father, son, brother, uncle, friend, engineer, pilot, runner of 5Ks, man with many plans