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Annie Murphy - Flag at Palisades Mall
Saturday Morning Message: Memorial Day Activities

May 21, 2016

Good Morning,

This picture is the American flag next to a banner designed by Anne, mother of Michael, which is placed in a mall near her home to remind people of Memorial Day's meaning. You will read her comments later.

Most of the TAPS staff, including me, will be attending the 22nd Annual TAPS National Military Seminar and Good Grief Camp on May 26 - May 30. If you are joining TAPS at the Seminar, you might want to attend a workshop on Sunday, May 29, titled, "Become a Contributing Writer for TAPS Publications," given by Bevin Landrum, TAPS Magazine editor, and myself. We would love to see you there. If you are already a contributing editor and can't attend the workshop, you can contact us and we will make sure any questions you have are answered.

Although there will not be a Saturday Morning Message on May 28, feel free to write to me at carol.lane@taps.org anytime. I may not be able to answer right away, but I will get back to you. If you have something that needs immediate attention, please remember to call the TAPS Helpline at 800-959-8277, which is available 24/7. You are never alone with TAPS. The Saturday Morning Message will come to you as always on June 4.

Would you like to share a question or read how other survivors respond to a topic or question you have? I would love to gather some thoughts for future Saturday Morning Messages. You can also submit favorite songs that are meaningful to you. It can be helpful to read and hear how others cope. If you would like to send a message thanking one or all of those who wrote this week, send it to me and I will make sure your thoughts are passed along to them. 

In addition to the ideas shared below, we can also honor our loved ones by communicating with each other through writing. You never know how your words may touch the heart of another. I encourage you to reply to the Saturday Morning Message by emailing carol.lane@taps.org. In order to have your reply included in the week's Saturday Morning Message, it is best to send them to me by Tuesday of the following week. This week's question is located below my signature. Thank you to everyone responding this week and those who read this message. 

Hugs,
Carol 

Question for Next Week's Saturday Message 

Instead of a question, the Saturday Morning Message on June 4 will be a collection from the TAPS archives about the changes TAPS events have made in survivors' lives. 

Song for the Week 

I thought the Armed Forces Medley: 2015 National Memorial Day Concert  would be an appropriate group of songs for a Saturday Morning Message about Memorial Day activities. 

Answers from Survivors

From Anne, mother of Michael: I designed the flag that hangs in the Palisades Center Mall in West Nyack, New York, to honor our son, Michael, USMC, who was killed while test piloting the Osprey helicopter on Dec. 11, 2000, on Memorial Day.

At the Lions Club in my town, we have a beautiful park to honor and respect all of our heroes. On the wall in the park are two plaques to honor my son and seven other heroes who have died in our recent war. Each year, I arrange the ceremony with a Marine Corps Honor Guard who  plays taps. A speaker from the Marine Corps and several others speak. Music is provided from our local high school. After the ceremony, everyone is invited back to our local firehouse for hot dogs, hamburgers, etc.

I will also be attending several schools that have invited Gold Star mothers to speak about our children. I feel that by honoring my child he will not be forgotten. This year, I am also honoring my husband, John, a Purple Heart Korean War veteran who died on June 6, 2015, and is buried in a veterans cemetery in my area. My son is buried in Arlington National Cemetery.

From Leslie, mother of Eugene: On Memorial Day weekend, usually I am at the cemetery. This year we will be with grandkids. I see my son in each of his brother's daughters. I am fortunate to have them and all my other grandkids to love and dote on. Fortunately, at our apartment complex there will be all kinds of nice things at the pool for kids and adults.

Eunah - American Flag Wreath From Eunah, mother of Eben: Last spring, I texted my son, Eben, an 18-year-old Marine, to wish him a happy Memorial Day and ask if any special events were being held on base. His reply was to ask me if I knew what the day was really about. Memorial Day, he told me, is a day for honoring deceased service members and should be spent remembering and appreciating the sacrifices they made for the people of this country.  At the time, I hadn't thought about the real meaning of the day and had sent him that message very offhandedly. My entire life, I had never considered Memorial Day as anything other than another break from work. I realize now how ignorant I had been. 

This year, Eben has given Memorial Day a new meaning for us yet again. This weekend will be spent remembering our son, who died in March. I started to think about Memorial Day a few weeks after his funeral. I didn't like the fact that I had to leave him to go back to our home - it felt like I was leaving him there all alone - so I decided that I wanted to make a wreath to place on his gravesite. The project itself was easy enough, but emotionally it took its toll on me. However, despite the tears, I am glad that I finished the project so that I can give it to him on Memorial Day. This way I can leave a piece of myself and a piece of our home with my son, so he always has someone with him.

Memoral Day - Donna Warren son's graveFrom Donna, mother of Eric: Memorial Day for us is in the truest sense. Our son, Eric, was killed in action Memorial Day weekend 2012. The month of May is the worst, with Mother's Day, my husband's birthday (which was the last time we spoke to Eric), my birthday (which was the last time we got a Facebook message from Eric), his angelversary, and finally Memorial Day.  That's too much for anyone to have to endure in such a short period of time. Each year, we make it through knowing that his Marines will be coming in and staying a week or so. I spend so much time deep cleaning, preparing welcome baskets, planning huge meals three times a day, and planning entertainment for the boys that I don't have much down time. This is good, otherwise May is way too overwhelming. This year not only are Marines coming, but Eric's high school friends are also coming. And this year, Oklahoma City has opened a riversport park with whitewater rafting, climbing, extreme slides and more. We are taking them all there on Eric's angelversary because I believe it is exactly something Eric would love. I can think of no better way to honor him than to do something he would love to do. It's important to me to show his friends that I'm doing OK and he would want them to be OK. Yes, I fake it, I'm far from OK, but I need them to be OK. On Monday, Memorial Day, I will be speaking at the VFW ceremony with all of Eric's friends and family there to listen to his story. Keeping his memory alive is my number one goal, and publicly speaking about him does just that. Memorial Day weekend will be very busy for us, and I am thankful for that. 

Above is a picture of one of the Marines who came last year at Eric's graveside. I can't tell you how happy it makes my heart to know how great his friends are and they were there with him surrounding him with love as he took his last breath.

From Merry, mother of Wesley: I will be in San Diego for Memorial Day. My son, Eric, and daughter-in-law live in Fallbrook, which is located near  the back entrance into Camp Pendleton.  My desire is to get to the PX sometime during the weekend and purchase a new Marine Corps flag, which I fly in front of my home. The most important thing though is to get to the parade deck for Echo Battery on Camp Pendleton - maybe take a picnic lunch - to remember the homecoming for 2/11 Echo, April 2006, and to remember Wes. That would make me happy.

Upcoming Chats

General Support Chat 
Date: Tuesday, May 24, 2016
Time: 8:30 PM - 11 PM Eastern
Hosted By: Carol Lane and Kim Suggs

The Saturday Morning Message (SMM) is a weekly communication; written and contributed to by survivors. The primary focus of the SMM is to foster peer based connection, survivors helping survivors, for support and encouragement along the grief journey. It is the goal of this communication to foster a safe, supportive atmosphere where we can openly share in a non-judgmental and caring manner. Read and contribute as you are comfortable, and explore any opinions/ideas shared that are most beneficial to you on your individual journey. Content submitted for inclusion in the SMM is edited for spacing considerations and grammatical corrections.  

If you ever need to speak to someone regarding an urgent matter or just need a listening ear, the loving family at TAPS is available to you 24 hours a day. Please feel free to contact TAPS at 1-800-959-8277. 

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heartsunset
P.S. I’ve Got A Big Secret

~ Linda Ambard , Survivor

May 16, 2016

I’ve got a big secret and soon the world will know it. The person involved will know it, but to understand the magnitude of these unspoken words, one must reflect on the past. A little more than five years ago, everything I knew about my life imploded with the assassination of my Phil. We had been married for more than 23 years and the only dreams I had revolved around growing old and dying together one day far away. My identity was wrapped up in being the great military wife and mother. I was content to live in my husband’s shadow and later in my children’s shadow. I was the quiet foil who brought it all together and created the family life they all gravitated towards. On 27 April 2011, my job was ended. My dreams ended and I entered a vast barren wasteland of surviving.

Initially, I couldn’t fathom letting another man into my life. Phil and I had that what if talk just before he deployed. We had never had that talk before, but this time even though I made jokes about Raul the Pool Boy (and I do not have a pool nor do I know any Raul’s), Phil pressed on. I was having none of it since he was supposed to be in a safe position. Finally, he looked at me and asked one question that is etched on my heart, “Linda, if you died first, would you want me to be happy again?” Why, yes, yes, I would. He loved me that much.

It is easier to have that conversation than it is to consider that conversation. I was totally broken and as I made my way forward and found a way to make meaning and to make something positive out of my life, considering those words never entered the picture. I changed because I had no choice. I am no longer the quiet shy girl hiding in the shadows. I have found a niche in telling my story, advocating for military issues, and training our military members. While the road was lonely and long, I recognized people only could see my story. They treated me differently—like I needed to be fixed, that I was somehow broken, I was somehow in a different class.

While my voice and advocacy gave me a positive way forward, people couldn’t see beyond my story. When men did pay attention to me, they wanted to fix me, use me, or for me to stop talking about my story. They simply could not see I was becoming more than that defining moment—more than that story. As time went by, it became almost expected and a badge of honor to others that I wasn’t dating or involved with others. I didn’t see it as honoring or as a badge of honor, but I had no interest in convincing someone to see beyond my voice. I shut down and I truly thought I would live the rest of my days alone. I comforted myself in the thought of knowing very few people had what I had for 23 years.

And then….I became friends with a runner. He never treated me like my story and he treated me as normal. While I didn’t realize it initially and while I am good at running scared, there came a moment I knew we were destined to be great friends. It wasn’t our first race together or even our second race together, but when the Marine Corp Marathon 2015 was on both of our calendars, he showed up to navigate me to different places, get me coffee, and to talk to me. He didn’t have to. I didn’t even recognize what was starting to take root in my heart. I just knew I felt safe with him in a way I hadn’t felt safe since 2011. Over a dinner that took hours after running a long race, there was a moment that took me by surprise. I was in the bathroom brushing my teeth, and a thought crossed my mind. How could I be enjoying the company of a man? How had hours gone by and my story not have been a part of those hours. In that moment, I recognized we were going to be great friends.

After that marathon and through many messages, feelings started to grow, but I was stilted and unsure. I was so busy convincing myself of why it couldn’t work, why I should remain single, and why he wasn’t feeling the way I was feeling, it took him spelling it out around Thanksgiving. It was as simple as this. He never looked at me like I was broken. He never walked on eggshells around me. He never treated me differently. He treated me like the girl whose story is only part of the equation. While I can talk about Phil, and while he encourages me to write about my journey forward, it is only a fraction of what we share. He makes me laugh and he makes me dream again. He also is my soft place to lean into. While I cannot tell you what the future holds, I can tell you I am a better version of myself for letting him in.

People (to include one of my children) have asked me who I love more, Phil or this guy. It is apples and oranges. Consider being a parent for a second. When I had my first child, I never thought I could love another the same. Then my Joshua was born and I felt that same ferocious love and loyalty as I did for Patrick, my oldest. Three more children followed Josh and I love them equally yet differently. I am not looking for a replacement or even a man to validate me or to care for me, yet this man does. I still can be scared. Nothing about this relationship is anything like what I have had in the past. The dawning recognition this relationship is very, very different but that it is equally important to me makes me want to run. I don’t because I realize life is too short to run from happiness. I don’t run because I realize I am a better person with him than I am when I stand alone. I have grown and my heart is full. I am dreaming again and that is because of my secret.

PS My secret is about to be known to the world and to the man. Thank you for seeing beyond my story and thank you for not being intimidated by my telling of that story. G.B., I adore you…I love you. Nuff’ said.

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Pets - Donnas Yorkie Gator
Saturday Morning Message: Pet Comfort

May 14, 2016

Good Morning,

The opening picture was sent by Donna, mother of Eric. It is a picture of one of her Yorkies, Gator, who is nuzzling her best friend's puppy. Later in the Saturday Morning Message, there's a photo of Sunny Bunny next to Donna's response to this week's question about the comfort pets bring a grieving person.

Sharing your space with a pet can be very rewarding. Just having them cuddle up next to you when you are feeling down can be so uplifting. A few weeks ago there was a question about pets, and there were several survivors who sent comments or pictures too late for publication, so I decided to ask the same question to include them in this week's Saturday Morning Message. There were also new submissions that I included. I hope you enjoy the pictures and observations about how pets enhance the lives of survivors. 

Since it is less than a month until the 22nd Annual TAPS National Military Seminar and Good Grief Camp, I will post the following information in the Saturday Morning Messages for this week and next. If you are coming, you might want to attend a workshop on Sunday, May 29, titled, "Become a Contributing Writer for TAPS Publications," given by Bevin Landrum, TAPS Magazine editor, and myself. We would love to see you there.

Would you like to share a question or read how other survivors respond to a topic or question you have? I would love to gather some thoughts for future Saturday Morning Messages. You can also submit favorite songs that are meaningful to you. It can be helpful to read and hear how others cope. If you would like to send a message thanking one or all of those who wrote this week, send it to me and I will make sure your thoughts are passed along to them. 

In addition to the ideas shared below, we can also honor our loved ones by communicating with each other through writing. You never know how your words may touch the heart of another. I encourage you to reply to the Saturday Morning Message by emailing carol.lane@taps.org. In order to have your reply included in the week's Saturday Morning Message, it is best to send them to me by Tuesday of the following week. This week's question is located below my signature. Thank you to everyone responding this week and those who read this message. 

Hugs,
Carol 

Question for Next Week's Saturday Message 

Each year around Memorial Day, I have put a question in the Saturday Morning Message about survivor plans for the weekend. This year, TAPS is offering all survivors a way to share what we are doing to mark this day of honor and remembrance. 

Whether you're joining other survivors at the TAPS National Military Survivor Seminar, participating in your local Memorial Day parade or quietly reflecting on your loved one's legacy, TAPS wants to honor Memorial Day with you. Join us as we highlight the stories of our TAPS families and fallen heroes through our #GratefulNation campaign. You can share a blog, photo or short video and it can be a memory, note of honor or special way you have or plan to honor your hero on Memorial Day. 

You can send your submission to me by Tuesday, May 17, and they will be shared in next week's Saturday Morning Message and highlighted on the TAPS website or social media. The question is: What are you doing for Memorial Day weekend?  

Song for the Week 

Caryn, mother of Nathan, and Mary Jo, mother of Christopher, both sent the song "Unchained Melody" sung by the Righteous Brothers for the song of the week, so I thought it would be just the right one. 

Answers from Survivors

Pets - Rebeccas Dog AxelaFrom Rebecca, mother of Griff: On March 5, 2010, I received Axela from Griff's friend, Amanda, who was with Griff when he bought his Mazda 3, which is called Axela in Japan. We are both convinced that she came from Griff. It was no coincidence that she was found abandoned by Amanda's dad on their deck during a blizzard. When I saw the picture on Amanda's Facebook of this black and white puppy, she got my heart. She saved my life.

Pets - Donnas YorkieFrom Donna, mother of Eric: When we lost Eric, we lost our only child. I felt like I was not a mother anymore. Unbearable. My husband decided I needed a lap dog to help me through the lonely days while he was at work. I took a year off. We got two Yorkies that have forever changed my life. At first, however, all they did was bite me and run away. It's a good thing they were so darn cute, because I was miserable for the first few months with them. Then they settled down, sat with me, snuggled with me, licked my tears and, most importantly, let me be a mother again! They need lots of attention but not so much as a child. They have their own closet that is filled with clothes, coats, boots, tutus etc. I take them everywhere I go. They are my babies.  They ease my anxiety enough that it is tolerable. I need them, and I would be lost without them. They have filled a little bit of the void left from losing our son. And they have given me a reason to keep on going. They need me, too.

Pets - Sandras Dog DinoFrom Sandra, mother of Christopher: I first had to ask myself, "Do I want a pet inside our home again?" Maybe not.

When our boys were younger, my husband and I gave them two dogs, a beautiful brown and white bulldog and a tan shar-pei. Oh, we had so much fun with them. We all treated them like kids. LOL! Then the hard part came when the dogs were gone. As the boys got older, they asked for another dog. I just said, "No." I couldn't help remembering how sad we all were.

We didn't have another dog for years, but on June 2014 our life changed, we adopted a Belgian Malinois. His name is Dino, and he was 5 years old at that time. Before we got him, he belonged to the United States Marine Corp. Our son, Christopher, was a K-9 handler. Christopher was chosen to attend a training in Israel. That's where Dino met Chris.

Long story short, they worked together. We would hear of Dino's mishaps and his personality from our son. We meet Dino by Skype when we talked to our son. They served together in Afghanistan where we lost our son on Sep. 28, 2011. Christopher heard an explosion, and he ran to aid a fallen brother. He put Dino away before continuing. Christopher was killed by a second explosion. Dino never heard or saw his handler again.

My husband, Sal, notified the Corp that when he was ready for retirement we would like to adopt Dino. Well, the time came. Dino was home. It was as though he belonged here. My husband says that he knows that Dino could smell the blood line and that's why he is comfortable here.

Dino has been a blessing to us and Chris's brothers. You see, Dino was with Chris before he died. It's a comfort that we can touch, play and talk to Dino. His handler did the same. You can see and feel how much we mean to each other. We know that one day he'll go to doggie heaven and it will be a sad time, but our joy comes because we had Christopher's pal with us. Dino will always be the best medicine that was prescribed to us.

So, you ask would I have another pet? Absolutely.

From Merry, mother of Wes: My pets, Ulie, my dog, and Mittens, my cat who Wes named 18 years ago, have been a comfort.  

From Bob and Kitty, parents of John: Before John entered the Army, he helped raise a German shepherd named Ginger from a pup. She died while he was deployed to Iraq in 2003. We adopted another German shepherd within months of Ginger's death. Her name was Sasha and she died at the young age of 6 ½,  which was a year and a half after John died. Because she reminded us of Ginger in her mannerisms and personality, she comforted us by just being around and loving us, too. Her early death reminded us also of the fragility of life and our need to show love and respect to those we not only live with, but those we encounter daily.

Dogs have a sense of your demeanor and by being available and leaning on you, they show love in a very tangible way. (And you can hug them, too!)

From Diane, mother of Caleb: Griz is a comfort to have, especially since he is Caleb's dog. He has comforted me just by being here. He doesn't try to give me advice or tell me it's going to get better or any other cliché. He's just here and available. When I cry, he is right there. He'd love to lick my face to make it all better. I know because he tries! Some nights when it is so difficult, I will sleep on Caleb's bed. Griz knows he is welcome on that bed, so he climbs up and settles in. Having him there beside me, or at the foot of the bed, has been a great comfort. I remember those early days when I'd sleep for a little bit and wake up crying. I could reach out and just hold onto him while my whole world was shredded to pieces. I am forever grateful for this sweet dog who has helped and continues to help me on this difficult journey.

Upcoming Chats

General Support Chat  
Date: Tuesday, May 17, 2016 
Time: 8:30 PM - 11 PM Eastern 
Hosted By: Carol Lane and Kim Suggs  

Survivors of Suicide Loss Chat  
Date: Thursday, May 19, 2016 
Time: 9 PM - 11 PM Eastern 
Hosted By: Carla Stumpf-Patton and Kim Suggs  

The Saturday Morning Message (SMM) is a weekly communication; written and contributed to by survivors. The primary focus of the SMM is to foster peer based connection, survivors helping survivors, for support and encouragement along the grief journey. It is the goal of this communication to foster a safe, supportive atmosphere where we can openly share in a non-judgmental and caring manner. Read and contribute as you are comfortable, and explore any opinions/ideas shared that are most beneficial to you on your individual journey. Content submitted for inclusion in the SMM is edited for spacing considerations and grammatical corrections.  

If you ever need to speak to someone regarding an urgent matter or just need a listening ear, the loving family at TAPS is available to you 24 hours a day. Please feel free to contact TAPS at 1-800-959-8277.  

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lanechildren
Mother's Day Thoughts

~ Carol Lane, Survivor

May 8, 2016

Mother’s Day is here. This is one of those days on the grief journey that can bring up a variety of emotions. The picture is of my two children. On the left is my son, Bryon, and on the right my daughter, Bethany. One of the many things I have learned since joining TAPS is to celebrate the lives of all those we love. Take each day and enjoy the time together. This Mother’s Day, I will have lunch with my husband and daughter as we will celebrate all of our lives as well as those of Bryon and my mother who are no longer with us.  

lanemomOne of the people whose memories I ponder is that of my mother. Her name was Lillie. When the news of the attack on Pearl Harbor came to her small city in upstate New York, she decided to go into the Army having just finished her studies as a nurse. She was sent to Hawaii for the duration of the war. She was a caring person who did what she could to make those who were suffering feel supported.

After the war, she came home, married my father and I was born a few years later. It was interesting being brought up by a mother who had been in the Army. I often said she may have left the Army, but the Army never left her. She taught me how to manage my life in an orderly fashion which I still follow today. She told stories about her life while she was in service to our country and I enjoyed hearing her talk with her friends about those times. She made many friends during her service and they became her extended family. She was a strong woman who I still very much admire.

When I grew up, I married a man who had been in the Navy. We had two children. The first, a son named Bryon, joined the Marines after high school and made us very proud. We visited him when we could and enjoyed the time spent when we got together. Shortly after being transferred to North Carolina, a helicopter accident took his life. That is how I came to TAPS.  

I find that the days leading up to this special day bring on that roller coaster of emotions. Sometimes I am really up and other times I can feel down. This July will mark 16 years without Bryon. I have learned to accept the emotions. They come around those days that have unique meaning in our lives. Since I have been through this many times now, I know that when the actual day comes, I will find relief and joy when we get together. We talk about the happiness that has come into our lives because of these two special people. I also will talk about the joy that has filled my life from knowing my daughter. Each person has brought something different to me and this Sunday I will celebrate those lives.

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Thank You Mother
Saturday Morning Message: Connections with Extended Family and Friends

May 7, 2016

Good Morning,

Tomorrow is Mother's Day. Christine, mother of Adam, sent this picture of a cake topper she found last year. I thought this picture would connect nicely to the topic this week about maintaining healthy relationships with extended family and friends. In the archives of the TAPS Magazine, there is an article by Alan D. Wolfelt, Ph.D.,  titled "Helping a Grandparent Who Is Grieving."  The article sheds light on the unique grief of these members of extended families.

Personally, I was amazed at the amount of people who came to support our family when my son, Bryon, was killed. In addition to relatives, many of his Marine Corps friends came. Facebook has been the best way I have found to keep in touch with those in different parts of the country. I check my Facebook page every day. Now, in addition to those loved ones, I have added many survivors I have met through TAPS. It is the highlight of my day to check my Facebook page to see pictures and messages from those who have become close friends, and I consider them all extended family. I look forward to getting together with many of them in person for the 22nd Annual TAPS National Military Survivor Seminar and Good Grief Camp in just a few short weeks.

Sometimes it is hard to know what to do after a loved one dies. I hope the ideas written this week give helpful suggestions.

A wonderful way to keep in touch with TAPS friends is through the chat rooms provided by the Online Community. We are making the TAPS chat rooms easier to access, so starting now, here are the directions when you want to join a TAPS chat room. You can see a full schedule of upcoming chats on the TAPS website. We are adding a theme to the chats in May. We will be talking about what we are doing for Memorial Day. Of course, we will also chat about other things on survivors' minds.

Would you like to share a question or read how other survivors respond to a topic or question you have? I would love to gather some thoughts for future Saturday Morning Messages. You can also submit favorite songs that are meaningful to you. It can be helpful to read and hear how others cope. If you would like to send a message thanking one or all of those who wrote this week, send it to me and I will make sure your thoughts are passed along to them. 

In addition to the ideas shared below, we can also honor our loved ones by communicating with each other through writing. You never know how your words may touch the heart of another. I encourage you to reply to the Saturday Morning Message by emailing carol.lane@taps.org. In order to have your reply included in the week's Saturday Morning Message, it is best to send them to me by Tuesday of the following week. This week's question is located below my signature. Thank you to everyone responding this week and those who read this message. 

Hugs,
Carol

Question for Next Week's Saturday Message 

There was a question in the Saturday Morning Message earlier this year about pets and the comfort they give. A few survivors sent responses that were too late to be included in that message, so I thought I would put a similar question in this week to give others a chance to respond and also include those responses that came in late. The question for the week is: How have your pets helped comfort you on the grief journey? I look forward to your replies.

♫ Song for the Week

Thomas, father of Patrick, sent the song this week. It is quite special since it was written by Kevin Wallace. The title of the song is "Unknown Heroes." Thomas wrote, "It was written by fellow service member, Kevin Wallace, about my son and others who fought in Bala Murghab, Afghanistan. Kevin was there with them." I want to thank Thomas and also Kevin who gave his permission for me to send the lyrics to anyone who would like them. Sometimes it is better to read the words as well as listen to the music. 

Answers from Survivors

From Kellie, former spouse of Mark: After the darkness faded and the acute realization that my husband would not return after the accident, my relationships seem to change alongside this bumpy and unpredictable road of grief. I distinctly remember in pure moments of self-reflection how some of my interaction with my extended family may have been not in focus and not always truly open to how others perceived this enormous loss. I remember being very self-focused on my loss and grief without acknowledgement of my husband's family's pain. The care and compassion blossomed as I met others who have walked in similar shoes and learned together how to navigate this "new normal." I was very close with my in-laws prior to his accident. However, I always remained connected while we all journeyed through our early grief.

As time passes, his family and I and my new family have found a new, deeper connection of unified family, a special bond of respect and love for our combined loss. Love for this beautiful person comes alive when we share stories and are so fortunate to continue the journey of healing and the deeper understanding of what love is really all about as we stay connected as a family.​

Diane, mother of Caleb: I remember the first Gold Star Parent's retreat I attended here in Colorado. The speaker, a Gold Star dad, said, "Your address book will change." The retreat was six months after Caleb left this world. I hadn't been on this journey very long at that time. I had no idea what he meant, but what he said stayed with me.

It is true. I have a whole new address book. Is it sad? Years ago I would have thought it would be, but interactions with many people have changed, and it is OK. Some were not healthy relationships. Some have faded into the background for various and some unknown reasons. In the beginning it was hard, but as time has passed, I have found that I have new and wonderful relationships with some amazing people - individuals who understand this journey, people who are uplifting and caring, people who have experienced the depths of sorrow and are making a difference in this world.

Upcoming Chats

Parent Chat 
Date: Monday, May 09, 2016 
Time: 9 PM - 10:30 PM EST 
Hosted By: Carol Lane, Ron and Mary Johnson  

General Support Chat 
Date: Tuesday, May 10, 2016 
Time: 8:30 PM - 11 PM EST 
Hosted By: Carol Lane and Kim Suggs  

Widow-Widower Chat  
Date: Wednesday, May 11, 2016 
Time: 9 PM - 10:30 PM Eastern 
Hosted By: Kim Suggs  

The Saturday Morning Message (SMM) is a weekly communication; written and contributed to by survivors. The primary focus of the SMM is to foster peer based connection, survivors helping survivors, for support and encouragement along the grief journey. It is the goal of this communication to foster a safe, supportive atmosphere where we can openly share in a non-judgmental and caring manner. Read and contribute as you are comfortable, and explore any opinions/ideas shared that are most beneficial to you on your individual journey. Content submitted for inclusion in the SMM is edited for spacing considerations and grammatical corrections.  

If you ever need to speak to someone regarding an urgent matter or just need a listening ear, the loving family at TAPS is available to you 24 hours a day. Please feel free to contact TAPS at 1-800-959-8277.  

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sec60arrival
The Final Commute

~ Claire Henline, Survivor

May 5, 2016

Cinco de Mayo sings out to me though each year as the culminating date of the journey on earth with my father. Eleven years ago on the 5th of May, we took him to his final rest at Arlington National Cemetery.  Our last commute together.  I commuted all my life with my dad.  Even now I can describe for you so clear the back of his head . . . because I sat behind it for at least 16 years for miles and miles and miles . . . and miles.  A precision military haircut that ran in perfect formation around his scalp a gig above his ears.  A part so pristine straight school rulers were calibrated from it.  Sometimes I liked to get a peek of the road through his amber tinted aviators.  "For clearer vision," he told his 21 questions little navigator.   A hostage to his music choices on those rides, I've come to have a special place in my heart for Barry Manilow, The Carpenters, and (bless him), Roger Whittaker.  I mean really, my dad was an odd music niche of his Baby Boomer generation.  And oh, yes, he did sing along.

You came along just like a song, and brightened my day . . .

In the years we had together, there was the rush hour rides to day care, the Saturday morning grocery run, the Sunday drives looking for dream homes, road trips down to Florida and out to Illinois, and endless endeavors on the autobahns and really narrow country roads of Europe.  I met the world with a yellow tint through the back of my dad's head and heard it through his soundtrack.    

For you are beautiful, and I have loved you dearly,

more dearly than the spoken word can tell . . .

clairehenlinedadWe picked out my first car together; then my second, third, and fourth.  In that full circle legacy way, I started working at the Pentagon with my dad.  And so we commuted there together but as the driver, I got to pick the tunes finally.  Coldplay, Dave Matthews Band, and Kenny Chesney began to stream our drives.  We could agree on Chesney.  "Hey, CG!What's that 'C' guy's name again? Kenny Chesney, dad.  Yeah, Kenny Chesney. I like him."  In my room at night, while my dad battled his last foe below me in the dining room that we'd turned into a hospice room, his voice would carry through the grates to me as he sang Chesney's hits for comfort. It took 20 years and cancer for us to agree on music.

He smiles.....There goes my life. There goes my future, my everything.
I love you, daddy good-night . . .

But our final commute together, the soundtrack was not ours to choose.  It was one of tradition.  There I was behind my dad, viewing the sloping vistas of Arlington with the scene of his caisson drawn casket in front of me. No yellow lens to see through now.  Instead it was a pantone of red, white, and blue that colored the scene and draped him as Pershing's Own provided our cadence.  No one sang except the birds.  It was a slow, purposeful walk from Old Post Chapel to Section 60.  Over a mile of in the moment and out of body thoughts merged.  This was it, our final trip together.  And then the lone bugler called.  

God is nigh . . .

It's strange to think I am now eleven suns away from that May day.  Still commuting to work, to stores, to some great road trips in between.  I sing in the car now too . . . horribly, and I'm sorry if you're my hostage.  As I watch the road unfold and look through my own amber colored lenses (for clearer vision) I still feel my father there with me, and I'm still peskily asking, "Dad, are we there yet?"

It's yesterday once more . . .

 

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Apple - Health
Saturday Morning Message: Healthy Ways to Step Away from Grief

April 30, 2016

Good Morning,

Grief is a tiring experience. There are times when we all need to step away for a bit to regroup. The picture comes from an article in the TAPS Magazine archives titled "Grief and Your Health" by Margaret H. Gerner, MSW. In this article, the author talks about how the stress of grief can affect your health.

After reading the article, you may wonder how to reduce the stress of grief in your life. One thing that might be helpful is to make a list of the things you enjoy. They don't have to be time-consuming or costly. Something like planting your favorite flowers in pots around the house can bring great comfort. This week, survivors showed some healthy ways they take care of themselves. This may seem selfish at first, but it really isn't. It is impossible to take care of others in our lives without giving ourselves some time to relax. In that way, everyone gains support.

Since it is less than a month until the 22nd Annual TAPS National Military Seminar and Good Grief Camp, I will post the following information in the Saturday Morning Messages for the next few weeks. If you are coming, you might want to attend a workshop on Sunday, May 29, titled, "Become a Contributing Writer for TAPS Publications," given by Bevin Landrum, TAPS Magazine editor, and myself. We would love to see you there.

Would you like to share a question or read how other survivors respond to a topic or question you have? I would love to gather some thoughts for future Saturday Morning Messages. You can also submit favorite songs that are meaningful to you. It can be helpful to read and hear how others cope. If you would like to send a message thanking one or all of those who wrote this week, send it to me and I will make sure your thoughts are passed along to them.

In addition to the ideas shared below, we can also honor our loved ones by communicating with each other through writing. You never know how your words may touch the heart of another. I encourage you to reply to the Saturday Morning Message by emailing carol.lane@taps.org. In order to have your reply included in the week's Saturday Morning Message, it is best to send them to me by Tuesday of the following week. This week's question is located below my signature. Thank you to everyone responding this week and those who read this message.

Hugs,
Carol

Question for Next Week's Saturday Message

I have seen a lot of questions lately from survivors about relationships with extended family members after a loved one has passed, so I thought the question for this week could be to share what we have done to keep these relationships healthy. I look forward to reading your responses to: How have your interactions with extended family and friends changed?

♫ Song for the Week

Leslie, mother of Eugene, sent the song "Like An Angel Passing Through My Room" a while ago. The music made me sit back and just listen. The link takes you to the version Abba performed. Madonna also sang it, but it didn't make any of her albums. You can also listen to Madonna's version. Listen to both and you will hear the same orchestra music with different singers.

Answers from Survivors

From Donna, mother of Eric: It's taken some time for me to find healthy ways to handle my grief. I recently attended the Mountain Man Memorial March in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. At first, I was going just to meet some of my online Gold Star friends. Then, I decided I'd run the 10K in honor of my son. I used to do 5Ks before. Eric was the first one I'd call to tell him how much I'd improved my time. He was always very proud of me. So, in order to do a 10K in the mountains, I've spent many hours in the gym on a treadmill up on a 10 percent incline. I could feel Eric cheering me on in my mind the whole race. It was very peaceful and healing. I'm going to continue doing these 10Ks and maybe work up to a half marathon. Sometimes I cry while I'm on the treadmill, thinking of him. But, that just makes me go harder and faster to make him proud.

From Merry, mother of Wesley: Healthy, well, I need to keep motivated to continue with Curves. And I need to get back to my regular organic foods; boredom and purchasing hotel food for meetings kind of got me off track. And water! I need water! I don't drink enough. Healthy is also getting enough sleep and taking small breaks during the day to clear my mind of cobwebs. I find I get to a point where I can't really continue on unless I "regroup" for a few minutes.  

Spring is blooming, and the birds are visiting the feeders in the backyard. So simple to have, but so rewarding of the promise they bring just watching them. I planted seeds in tiny pots yesterday and will continue this weekend with starter plants. That's promising as well. The major snowfall we're experiencing is bringing major growth and major pruning. When I returned from the state conference last Sunday, I had to dig my way into my driveway to get into my garage, and a huge branch on the ash tree in the backyard just off the patio had a spiral fracture that needed pruning. I'm glad it did not fall onto the roof of my sun room.

From Mary-Ann, mother of Blake: I have found the best way to step back from the grief is to dwell on helping others and through prayer. There are so many ways you can do this, and in doing so, it makes you realize that we all have crosses to bear. Some are harder than others, but helping others eases their burden. It actually helps with your load, too! I know at first you're doing good to just crack a smile and greet someone but try, try and try again! Once you get past that, try other things like working in a soup kitchen whenever possible or paying a visit to a shut-in or a nursing home. Those elderly people that are shut in are often such a help to me and have become good friends. They are full of their life experiences and wisdom that they are happy to share with anyone who is willing to give them the time to listen. There, again, you will find you will be helping one another out!

Upcoming Chats

General Support Chat
Date: Tuesday, May 03, 2016
Time: 8:30 PM - 11 PM Eastern
Hosted By: Carol Lane and Kim Suggs

Survivors of Suicide Loss Chat 
Date: Thursday, May 05, 2016
Time: 9 PM - 11 PM Eastern
Hosted By: Carla Stumpf-Patton and Kim Suggs

The Saturday Morning Message (SMM) is a weekly communication; written and contributed to by survivors. The primary focus of the SMM is to foster peer based connection, survivors helping survivors, for support and encouragement along the grief journey. It is the goal of this communication to foster a safe, supportive atmosphere where we can openly share in a non-judgmental and caring manner. Read and contribute as you are comfortable, and explore any opinions/ideas shared that are most beneficial to you on your individual journey. Content submitted for inclusion in the SMM is edited for spacing considerations and grammatical corrections.

If you ever need to speak to someone regarding an urgent matter or just need a listening ear, the loving family at TAPS is available to you 24 hours a day. Please feel free to contact TAPS at 1-800-959-8277.

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2008 Gala - Table
Saturday Morning Message: Special Gifts

April 23, 2016

Good Morning,

A knack is a special gift that each of us has. We can share that gift with others in our daily lives, or sometimes we use it in the work we do. I chose this picture of a table setting at a past TAPS event banquet to show how these gifts can be used at work. The table is set in an inviting way and includes the red, white and blue colors to honor our loved ones. It makes survivors want to sit down and enjoy the company of others, as well as the food to come.

We can also use these gifts in hobbies or working with others in a community project. Some people are wonderful cooks, carpenters, gardeners or many different things. For some ideas about what others have done, look through previous articles in the TAPS Magazine Honoring the Fallen archive. Think about the gifts you possess.

As we work toward our new normal, it is sometimes helpful to look at the knacks we already have to see how they can be used. This week's Saturday Morning Message is about the knacks of our loved ones. Next week's question asks you to make an inventory of your talents and share with us how you use them to cope with the emotions of grief.

Thanks so much for those who responded this week and those who read the Saturday Morning Message.   If you would like to receive the Saturday Morning Message in your inbox each week, you can sign up for our email list.

Would you like to share a question or read how other survivors respond to a topic or question you have? I would love to gather some thoughts for future Saturday Morning Messages. You can also submit favorite songs that are meaningful to you. It can be helpful to read and hear how others cope. If you would like to send a message thanking one or all of those who wrote this week, send it to me and I will make sure your thoughts are passed along to them.

In addition to the ideas shared below, we can also honor our loved ones by communicating with each other through writing. You never know how your words may touch the heart of another. I encourage you to reply to the Saturday Morning Message by emailing carol.lane@taps.org. In order to have your reply included in the week's Saturday Morning Message, it is best to send them to me by Tuesday of the following week. This week's question is located below my signature. Thank you to everyone responding this week and those who read this message.

Hugs,
Carol

Question for Next Week's Saturday Message

Questions for the Saturday Morning Message come from many different places. This past weekend, I was reading the new edition of the TAPS Magazine and an idea came from reading the article by Franklin Cook, MA CPC, titled "How are Pain and Love Connected?" At the conclusion of the article, there were a group of questions. One struck me as perfect for this week in a slightly reworded form. So the question for this week is: What are healthy ways you have found that help you step back from the pain of grief? By sharing what works for us, it may give other survivors strategies to honor our loved ones while working on our own healing. In that way, readers can decide what might work for them. We can walk this journey together, and together we can heal.

♫ Song for the Week

Nikki, sister of Chad, sent the song for this week. She wrote, "A  song I like to hear is "When I'm Gone" by 3 Doors Down. It takes me back to the summer my life changed completely and my brother wasn't coming back. I miss him so much."

Answers from Survivors

From Leslie, mother of Eugene: My son had a knack for doing the strangest things in the math/science field. He was hard to buy toys or things for because they had to be complicated. He could take Legos or an Erector set and create the unimaginable. I remember my dad bought him something that looked like a slide ruler from the Museum of Modern Art when he was 7. My dad told him it would take weeks to figure out how to turn the parts to get it to slide out. About 10 minutes later you hear, "Like this, Grandpa?" My dad asked him how he did it, and Gene told him it was the binary code. And that is why the Navy discovered his talents for intelligence work!

From Annette, mother of Joseph: Joe had a knack with people. He loved to talk to people, and be it a 5-year-old or a 90-year-old, he would strike up a conversation. When he passed, one of my friends remarked that he knew Joe for a shorter period of time than most of his friend's kids, but he knew more about him and had spoken to him longer than any of the others. If we had a gathering of all my friends and Joe was home, you would see him engaged in a long discussion with one of the guests. He loved people and had a special kindness. If he went to a Rotary Club meeting with his dad, the members were in love with him and made him an honorary member. On his trip to Mexico with his girlfriend, they were having dinner and there was an older lady dining by herself at the next table. Joe invited her to join them. He loved people, loved to help anyone and, in return, was loved by all.

From Diane, mother of Caleb: Caleb had a knack for doing everything! He was wonderful. If it was broken, he could fix it. He was very good at woodworking and building things. He was always that helper when he came home. If he saw something that needed to be done, he'd just do it.

He also had a knack for making people feel at ease like they'd known him forever. He was a trustworthy, faithful friend and had a knack for making people laugh. I miss him so much. I look at his life and see so much wisdom. I want to be like my son.

Upcoming Chats                                                                                                                

General Support Chat 
Date: Tuesday, April 26, 2016
Time: 8:30 PM - 11 PM Eastern
Hosted By: Carol Lane and Kim Suggs
 

Survivors of Illness Loss Chat 
Date: Wednesday, April 27, 2016
Time: 1 PM - 2:30 PM Eastern
Hosted By: Kellie Hazlett

The Saturday Morning Message (SMM) is a weekly communication; written and contributed to by survivors. The primary focus of the SMM is to foster peer based connection, survivors helping survivors, for support and encouragement along the grief journey. It is the goal of this communication to foster a safe, supportive atmosphere where we can openly share in a non-judgmental and caring manner. Read and contribute as you are comfortable, and explore any opinions/ideas shared that are most beneficial to you on your individual journey. Content submitted for inclusion in the SMM is edited for spacing considerations and grammatical corrections.

If you ever need to speak to someone regarding an urgent matter or just need a listening ear, the loving family at TAPS is available to you 24 hours a day. Please feel free to contact TAPS at 1-800-959-8277.

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Man in the Fog
Saturday Morning Message: Coping with Lack of Concentration

April 16, 2016

Good Morning,

This week's message centers around understanding the loss of concentration when grieving and the strategies other survivors use to cope. One thing that helped me was to buy a package of sticky notes. I put one task for the day on each individual note. Then I laid them on the kitchen counter in the order they needed to be done. When I finished one, I threw it away or put it in the recycling box. I liked this system because I could change the order quickly. If I didn't finish a task, I just put it at the front of the next day's  stack.

I still use a small notebook to list the important tasks of the day. I check off each as it is completed, and that keeps me on track. An important thing to remember is that lack of concentration is something common in all grievers.

A previous article in the TAPS Magazine called "The Fog of Grief: When Will It Lift?," by Betsy Beard, surviving mom of Spc. Bradley S. Beard, includes thoughts from many different survivors on this topic. In the article, there is a short list of strategies to "remind yourself that your brain fog is normal for your situation."

The strategies include:

  • Lower your expectations of what you can accomplish these days.
  • Divide tasks into smaller increments and adjust your goals.
  • Give yourself extra time for getting ready for events.
  • Start slowly to rebuild a daily routine that will give you new habits.
  • Review your lists at the beginning of the day and as often as needed.
  • Above all, be patient with yourself.

I hope this article, along with the creative suggestions sent in by survivors this week, will help with your concentration. Remember to choose an approach you like. These are just suggestions.

Would you like to share a question or read how other survivors respond to a topic or question you have? I would love to gather some thoughts for future Saturday Morning Messages. You can also submit favorite songs that are meaningful to you. It can be helpful to read and hear how others cope. If you would like to send a message thanking one or all of those who wrote this week, send it to me and I will make sure your thoughts are passed along to them.

In addition to the ideas shared below, we can also honor our loved ones by communicating with each other through writing. You never know how your words may touch the heart of another. I encourage you to reply to the Saturday Morning Message by emailing carol.lane@taps.org. In order to have your reply included in the week's Saturday Morning Message, it is best to send them to me by Tuesday of the following week. This week's question is located below my signature. Thank you to everyone responding this week and those who read this message.

Hugs,
Carol

Question for Next Week's Saturday Message 

It is always interesting to share memories of  our loved ones, and we haven't had a question related to that for quite a while, so the question this week is: Did your loved one have a knack for doing something? I look forward to reading your replies.

Song for the Week

Since Ginny, mother of Patrick, sent in the question about concentration, I thought it would be appropriate to share the song she sent, which is "You Should Be Here" by Cole Swindell. Ginny shared why this song is meaningful to her, "There are so many times I had wished Pat could have been with us for special events. So many things I wish I could share with him. Pat was famous for his 'rants,' his wild commentary on life!  As crazy as the world is now, I would love to hear what he would have said. He was always so politically incorrect, so irreverent, often times shocking, but at the same time so funny, logical and usually right! How I miss those rants!"

Answers from Survivors

From Merry, mother of Wes: Looking back over the last three and a half years, bringing back memory and the ability to concentrate is really a long, rough road. Starting my grief process, it was all about getting through my day, contacting at least one friend daily just to check in, maybe going grocery shopping, going to church if it was Sunday or to choir practice on a weekday evening and then to Daughters of the American Revolution meetings once a month. My routine was very limited and very small. I'm just about to throw away the loveseat on which I spent the first year sitting, sleeping and eating. It's a disaster.

I would love to see a study on the brain and if scans would show a "shutting down" of parts of the brain so the mind can remain safe and then begin to heal. Unfortunately, one would have to begin that study in the throes of deep, deep grief.  

In the past six months, I have begun to create clothing again in my sewing studio. My mind can grasp what I want to do and not get exhausted in one hour, and now I can be creative for four to six hours. I'm beginning to "see" what needs to be done in my house to give it the TLC it has not had for three years and to throw out, store, give away or continue to use items that have collected dust.  

Yesterday, I was sitting on my patio in the sun, for the 10 minutes-per-day routine, and I was thinking that, yes, I do remember this horrendous event of losing Wes - how I was informed, how very sad it continues to be - but yet somehow I've moved into, not moved on to, interests that take me into my life before I lost him. The expression "moving on" suggests we forget our loved ones. Not so. We can never forget. We just, by God's grace and a lot of hard work, pass into a new path of surviving life and facing all of it. It is scary at times, very scary.

From Rebecca, mother of Griff: Do only one thing at a time. Don't believe in multitasking. It means starting a bunch of things and not finishing anything. It also adds panic and stress to me. Do a monthly list of bills that need to be paid and things that regularly need to be done. Then I put the dates that I do them beside each item. Use a real calendar with squares to write appointments or other things with times on there. Also, use the TV for sound in the house. Quiet makes doing things harder for me.

From Leslie, mother of Eugene: Allow yourself the idea that some days it is difficult to concentrate when you have thoughts of your loved one. This is going to sound way out there, but I find, for me, it works. Have a conversation with your loved one explaining you have to get xyz done and you will get back with them later. Do whatever, even if it is a full day at work. When you have quiet time, let them back in your head.  

Upcoming Chats

General Support Chat 
Date: Tuesday, April 19, 2016 
Time: 8:30 PM - 11 PM EST 
Hosted By: Carol Lane and Kim Suggs

Survivors of Suicide Loss Chat  
Date: Thursday, April 21, 2016 
Time: 9 PM - 11 PM Eastern 
Hosted By: Carla Stumpf-Patton and Kim Suggs

The Saturday Morning Message (SMM) is a weekly communication; written and contributed to by survivors. The primary focus of the SMM is to foster peer based connection, survivors helping survivors, for support and encouragement along the grief journey. It is the goal of this communication to foster a safe, supportive atmosphere where we can openly share in a non-judgmental and caring manner. Read and contribute as you are comfortable, and explore any opinions/ideas shared that are most beneficial to you on your individual journey. Content submitted for inclusion in the SMM is edited for spacing considerations and grammatical corrections.

If you ever need to speak to someone regarding an urgent matter or just need a listening ear, the loving family at TAPS is available to you 24 hours a day. Please feel free to contact TAPS at1-800-959-8277. 

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linda
Facing My Fears On Heartbreak Hill

~ Linda Ambard , Survivor

April 15, 2016

The Boston Marathon is going to be my 100th marathon on April 18th.  It was never supposed to be my 100th marathon because 100 marathons is usually a time where people come and celebrate the milestone.  My 100th marathon was supposed to be about finishing the Bucket List I had when Phil was killed and starting a new Bucket List for the next chapter in my life.  I figured five years would be time enough to be ready to close one chapter and start another.  Instead, the five years has taught me untold lessons.

I have learned I will be afraid.  I thought Phil was safe as an officer/Advisor working with the Afghan officer.  I thought running marathons was safe until 2013.  I learned how wrong I could be in my assumptions life is always fair.  I am not the same person I once was.  I am afraid of unseen monsters, booms, guns, and a certain finish line I hope to cross on Marathon Monday.  I can’t control the fears and the nightmares are starting to catch me unexpectedly. I know if I keep my eyes focused on the step ahead, breathe, and concentrate on the people waiting for me at the finish line, I can push through my fears to perform.  While that is not exactly the way a celebration is supposed to play out, it will be a moral victory to finish that race upright.

I have learned I will hurt.  Grief hurts on every level.  Heartbreak Hill is the perfect metaphor for grief.  A marathon is 26.2 miles.  There is never a race where I think I have the 26.2 miles in the basket.  During every race, there comes a time when the thought will cross my mind I am done and want to quit.  I know I will hurt more the next day and the day afterwards, but I also know if I concentrate on just the step ahead, I can push through the pain and get to the finish line one minute at a time, one hour at a time, one mile at a time, one marathon at a time.  Yes, it is going to hurt, but by only looking at the step ahead, I can make it through to the end.  A fallen step forward is still a step forward.  While marathon 100 will be a bunch of fallen steps forward, I will crawl to the end if need be.

I will learn my life isn’t over.  Five years ago, I had run 38 marathons.  Now the past 61 marathons have showed me I am alive.  For a long time, I wanted to crawl into a corner, curl up and die.  That didn’t happen.  Running was just a way to get our of the house and feel pain separate from grieving….and, then it became about something else.  It became about the changing Linda and the new hopes, new dreams, and even something I could never have imagined five years ago—something would have made me recoil and sprint away from.  Running became the conduit for me to meet someone who makes me think past running races to the thought of what comes after the 26.2—or the 26.3 marker.

Marathon 100 is the closing of one chapter and the start of a a new chapter.  While surely there will be tears and fears as I press toward the Boston Marathon finish line, it’s all a part of my hard fought for journey.  Marathon 100 can be about surviving the Heartbreak Hill of life and pushing through my fear to take back my life one step at a time.  I may fall and I may cower in fear, but I am going to get it done.  Along the way, I know people will be waiting to offer that soft place to fall and lean.  Marathon 100, then, has become a celebration of my life, my awakening heart, and the recognition that by stepping or falling forward, I am moving forward while at the same time honoring the past that shaped me into the girl I am now.  I am a fierce warrior ready to take on Boston. 

 

This blog is copyrighted by the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS). These blog posts may not be reproduced in whole or in part by any means, electronic or otherwise, without prior written approval. It is permissible for an individual reader to view, reproduce or store a copy of this article, provided it is used only for their own personal and non-commercial use. Uses beyond that allowed by the “Fair Use” limitations (sections 107 and 108) of the U.S. Copyright law require permission from TAPS. Please contact blog@taps.org to request permission. All other rights reserved.

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