Mary-Ann’s question last week about premonitions brought different responses from the survivors who wrote back. Premonitions are something that some people have and others don’t. Several survivors wrote to tell me that they didn’t have any idea that their loved one was going to die. As we have said before, each person experiences this tragedy differently and all experiences are “normal”. We navigate this journey together.
Donna’s reply is not about a premonition, but I thought it was a lovely story about butterflies, so I included it this week. Also, you may notice that the message is a bit shorter this week. Since there were so many replies, I posted half of them this week and next week the other half will be displayed, so there is still time to have your response added if you haven’t sent it in already.
Carol, surviving mom of Bryon
From Donna, mother of Eric:
There are a few trinkets he (Eric) gave me throughout the years for birthdays and mother’s day that I loved, but mean so much more now. Even though I was very into dragonflies back then, he always got me butterfly jewelry. One of the last photos we have of him is in the deserts of Afghanistan, nothing but sand, and somehow a butterfly came out of nowhere and could sense his kind soul and landed on him. We have no idea where it could have possibly come from, but this is THE picture for us. And funny how he always bought me butterflies instead of dragonflies.
From Debbie, proud Mom of Richard:
I had gone to Missouri to see Richard as he was on two weeks block leave prior to deployment to Afghanistan and he was at his wife Hannah's parents’ home. Hannah's parents asked if I would come and stay and that we would celebrate Thanksgiving two weeks early so that Richard could have Thanksgiving with family. Richard and I had gone out to walk his two dogs and we went on a long walk and talked a long time and as we were walking back into the house, I had this feeling wash over me that this would be the last time that I would see my son alive. That was the week before he left to go back to Alaska. I told a friend when I got back home about the feeling I had and she said, “Don't say anything like that”. It was a feeling that I could not shake. Then on May 11, 2012, my son called and spoke to his wife and he told her that we didn't think he was going to come back from deployment alive. She was eight months pregnant with Ella. Richard was killed two days later on Mothers’ Day 2012.
From Pam, Joe’s Mom:
I did have a premonition that something was going to happen. I haven't told anyone about this. As I was leaving church the Sunday before Joe was killed, an owl flew by me and landed on the tree next to me. One of the girls I was walking with said, "Doesn't that mean something?" and I replied, "Yes, it means someone is going to die”. Why I said that I have no idea as I had never heard of that before but it just came out of my mouth like it was something I've known forever. I had a creepy feeling all the rest of that day. Joe called his wife the morning before he was killed. It was her birthday. I told him to be careful and to use his sixth sense. If it didn't feel right, it isn’t. The stryker unit he was driving hit an IED and he was killed instantly. His Sgt. told me that Joe had said, "It doesn’t feel right, Sgt. I’m not liking this" and Sgt. told him not to worry, he had him covered and then they hit it.
From Kelli, surviving mother of Dylan:
When he died I was shopping for Halloween decorations for our haunted house, everything seemed so normal, so every day. I didn't think twice when in my mind I heard Dylan call for Ma. When the soldiers showed up at our door I really had no idea that is was Dylan they came about. My oldest son was also Army. He was my first thought. I can still hear the soldier telling us about Dylan, I can still remember everything as if it were yesterday. I still hear Dylan calling out. That voice and those words will haunt me forever.
From Susan, surviving Mother of Ryley:
About two weeks before Ryley deployed I was dreaming about something related to my office work and Ryley's face appeared looking just the way he did when he left for boot camp. I said my usual "Hi Honey, what’s going on?" Ryley replied, "What did you think was going to happen?" I sat straight up in bed and decided I would not tell anyone about it because I didn't want it to be true.
From Cindy, surviving spouse of Terry:
Even before my husband deployed I had uncomfortable feelings but I chalked it off to normal concerns for his safety while he was gone. I kept having these thoughts/dreams about what would I do if I wound up alone, but I thought it was anxiety about facing an empty nest alone since our last two children were going off to college and he would still be deployed. Worst of all I had these dreams or visions of walking behind a caisson. That was the scariest thing and I kept telling myself to stop because I was going to drive myself crazy with worry. Little did I know then. I never mentioned it to my husband, because I didn't want him to worry. The day he died (Afghanistan time), I remember wondering why I hadn't heard from him. We exchanged emails every day except for when he traveled, but he didn't tell me he was traveling. When I went to bed that night I felt strange. Although I didn't sleep well since he left and woke up frequently, this night I woke up at 3:30 a.m. feeling as though I was being crushed. I woke up before my alarm at 5 a.m. When the doorbell rang at 5:15 a.m. my heart was racing, but strangely I seemed to know who it was. As I approached the door, I could see the shadow of a beret through the window on the side of the door. My world came crashing down that day. Some days I feel like he is still deployed and this was all just a nightmare.