Introducing Michele Marcum
Author: Michele Hiester Marcum
I am Michele. And I am a survivor. My story mirrors that of every other TAPS survivor. The plot is the same, the ending ultimately identical, the tone oppressing. And there is no "happily ever after." Someone I love died, and I'm writing my way through the grief and tears in the hope that healing sneaks its way in.
I became a bona fide TAPS card-carrying member after my brother, MSGT Michael T. Hiester, encountered a landmine near Kabul, Afghanistan on March 26, 2005. Thus, my journey with grief began, without my permission.
Michael was 17 months younger than I and was everything I wasn't. He was also everything I hoped to be. Alternately friend and foe, we grew up in a small community, with home-grown values and lofty dreams. We loved each other deeply, but our competitive nature frequently camouflaged that bond. Love and loathing share a narrow spectrum during adolescence, and I'm thankful maturity arrived when it did. Wasted time can never be recovered.
Such wisdom comes with a price. And that price is more than I, like many of you reading this, ever fathomed paying. Who I have become is defined as much by Michael's death, as it is by the life he lived. Who I am now is not who I used to be. And who I will be is not who I might have been. Death changes everything. And it makes the "once upon a time" all the more significant.
I've been on this path for seven years now, and I'm a testament that healing is hard work. It's an inside-out process. If you ask me how I am, I'll tell you I'm fine. And some day, I believe that will be true.
Until then... I'm just me. The new me. I crave simplicity and savor the memories that come knocking. I am a list-maker, thought-catcher, photo-taker. I cling to my faith, embrace my family, and search for life's silver linings. I believe in miracles, second chances, and forgiveness. And I miss my brother more than I can ever explain.