There are special days and weeks that everyone waits for with eagerness and great memories that happen in those times and dates. Speed week, Spring break, the whole holiday season, it’s normal and until a few years ago, I looked forward to some of these same things. That’s part of the whole human experience I guess.
The “new normal” has changed things for all of us “Gold Star” people I guess. I would not really speak for others who all walk the trail but speaking personally there really is no season or days that I really can honestly say that I look forward to like others do. That may be pretty sad for most people, but it’s really the way that I feel.
The week I’m referring to is February 24th – March 4th I guess technically it’s more than a week, but you get the idea. From the knock on the door until my son’s funeral is a period of time that for me doesn’t seem like it will ever get easier. This year was probably tougher than the last as there were a few things happening that never did before.
This week we got interviewed for a PBS special about the whole gold star experience. The two guys who came down to shoot and interview us were top notch and I felt comfortable pretty soon after we started talking. We went out to the cemetery and they shot some footage. I don’t like going to the cemetery because frankly, I don’t really think of my son as being there. Every once in a while I will go out to the grave alone and reflect and focus on things and have more or less some quiet time.
The interview was not too bad, the interviewer asked some questions and the responses were pretty easy as they are all stored where they are easy to get to. There was one question that I had a hard timing finding the answer too… “Name something funny that Micheal did”. I had to really try and separate all of the silly and funny things he did constantly and got a massive “brain cramp” and really couldn’t come up with anything.
The rest of the interview was OK, but I found myself starting to crack when I was describing the day that we got Micheal home. Wow… it is a lot easier to write down than to talk to an interviewer about. If you ever get to see the special, I know you’ll hear it in my voice… the tears in the eyes of the interviewer didn’t really help. (Just kidding interviewer dude)
My wife did the next interview and I had to go out into the back yard and unwind… I didn’t want to distract them and I needed a break. A few adult beverages and a nice chat with one of Micheal’s platoon members. We went back inside and it was his turn in the hot seat. It was great to hear his accounts of my son’s antics, his soldering and of course the account of his last day. They all thought that when Micheal was flown out, he was on his way to get fixed … sadly, by the time they got back to their barracks; all of my son’s effects were gone… I’m sure that was horrible as anything else that day. It was probably not much longer until we got the news that they already knew.
Thank you Ryan, for being there that day… and with us the whole week.