As many of you may now know, we recently had several Marines make the ultimate sacrifice while doing what most people in this country are not brave enough to do. Six members of HMH-363 stationed in Hawaii died on Thursday when their helicopter went down. They will forever be remembered in the hearts and minds of Marines around the world.
These are obviously not the first causalities of this war. And unfortunately, they will not be the last. But it is the first time that the loss of Marines has hit so close to home. I hadn’t heard from my husband during the usual time he emails or Skypes, so I figured that he was busy. They are still getting settled and I know they have alot going on. I awoke in the middle of the night, expecting to see an email on my phone and when I didn’t I started to scour the news. I knew something had to have happened; that their outside communications were blacked out for a reason. I couldn’t find anything at that point so I figured I would surely have an email from him by the morning.
When my beautiful daughter decided to wake up bright and early at 5:30am and I still didn’t have an email from him, worry began to set in. The day passed by and still, nothing. With every car that pulled into our col-de-sac I glanced outside to see if it was stopping in front of our house, fearing that I would see two Marines in their Alphas walking my way. I finally found the terrible news that we had lost six Marines to a helicopter crash. I knew my husband wasn’t on a helicopter that day, so a flood of relief came washing over me. And then, instantly, I felt guilty.
Somewhere, someplace, a spouse was grieving the loss of their other half. They had answered their door that day, expecting maybe the UPS guy dropping off a package and instead saw the worst thing a spouse can see- two Marines at her doorstep holding a letter from the President. Somewhere, someplace, a mother was telling her daughter that her daddy would never get to walk her down the aisle; a mother was telling her son that his daddy won’t be able to teach him how to throw a football this summer. Somewhere, someplace, parents were coming to grips with the idea of burying their child. And there I was, sitting on my couch, feeling relieved that it wasn’t me dealing with the pain.
Relief is a natural feeling after you find out that a loved one is safe and I realize that. But the guilt, that was a new feeling. I had read stories of Marines and soldiers losing their lives in battles. My brother, a Major in the Army, has lost comrades and brothers in his unit and although that was heartbreaking and terrifying, the sadness has never hit me this hard.
I guess its because this time my husband is there. It is a very real possibility that something could happen to him. He is in a war zone and although I want to believe its safe and secure, its still a very real threat. During his last deployment I didn’t experience this kind of fear because most of the time he was on the ship, and when he was docked he only spent a short time ashore. This is a new fear for me, and one that will now haunt me the rest of these months because this tragedy happened so soon into his stay there.
One of my girlfriends who is also documenting her experience with deployment, said this on her blog after hearing the news: “[My heart] hurts for the families of these marines that won’t be coming home to them in the way that plays out in daydreams everyday.” Just like us, these families said goodbye to their loved ones, assuming that they would see them again. They probably did the same thing I do almost every day: pictured their homecomings and maybe even thought about how they were going to decorate their homecoming banner, the wife thinking about what dress she was going to wear, the kids imagining their dad walking through that airplane hanger and running up to him to give him a huge bear hug. We do so many things to prepare for our Marines to come home, and to have that ripped away from us in a heartbeat…unfathomable.
My heart literally aches for these families. I heard a song on the radio today on the Christian station I listen to. Its called Strong Enough by Matthew West. Although it was originally written for the families devastated by the tornadoes this past year, it made me think of how strong these families have to be to endure such pain:
You must think I’m strong
To give me what I’m going through
Well, forgive me
Forgive me if I’m wrong
But this looks like more than I can do
On my own
I know I’m not strong enough to be everything that I’m supposed to be
I give up
I’m not strong enough
Hands of mercy won’t you cover me Lord right now
I’m asking you to be Strong enough Strong enough
For the both of us
I hope that they find strength in God as they struggle through this time of grief and pain. Please pray for the families of HMH-363 and all of our loved ones who are deployed and in harms way.