I’m settling back into home now…I haven’t unpacked a thing and still don’t plan to for a while…little by little, taking the time to piece apart the amazing memories we made on this vacation. Looking back I didn’t realize just how much I really needed to get away for a while, to escape the haunting memories of us in this house. Walking in today was overwhelming, I could still smell you home, could still feel you home…but instead of a haunting dwell come over me I embraced it…slowly brought in our suitcases and just listened quietly to being back home. I made a quick list of some things I want to get done during the summer. The most difficult part of this whole experience is about to begin and I feel re-charged and ready…I can feel my strength rebuilt and know that whatever the future holds…I can face it now.
The second we arrived to our brother’s house our family picture fell off its hook….we all knew it was you there with us. It was breath taking and emotional, but I felt better knowing that leaving was the best decision I made. Throughout the entire trip there were other little signs that you were near…like finding a 4 leaf clover or a baby lady bug landing on Johnathan…and if we didn’t find you we sought you out and looked for you…like by free falling 40 stories high at Magic Mountain…because that’s what Josh would do…so we have to do it too!
First, U2 The Joshua Tree Tour was like a gospel, it was moving, it was magical and I’m pretty sure I cried during the entire concert…the concert of a lifetime and it couldn’t have been more perfectly timed. It was just what we needed to feel you again. I can’t believe we took Isabella, I was nervously looking around praying I would see another baby in the crowd…thinking to myself, “Am I crazy bringing my 1 year old to a rock concert”…duh! Yes I am. But my brother reminded me that it doesn’t matter what anything thinks, they don’t know our story or why we’re here…true, I felt better. Luckily…two seats behind me a young couple sat down with their son who looked to be the same age as Isabella. We joked that we had to buy these kids a concert ticket when they most likely would just sit in our lap. Both us moms were relieved we weren’t the only ones with our littles….security even handed us ear plugs. Isabella slept throughout the concert; Johnathan screamed when the giant Joshua Tree lit up and the song, “Where the Streets Have No Name” started playing. He screamed, “MOM IT’S THE JOSHUA TREE, THE ALBUM IS STARTING!!!!” He knew the words to every song, he sang along, danced, and we held hand’s, hugged and cried when “I still haven’t found what I’m looking for” came on…reminding us of your funeral. I will never forget that night for as long as I live.
Memorial Day came and I was glad I was away from home and somewhere I felt safe and hidden. I was afraid that by the end of the day I would be a sobbing ball of mess…but then we found out your scholarship hit it’s goal! On Memorial Day! What a great day to commemorate. It could have easily been an emotional day, but that made it much better and tolerable! I feel so relieved still and can’t wait to begin brainstorm the next goals of our organization.
I even took Johnathan to Camp Pendleton…to walk in the water at Oceanside. He was very inquisitive about your time in this area; “what did dad do here in the Marines?” “did he come to this beach?” “did he eat at this restaurant too?” “did he drive on this road too?”…..I’m forever grateful that we got to meet your friend, someone that you spoke of often, someone that supported you too…you bought him a gift back in October-November..I remember you calling me to work and telling me you needed to get him a gift and you needed my card because you lost yours. I remember you ordered yourself one too! You had a plan. You never got to mail it to him for Christmas like you wanted to…So I hand delivered it. Johnathan walked away happy knowing he got to meet a friend from your past….a daddy he had only heard stories of was now in the present standing next to him. We spent the rest of our trip relaxing, eating out, reading books, telling stories….
When the time came to leave…I drove all the way back to New Mexico listening to Ariana Grande’s One Love convert for Manchester on Sirius. I think I cried all the way from Phoenix to NM. I learned a lot from that concert, a lot about perseverance and hope. I heard the sentiments of strength and it made me hopeful for our future as well. My biggest fear is that I will fall a victim to this tragedy; because this isn’t my tragedy it was yours and I want to make your story better than that, you deserve better than that kind of an ending, you deserve an ending of hope and motivation for other’s regardless of how your life ended. This isn’t my story I’m trying to teach from…it’s yours. As much as I wish…and sometimes want…I can’t and won’t let this tragedy take over me. I’m often told “I don’t know how you’re doing this?” I don’t know either, but I do know I don’t have a choice…..because #1. I have our children who need me. #2. This was horrific, it was awful, I was there, I heard it, I saw it, it was traumatizing – your death; but it was your death, your tragedy and that’s what aches me, that I couldn’t save you from it. #3. I have your story to finish.
I can barely keep up…
I love you, I miss you, I want you home