It all started on a Friday morning. October 17, 2008. Everything started out normal, the way that it was supposed to. He left for work around 0500, came in and gave me a kiss like he always did before he left. About half an hour later, he text me after getting onto base and getting his monster to let me know the gas price on base, it was the typical thing as this was when gas prices were ridiculous. I woke up, looked at it and went back to bed.
Around 0700, the knocking started. I woke up and looked at the clock, knew I wasn’t expecting anybody and told myself forget it. I had to get up in about 3 hours to start getting ready for work and I wasn’t getting out of bed before that because I still didn’t feel well. But whoever was at the door continued knocking. After about 15 minutes or so, I finally got up because they weren’t going away. I looked out the peep hole and saw three guys all in ACUs standing outside of my door. The First Sergeant and Lieutenant of the unit were the two that I recognized. I opened the door, confused as to what was going on. That’s when they told me that Clint had been involved in an accident and was at Madigan in surgery. That’s all they told me. So I figured ok, he was on his way to work and got into an accident. I called my mom quick to let her know I was on my way to the hospital because there was an accident and I’d let her know more when I did. I threw on a coat and left with them, still in pajamas.
It wasn’t until we were on our way to Ft. Lewis, during morning rush, that they told me it wasn’t a vehicle accident. They told me that Clint had been directing traffic by their motor pool to get the trucks across to the range they were going to for the day. This is around about 0630. Another soldier, on his way to PT, didn’t see him standing in the road and hit him. Clint flew up into the air and then about 35 feet forward. The driver of their truck had noticed the oncoming truck wasn’t stopping and was trying to yell to Clint; Clint had turned to look at him and step out of the way when he was struck. One of the guys from his unit jumped out of the truck and started to perform CPR on him as his heart had stopped and he wasn’t breathing. When the ambulance got there, they had to perform CPR 2 more times during the short drive from the accident scene and the hospital.
Just as we got to the hospital, around 0830, Clint had just gotten out of surgery. They had me wait for what seemed like forever before anybody came to talk to me. When they finally did, all they would say was that he had internal bleeding which they were trying to stop and they needed to take him to get a CT of his brain to see if there was any damage, but they wouldn’t be able to do that until he was stabilized. I think it was close to an hour before they let me go in to see him for the first time. And the head nurse had to come out to prepare me for it first. Worst part of all, I was only able to stay in the room for maybe a minute before they were pulling me out of the entire ICU area. There were updates here and there, basically just to tell me that they were taking him back to surgery or bringing him back. At one point, things seemed somewhat brighter, like they were under control. I was able to go back and see him for another few minutes and then whisked out again. At one point, somebody called some of our friends up to be with me. Around 1300, I was allowed to go back by him once again. Things were more low-key, but they still wouldn’t let me in by him for more than a few minutes. I remember them pulling me out again and into the hallway before you walk into the ICU and I just couldn’t handle it anymore. I hated seeing him the way that he was, I hated that they wouldn’t let me by him for more than a few minutes, I hated it all. People were trying to get me off of the floor and into a waiting room when they came back out to tell me that I needed to go back in by him, things changed that fast. There was nothing else that they could do for him. In less than 5 minutes there was what seemed like 20 people around him and they had taken him off of all machines and they were doing his breathing for him. Everybody started to clear out once I walked in and that was it, they all just left him. That was the longest amount of time I was allowed to spend with him that day. Twenty minutes I was in with him, holding him while he tried to take his last breath.
Never did I imagine that I would hold my husband as he took his last breath at 21 years old. I’m thankful I was given the 15 months with him that I had, but it wasn’t long enough. I never realized how important the people who were my friends, my Army friends, would really be in my life. They weren’t my friends, they were, and still almost 6 years later are my family. They were the ones who held me up, literally, and the ones who stuck there with me all along.