November 6th, 2009
This Friday morning started out… off, weird, different. Michael would always always always wake me up in the morning to kiss me goodbye and to tell me to have a good day and that he loved me. This morning, he didn’t. I woke up feeling weird. Why didn’t he kiss me?
I got up and started to get ready. That morning I was scheduled to go into work for a couple of hours to make phone calls to previous patients to schedule their annual eye exam. I was good at getting people to return to our office, so it was normal for me to go in for a couple of hours in the morning before school to make phone calls. Friday’s were different, I didn’t have school. I had made arrangements to meet up afterward with an old friend to catch up.
As I was getting ready to go to work, I got out of the shower and went into our room. I walked into our master bathroom (we always showered in our spare bathroom, it was bigger and more awesome) and I looked in the mirror and I saw Michael behind me smiling. I screamed bloody murder! He scared the crap out of me! Not only did he creep into the apartment without me or the dogs hearing anything, but he managed to strip down to nothing and he was staring at me in the mirror with a huge grin on his face, waiting for me to notice him. We both crack up and he hugged and kissed me. I asked him why he didn’t kiss me before he left. He said that he got up early to PT with his Marines and that he did not want to wake me.
Watching the clock, I continued to get ready and Michael jumped into the shower. I got dressed and I went into the bathroom that he is showering in to do my makeup. When I’m finished, I told him that I am leaving. At this point I was running late. Michael opened up the shower curtain and he’s running down the list of questions -
“What time do you get off work?”
“What are you doing afterward?”
“Are you still meeting up with Tarra?”, he asked. “Yes, Michael, I am still meeting up with her”, I replied. He smiled and said, “I wouldn’t be friends with her again, she’s fucking crazy”. I laughed and said, “Ok, Michael, we’ll see”.
We kissed and we hugged (yes, we hug, yes, I got wet). I went to work. When I got there, I text him to ask him if he’s still home. Yes, he’s still home. I asked him if he can feed the dogs, I forgot to feed them. A few more texts were exchanged, even a couple of short phone calls too. And of course, One more set of “I love you’s”.
I got off of work a little later than I expected, at 12. I called my friend to let her know that I’ll be late, she was running late too, so it was ok. We planned to meet at a mall that is pretty much half way in between our place and hers. I got there a little sooner than I was supposed to - which was fine because if you’re not early, you’re late (right?). I found the place of where we were meeting - Panera Bread. I went to the restroom, then I decided to go out into the mall to wait for her. I saw her walking up. But she’s was on the phone and she looked pretty tense. I stood there for about another 2 - 3 minutes while she was still on the phone. I figured out that it’s one of our mutual friends. But there was a problem. But she didn’t really tell me what’s going on. She just says that “Vanesia said that there was an accident and you need to call Michael”. I was thinking “why would I need to call Michael, if Vanesia’s husband was in an accident?!”. So I called Michael. No answer. Things started to whirl around me. I started to freak out. I demanded that she tell me what Vanesia said. She couldn’t give me an answer because she said that Vanesia was hysterically upset and she couldn’t understand a word she said. She got on the phone again with Vanesia. As she was trying to get an answer out of her, she told me to call Aaron, Vanesia’s husband, one of Michael’s best friends, the guy he used to go out with and try to pick up girls with during MOS school. It was like the pieces were slowly starting to fall into place. It was like a stage with a whole lot of people standing on it in a room where the lights start to go down and the only light left on is this huge spot light and it’s only hitting one person - me - but all in slow motion.
I called Aaron, he refused to tell me what was going on. He told me that I needed to call Sgt. Beller. I called her. But I had the wrong phone number. I tried to call her again. Nothing. I called Michael’s office. Nothing. I called Aaron again. At this point I am shaking uncontrollably, I am short of breath, and I have tears in my eyes. I have no clue what was going on, but I knew something bad had happened. I got Aaron on the phone again and this time, I demanded to know what was going on. I can tell by the tone of his voice that he is really upset. He says in a shaky voice “Allison, Michael was killed in an accident on his way to work”. I lost it. I start screaming “WHAT!? WHAT?! WHAT?!?”. I’m still in the mall and at this point we are heading towards the door out to the parking lot. It couldn’t be true. How could this have happened?! He’s home. He came home from two deployments, this isn’t possible. He’s supposed to be safe!
I hung up on Aaron. I had no clue what to do. I knew that I needed to talk to someone who knew what was actually going on because this wasn’t real. This didn’t happen. I needed someone to apologize to me for mixing things up and having the wrong Marine. I started to rush through old emails to find an email from our FRO (family readiness officer). She always attached her number to the end of her emails. I called her. She answered her cell phone. I said “I’m Sgt. Michael Martins wife and I just received a phone call saying that my husband was killed”. She very apologetically says that she was sorry that I found out this way, and she hands the phone to Michael’s First Sergeant. He explains to me that they were forming a CACO team and they were on the way to my house. No - this isn’t happening. He said that Michael was at the hospital that they could either meet me there, or meet me at my house. I had no clue where the hospital was so I said that they should meet me at my house.
During this time, my friend and I are racing to her car. There was no way in hell that I could have driven myself. I would have driven myself straight into a concrete wall if I had the chance to. I called everyone. My sister. My Dad. My mom. My step-mom. My step-dad. My brother. I was advised not to call Michael’s family because a CACO team was being formed in Florida to notify them as well.
I finally get home. But there aren’t any Marines there to tell me that my life was over. I didn’t know what to do. I couldn’t just go up to my apartment and just turn on the TV and wait for two Marines and a Chaplain to stop by for a visit. I stay outside and I start pacing my parking lot just crying and shaking. Finally they arrived.
They are walking through my parking lot towards me. They stop in front of me and my CACO reads from a piece of paper “Mrs. Martins, we regret to inform you that your husband, Sergeant Michael Martins was killed at 0930 this morning on his way to work on Miramar Road”.
The next thing I remember we are in the car heading to the hospital. There’s still hope right? Maybe they have it wrong. Maybe they were misinformed by the hospital and the doctors. We walked through the doors of the hospital and through long stretches of hallways with white walls. There were people passing us and in door ways and they knew. They knew more than I did that my husband was dead. We get to the ICU and we were met there by a nurse. She very rudely tells us that Michael has already been transported to the medical examiner. I flipped out on this lady saying that they had to right to move him without my consent. I don’t remember much. I just remember being moved into a small office because I was making too much of a commotion. I was met by his nurses and doctor. They all told me that nothing could be done, that Michael felt nothing. That he want quick.
I told the Chaplain that I didn’t believe in God. Everything in our life was perfect. I was finally settled in a major that I loved. I was finally doing really well in my classes. Almost all straight A’s. I had a job that I loved. I was making good money. Michael was only one more step away from being accepted into the Marine Enlisted Commissioning Education Program (MECEP) in order to be able to go to college for four years and then he was going to live out his dream as a Marine Corps Officer. We had an amazing apartment and awesome friends. We had our own little family that consisted of two dogs and a cat. We were hoping to add more (of the human variety) in the future. Most importantly, our marriage was finally getting on the right track. After two year long tours in Iraq we were finally getting into the groove of things. We had the comfort of knowing that we had at least a solid five years with no interruptions. We were extremely happy and extremely in love. I quickly learned that the statement “we make plans and God laughs” was so true.
After getting back from the hospital the details of everything started to fall into place. Michael was on his was to work, on his motorcycle. We was on a pretty populated road, going with the flow of traffic. An 81 year old man decided to make a left hand turn right as Michael was in front of him. Michael had his helmet on. Gloves. Jacket. The whole get up. Michael was the safest motorcycle drivers I knew. I trusted him so much that I would beg him to take me out on it. Which isn’t like me because I was terrified of motorcycles. But Michael made me feel safe. Our friends from his previous unit started to hear about what happened, they would call hoping that what they heard was wrong. Friends, neighbors and family started to pour in. There was no way that anyone was going to leave me alone. That night I realized it. As I was sitting in the middle of the couch staring a whole into the wall in front of me and as soon as I realized it, I said it - “I’m a 22 year old widow”.
We flew Michael home to Fort Myers, Florida and we laid him to rest on November 14th, 2009.
To my husband Michael - my love for you is eternal. No star in the sky will burn longer than my love for you.