My husband Dan was killed on May 29, 2004 when his vehicle ran over an IED. He was killed along with 3 other brave men. Dan was a Special Forces ODA Commander and loved what he was doing in Afghanistan. It brings me much comfort knowing that he was killed doing what he loved.
On the day he died, my youngest son, Billy, and I were taking an afternoon nap. He was three years old. My oldest son, JJ, who was 5 at the time heard the doorbell ring and ran to answer it. He immediately came and got me and ran to his room. At the door was a uniformed Lieutenant Colonel. My heart sank immediately. After bearing the news, I knew I had to get my son. When I found him hiding in his room, he screamed that he knew what happened to his Daddy. That he died. I cried. And couldn’t stop.
The years have been filled with tears. Some that I have shed myself, some that my sons and I have shared together. Some are happy tears and some are filled with grief and anger. But after six years I feel as if our family has come a long way.
I am also an Army officer. And decided to remain on Active Duty. A year after Dan was killed, I was invited to attend a dedication ceremony in Afghanistan. They were naming the camp where the headquarters is located after my husband. But I couldn’t attend. Not because of my schedule, not because I couldn’t get there, but I simply felt the timing was wrong.
I have spent the last 11 months deployed to Kuwait. On 30 May 2010, I traveled to Camp Eggers, Afghanistan, the Camp named after my husband, for a Memorial Day ceremony. I was extremely nervous, wondering for several days and weeks before whether I was making a good decision. I kept worrying about the risks. While in the car driving to the airport, Dan sent me a sign. Though not paying too much attention to the radio, suddenly I heard a song that was played during the memorial his family held in his hometown, “Here Comes The Sun.” Immediately, my heart beat slowed and the tight feeling in my chest subsided. I knew it was going to be alright.
And so it was. I spent 2 days in Afghanistan touring the Camp that was dedicated in his honor. Seeing our name everywhere was strange, but eye opening. The Camp is beautiful. You can drink your morning coffee while sitting in a small rose garden. Nearly all the buildings have small patios where you can relax and enjoy the spring foliage. For just a short 2 days, I felt like I was NOT in the middle of a combat zone.
While I may never take the opportunity, or risk, and visit again, I was truly honored to be guest at the Memorial Ceremony at Camp Eggers and to be able to see the Camp. And it gave me a sense of peace that I didn’t quite expect.
And I feel as if I have come full circle. That I can truly continue to move forward. And that Dan is truly with me every step of the way.
I love you Dan.