As the day of my husband’s death creeps up on me, I can’t help but to remember all the good times we had together. The bad times we had don’t even matter anymore. I remember that day all too well, it’s a memory that just keeps replaying in my head. It was on February 16, 2005; around eight o’clock at night.
I was sitting in the living room, watching TV, checking my email and eating Doritos. There was a knock at my door and I thought it was my one neighbor again. They were always getting into a fight and she would come to me to talk about it. So, I went to answer the door, ready to hear about their fight. As I opened the door, I froze at what I was seeing. There was a preacher and another guy accompanying him in their dress blues and all I said is “you’ve got the wrong house!” I froze, they asked if I was Mrs. Pusateri, and I just nodded my head. Unable to say anything, I knew exactly why they were at my door. They walked me to the living room and sat me down. The preacher said, “Mrs. Pusateri, I don’t like to be the bearer of bad news, but I’m sorry to say that you’re soldier won’t be coming home.”
I don’t remember what I said, but I know I just sat there as all the memories came rushing through my mind. The thought of not being able to see my husband crossed my mind once, but I never thought it could happen to me. The other soldier said that I would be seeing them again for about a week, as I would be signing a lot of papers. They asked if I would like one of them to get a neighbor or friend. I said yes, my neighbor, Alisa she was the closest to us. As the soldier went to get Alisa, I got my cell phone and called the first person that came to mind, my mom. At that time I started shaking and almost couldn’t dial the number. I still was in shock and wasn’t crying, but as soon as my mom answered the phone, I started crying. “Mom”, I said, “I’ve got bad news…” She knew right then what happened. I didn’t have to say another word, she said that she would take the next flight out and would be there with me through it all. She hung up and I started dialing my mother-in-law’s number. Right before I dialed the last number, Alisa came in the door and just started holding me and crying with me. She asked if I wanted her to tell his mother, but I said no, I have to. As the phone rang, I cleared my throat and prepared for her to answer. Brenda said, “Hi, Christine, what’s up dear?” I couldn’t say anything, I just started sobbing, and I heard her say “no, it can’t be…” all I heard after that was sobbing and screaming on the other line. That was when I lost it and fell to the floor. Alisa took the phone from me and was talking to Brenda, as the preacher just held me. The two men left my house, and Alisa asked me if I wanted to sleep at her place, so I wouldn’t be alone. I said yes, but I still had a few people to call. I called our one friend, Steve, who was out of the Army and back in New Jersey. Steve and his girlfriend, Lisa, were driving down to Fort Bragg the next day, to be with me. Then I called our other friend, Billy. He also was out of the Army, and back in Texas. He also left the next day to come to Fort Bragg. Christopher’s best friend, Kevin, was there in Iraq when he got killed, and he was flying back in two days. That night was the hardest night I think I’ve ever had in my life, and I slept on Alisa’s couch with her that night.
The next day, I had a lot of paper work to do, and I started packing my essentials to take back home with me. I went to a lot of places on base to set up the details of the funeral and all that good jazz. My mom was right there by my side through it all. My mother-in-law never once came down, but yet she thought she would try to put in her two cents. Didn’t work though, I made all the arrangements and did everything a wife should. When Kevin got back, he always made sure I had everything I needed, and Billy, Steve, Lisa and him stayed right with me. My two neighbors, and the FRG, or Family Readiness Group, always made sure I had food and drinks. I never really did go to any of the meetings, but they still treated me like one of their own. They were great women, and I greatly appreciated the company. I was never alone, and always had a shoulder to cry on.
I traveled back and forth from North Carolina to New York a lot, and then came the time for the movers to come and pack up my belongings. I won’t tell you about the funeral, because that will probably be another day to write down my thoughts. I remember when the movers where there at my place. It was them, my mom and I, and then Kevin brought the new guys from the platoon over to help clean and take care of the back yard for me. They were all so very helpful! It’s amazing how different people will come together for someone when there’s a tragedy. I had also gotten so many letters and cards from all over the U.S., for their sympathy of my loss. I think it was a few weeks until I actually moved out and went home, and those few weeks are a blur. But you never know what you have, until you lose it. Cherish every single moment with the ones you love, because you never do know when it could end.
Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. – John 15:13
Wars begin where you will, but they do not end where you please. – Machiavelli