I met my husband Keith in October 2005 in Colorado. After living in Co for 6 years I finally decided to move back home to live by my parents. It was my last night out with my friends before I moved. I was at the bar when I realized I had lost my cigarettes. My friend pointed out a table full of guys and said “they have cigarettes, do you want me to get you one?” After a moment of contemplation I decided I would go ask myself. Surprisingly I was feeling pretty confident as I walked to the table, sat down in the empty chair, turned my head and there he was. I was in complete awe of him. We talked briefly; I got my cigarette and walked away from the table. Still being in complete awe of him, I took my new found courage, walked past the table a few more times before approaching him again, told him how cute he was, grabbed his hand and pulled him to the dance floor. LOL, I laugh every time I think of his “not so smooth” dance moves. The night ended and we exchanged numbers. Over the next week or so we met up every chance we had. We were both so smitten with each other. I had already given up my job, had a date to leave and Keith helped me pack my U-Haul. The night before I planned to move we met up and said our goodbyes. We talked about seeing each other again and what our future could possibly hold. The next day Keith called me to see if I had left. Surprise, I hadn’t! I was so confused. I had all these feelings about someone I had just met. I remember calling my mom crying, asking her what I should do and begging for someone to give me some type of direction or insight on what to do. This went on for days. I just kept postponing my date to leave, all the while spending as much time with Keith as I possibly could. Well, 15 days after meeting Keith we decided to move in together! I know, for some this sounds crazy but for us we were just crazy in love. We were inseparable. Keith proposed to me on Christmas Eve 2005. We were “legally” married on February 12, 2006 (thanks to a PCS) and we had our official wedding day on July 1, 2006.
From the time I met Keith I felt like my life had started. I felt like my search was over, my worries had left me and I was complete. We fell more and more in love with everyday. The time apart drew us closer, the obstacles that life threw our way made us stronger; as long as we were together we could do anything.
While we were stationed at Fort Lewis Keith came up on orders to deploy to Iraq for a year. This scared the hell out of me. How would I make it a year without my best friend? I just remember crying everyday, trying to make plans on what I was going to do. Should I move back home or stay where I was….. A few weeks before Keith was to deploy his orders changed, we were moving to North Carolina. He was going to the SF qualification course. We were soooo excited! This was something that he had wanted since before we met.
Fast forward to October 2008, after over a year of chaos, stress, hard work, sweat and tears, he had done it, graduation! He was put on a team in January of 2009 and already had orders to deploy in July. This time I didn’t cry as much. I guess I knew we couldn’t avoid it forever.
Deployment Day, or so we thought. On July 15, 2009 we loaded up the car and headed to the company. We sat around all day. At about 9-10 p.m. we got word the flight had been canceled and rescheduled to the next day. Yes!! Another night we got to spend with one another, so we went back home. The next day we went back to the company only to sit around again all day long waiting. At about 5:00 p.m. another spouse and I decided to go get something to eat. When we got back Keith was getting in the car with his Major. He said he had to go sign some papers and would be right back. Well almost an hour later he returned and within minutes he had to load the bus to go to the plane. We were able to take 2 quick pictures; he gave me a quick kiss and a hug and that was it. He was on the bus. I watched the bus drive over to the plane and watched as they sat in the runway for another hour. I was so mad!! We had spent two days waiting and at the last minute they take him away to sign a paper that could have been done earlier. They stole the last hour away from us!
Being that this was our first deployment, the next few months were challenging. I tried to keep myself busy. I cried a bunch but tried to stay strong or at least in front of him because I didn’t want him to worry. I wanted him to stay focused and come home safe. We spoke over the phone a few times but mostly kept in touch via webcam and IM. It was the hardest thing I had to deal with or at least I thought.
On October 26, 2009, my life was forever changed. I was sitting on the couch with my dad who had been staying with me for a couple weeks when the door bell rang. I could see a man in uniform through the window. I began to shake. I opened the door, invited them in. I was asked to sit on the couch and then those dreaded words began to come out of his mouth. My husband had been killed when the MH-47 helicopter he was aboard crashed in Darreh-ye Bum, Afghanistan. I just remember gasping for air and saying no over and over again. This couldn’t be happening, not Keith! The words that Keith had spoken to me a few times before he deployed played in my head. “Keith don’t die” He always tried to reassure me that things were going to be ok.
The following few weeks are pretty much a blur. The closest person I had ever lost was my grandmother and now here I was up close and center, 29 years old and a widow.
It has been seven months and I feel like it is only getting harder. For the first 3-4 months I surrounded myself with people 24/7. I have hopped from house to house state to state, staying with his family and my own. In March I decided it was time to come home. My father came back with me so I wouldn’t be alone. Since I’ve been home the realization that he is really gone haunts me everyday though at times I feel like he is still deployed. I cry almost everyday. I feel like I can’t move forward and have no idea on how to. I rarely talk to my friends I have here either because I don’t know how to react and be normal or because they have a tendency to say the most inappropriate things. I stay up at night (its 3:30 a.m.) and sleep half the day. I have no drive and no energy. But what’s really eating at me is my extreme anger. I am so mad at the situation, at the pilots, the army (the higher ups) and at “God” if there is one. I’m pissed because it was someone else in the army that killed him. Someone else made a mistake and my husband had to pay for it along with many others. I know that the pilots didn’t do it on purpose and they lost their lives as well but I’m pissed!!! I’m pissed that the army stole my last hour with my husband and I’ll never get that back! There are so many other things that happened after his death that made me so resentful towards the army, too many to list. I feel like they took everything away from me. Everything that made me happy is gone! A piece of me is missing.
On May 26-27, 2010 a ceremony at Ft. Bragg was held for the fallen soldiers of special operations. It was so hard for me to be there. I felt like they spent more time thanking the generals then the soldiers that gave their lives. I went to honor my husband but I refused to talk to anyone. At one point I was standing next to the families of the pilots. Just standing next to them was unbearable. I have also not spoken to any of the guys on Keith’s team. I can’t. I want to speak with some of them but I can’t. Partly because of issues after Keith’s death but also I think because I’m jealous. Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t wish this on anybody else and I wish every solider would come home but I just keep asking why Keith……
I finally decided to go to the spousal support group on post. I met 3 other widows. Hearing their stories and speaking with them gave a small bit of hope that things get better but I’m still lost. I feel like I’m suffocating, like my world has ended and will never begin again.