San Marcos — It’s been more than a year since the San Marcos community was saddened by the war death of one of its own.
Yet those who gathered at the San Marcos Veteran’s Memorial last June for a service honoring 22-year-old Cpl. Michael Davis came away with more than just a greater understanding of his life. The courage and eloquence of his young widow Taryn touched everyone.
“On Michael’s journey, he stopped at every corner and enjoyed the people he met,” she said that day, mustering up a clear voice. “I never was living my life until the day we exchanged vows,” added the 22-year-old high school sweetheart who suddenly found herself a widow.
As inspirational as she was that day, Taryn Davis was just getting started.
Tomorrow, she will be at the forefront of the premier of a DVD at the Alamo Drafthouse on South Lamar in Austin that will officially launch her American Widow Project. The DVD features interviews with six young widows from across the United States, and will be made available for free to all those widowed from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Davis conducted the first of those interviews just four months after her husband’s death.
“I’ve been traveling all over the country, covering stories of military widows, different stages and different ages,” she said on Thursday, speaking by phone from Austin, where she and other military widows were giving emotional support to one who was getting a memorial tattoo.
Davis said the inspiration behind the American Widow Project came out of her own grief and confusion. Searching for answers, she found them.
“The first interview was actually with the widow whose husband was sitting behind my husband” when both were killed by a roadside bomb near Baghdad on May 21, 2007. “It was very emotional, very hard to hear things and ask questions I didn’t really want to ask, because they would correlate with what happened to my husband.”
She conducted that first interview “in tears,” Davis said; and afterwards found herself questioning her ability to assemble a true resource for others in her situation.
“I went into ‘I don’t know if this can be done, I don’t know if widows will want to sit down and tell me about the happiest and most horrible days of their lives.’ I didn’t know if people would understand or relate.”
But they did.
Davis said she expects about 30 military widows from out of state to be among those attending Saturday’s screening — some whose husbands died at war, one whose husband was killed in an automobile accident in Germany, one whose husband was murdered after he returned stateside and one whose husband committed suicide because of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
The film and an accompanying Web site (awp.staging.wpengine.com) detail all aspects and stages of a widow’s journey after her husband no longer walks it with her.
“It will be like having a widow sitting in your living room,” she said of the documentary DVD. “Everything from how they fell in love, to engagement, to notification, how they told their children and what they are doing to try to keep alive.”
And those answers have been “amazing,” Davis said. “We have footage of widows learning how to fly, taking motorcycle lessons. We try to cover all the facets.”
The screening will be held at 6:30 p.m.