Six years ago, I woke up on Palm Sunday listening to the birds sing and already feeling that it was going to turn out to be a warm one.
I got up and was surprised that the constant anguish that I had been feeling for two weeks since my oldest son, Casey, was deployed to Iraq wasn’t that bad. I chalked it up to the beautiful spring day and the fact that my other children were safe and sound in their beds.
I went about my day doing laundry, shopping, going to brunch with my best friend at the time, and getting things ready for my impending workweek as a benefit’s analyst for the County of Napa. It was also the first Sunday in over two decades that our family didn’t go to mass on a Palm Sunday. Our separation from the church had already begun.
That idyllic day began to shatter to pieces at dinner time when I was watching the news with my husband, Casey’s father, and we saw a humvee burning and learned that eight soldiers had been killed in Iraq that day. The delicious dinner I was enjoying turned to lumps of crap in my mouth and I spit it on my plate and said, “One of them was Casey.” My husband, who probably knew as well, got very upset with me, but I knew. I just knew.
A few hours later, I was walking our dogs and sobbing all the way around our nightly route. I knew if Casey wasn’t dead that he was horribly wounded and our family was in for a lot of heartache.
When I rounded the corner, I saw that my oldest daughter, Carly, was already home from work—I was happy that she was home, but when I rounded the corner of the garage, I could see into my house, and what I saw was going to inalterably change my life forever: three Army officers standing in my living room—I ran into the house and saw the shocked looks on Carly and Pat’s faces, and I collapsed on the floor screaming hoping I could scream loud enough and long enough that my heart would physically shatter and I would die, too.
I obviously didn’t die, but I have never been the same. How can one go on the same when a very important part of ones life has been violently stolen?
My life will never be able to achieve April 3, 2004 status, again. Before I even camped out in Crawford and my life changed, it had already been turned upside down.
Palm Sunday was on April 04, 2004 that year—04/04/04—the date that will live in infamy to our family—and to the other families, American and Iraqi that were killed that day.
Six years and hundreds of antiwar events later, the wars rage on and people’s lives are still being destroyed.
My question was then, and will always be the same: “For what noble cause?”
Today, the new War Criminal in Chief call the war in Afghanistan, “absolutely essential,” when he was there on a surprise visit.
It’s absolutely essential for the war machine, but since US casualties have doubled in 2010, there have been and will continue to be mothers, fathers, and other loved ones all over this world who will marvel at how its possible to live with a heart that is so irreparably crushed.
I know it’s not Palm Sunday’s fault that Casey was killed. It is just another day that brings extra pain to my life where every day is filled with the pain of losing Casey.
Easter time is supposed to symbolize rebirth and new life. I was reborn on Palm Sunday in 2004, but the price was too steep. A price no parent should have to pay.