Phil left for a TDY the day after Labor Day- and of course we were grateful- usually they leave the weekend before. Glad to have an extra day to get some things done.
On the 6th, I dropped him at work and went right into chemo. It was my first solo chemo mission I'm proud to say. I have so many tough mets sisters who do this drill by themselves week in and week out and I know how lucky I am to have Phil truly want to be there with me. It was absolutely heartbreaking Monday night as we were cleaning up after dinner when Phil asked what my plan was after I dropped him off. Work has been beyond busy for him, although that is not new, it's life, but I really try not to add to his lists. After all he spent his weekend trying to make sure all the possible breaks around the house were in working order because Murphy tends to be an ass with his laws. He is amazing. Phil not Murphy. Murphy can bite me- and has, over and over. So the look of realization on his face, Phil's not Murphy's- because Murphy again don't give a rose rodent rectum... that he had forgotten chemo absolutely broke my heart.
Chemo was uneventful and our first week went off without a hitch. Insert maniacal sarcasm face, laugh, whatever here. It was a normal disaster. 2 sick kids. Me trying to be 3-4 places at once. Each day saying I'm going to take it easy and well yeah- let's not say that, ever. Me getting sick- debating if I should have the boy child drive me in to the ER in the middle of the night- eh nah- my couch was more comfy than the ER.
So in the next weeks, I recovered, still had sick kids, 504 meetings for Lily- hearing aid loss and replacement, trying to get incompetent public health nurses to find and file paperwork so my child can have emergency meds at school(every damn year), my car battery died, at the soccer field. Again In laws to the rescue. The dryer quit. Excellent lessons for kids in outside laundry drying- Lucky we live Hawaii, The oven we ordered did not show up and actually may not exist- TBD. I fortunately got to see my cousin and a truly awesome mutant- it did my soul good. Lily got sick again. Bella decided puking was a fun nighttime activity. Phillip got a concussion. My MRI orders are messed up and I cannot seem to fix it. I know there is more but it suddenly all became really really really unimportant.
Late on Phillip's birthday, I get a call. The time and number are those that make a military wife's heart stop. You don't answer it because you know in your heart it's not good and I know I got a text earlier from Phil, but when. So I take a deep breath and call back. The first question is always- Have you talked to Phil? I had not. He's Ok. And you breathe but you know something very very bad is coming and you know that there are not 2 uniformed men at your door but you know that someone you care about very much is not going to be so lucky tonight. And your heart breaks so swiftly and completely because after almost 20 years you can never ever- as much as you know the risks of the job and try to prepare yourself- you can never ever prepare yourself to lose one of the guys. Sudden loss is so unbearably hard and unimaginable and knowing tonight there is so much heartbreak that you can do absolutely nothing about is excruciating.
There was an accident. It did not involve the jets. But really when it comes down to it- that doesn't matter- what matters is we lost a great person. Jeffrey "Bull" Braden. A young pilot with a beautiful wife and daughter and a baby on the way. A son was lost, a friend. And no one will be the same. As soon as I hang up, I crumble. I haven't been active in the squadron because I can barely keep up with our necessities. But it doesn't matter. It is family. And now- even more than usual,times like these I hate that I can not do it all. This is why there is a tight knit community. I'm just the weird distant relative who is always sick now. I call my sister in law and she comes over. I am so grateful for her. I know that Phil will not have time or be able to call and she assures me its going to be ok. All I want is to hear his voice and I know how absolutely devastated he and all the guys are. And then I feel completely devastated because a young woman will never get to hear her husband's voice again. A little girl will not get to see her daddy. A baby will come into this world without him. It is so unfair.
I kind of want the throat punches of perspective to stop. WE GET IT. Phil returned home Sunday. I so wish there was anything I could do. He drops me at chemo Monday and I can not wrap my head around the impossible 3 weeks it has been and that it just does not get easier and we are physically and emotionally drained and yet grateful just to be. He heads into work. Despite the impossibly hard. We hug each other tighter, again. We do what needs to get done, still. And we hope in some little way to be able to help others just a little bit.
If you can, Please please Keep Jeffrey "Bull" Braden's family in your thoughts and prayers. Please keep the Hawaiian Raptor Ohana in your thoughts as we prepare to say goodbye to a friend and outstanding pilot.
|Jeffrey "Bull" Braden Memorial Fund|