My oldest son has been a constant source of support since he lost his brother, my youngest son. He was the one who carried the burden of knowing his brother had been wounded in Iraq, had lost a foot and hand by an IED device which exploded by a mosque, in Hit Iraq. I learned later that causality officers had been to my old address in West Virginia to notify me, but the assholes there, did not tell them where I had moved. I had just sent Travis an email telling him that I had moved to Virginia, and how to contact me.
EJ had been informed by his father, but chose not to tell me until he learned whether his brother would pull through or not. He knew I would worry myself to death, and would do everything I could to get to Baghdad where he was being treated. As soon as he could be stabilized the plan was to have him transferred to Germany. Everything seemed to be going well, until his lungs failed. Evidently his lungs had been burned so severely by the explosion that they were destroyed. He was placed in a coma, removed from all the machines, and died.
EJ came home from work at lunch that day, said Mama, sit down here with me, we have to talk. I sat down, having no clue, and he told me that my son had been wounded, and he had passed away that morning. I kept asking someone to slap me, wake me up, because I was having a nightmare. That none of it was real. He held me, while we cried, and walked around in shock. I remembered how I stood in the kitchen that morning, and felt, I swear, someone blow down the back of my shirt. I turned, and no one was there. Was it my son, letting me know he would be ok? I like to believe that.
The death of my youngest son proved to be the last straw in my oldest son's eight-year relationship with his fiance. He moved in with me, after the funeral service, and we went about our daily lives, always aware that part of us was gone. We drifted on a sea of disbelief. His father lived in Georgia, and had been distant with both of us during the whole thing. He was there for my son's widow, along with her family, and that was his choice at the time. Since then, my son and I have dealt with all of pain, and grief pretty much on our own. He has not worked since then, at times wanting to die, wracked by guilt that he could not save his brother. He was always his protector, and being eleven months apart in age, there was not a time he could remember his brother not being there, somewhere, a part of his life.
He fell this past weekend and hit his head. He came home, and went straight to sleep, which was unusual, because he has had trouble sleeping since all of this happened. I didn't know about the fall until I spoke to him the next day. He said he was dizzy, had a the worst headache of his life, and couldn't focus. Of course I called the paramedics, but they decided his injuries were probably minor. After they left, I took him to the ER, and after a cat scan, they found bleeding on his brain, which was creating pressure in his skull. They could not tell if the bleeding would continue so he was transferred to the best hospital in the area where they do brain surgery. He is now in the neuro ICU, and depending on what the cat scan shows today, they will decide how to proceed. The blood clot is in his left temporal lobe and, as he is suffering no effects showing damage to speech, ambulation, or memory, it is a miracle in itself. I go to see him, and it hurts so much for him to talk, that I just sit and watch him. It makes me think of when he was born, a month premature, and all I could do was watch him in his crib, hooked up to wires, in the neonatal intensive care unit. He had hylen membrane disease, which means his lungs weren't developed fully, but he survived.
Over this passed year, I have told him he is a survivor, that he comes from a long line of survivors, people too stubborn to give up. I'm not quite sure what his prognosis will be, but I feel his recovery will take a while.
But, so far, he seems to being doing as well as expected. For some reason, I have been calm and positive when I am with him, and do my crying and worrying at home. But, I have faith he will be all right. I have faith he will recover, because I can lose him. All I ever had really was my children. My son's. So proud of them, so blessed to watch them grow, and become the wonderful young men they grew to be.
Please keep him in your thoughts. He is a good, kind-hearted, and giving young man.
That's him. The good looking kid with the fish in his hand. Bass-fishing, the love of his life.