it's been a year
We are almost at the one year mark and it has been haunting me. This is a long post for a long year, but it ends with grace, I promise.
What has happened in a year? What has changed? What hasn't changed?
For starters, I have been moody and easy to agitate lately. I think everyone who loved Jimmy can probably relate, but I haven't asked because I don't feel strong enough to ask how other people are doing.
I look back at what I was doing this time exactly a year ago and it's like watching a horror movie. You see the bad guy about to attack the soon-to-be victim who is completely unaware. I see happy, motivated, busy Melissa last October 30th and I cringe. I hate to think of how my entire world was just about to be turned upside down. I had no idea.
Losing Jimmy has been worse than I imagined. I know that's not what you want to hear, but it hasn't been good. I have felt pain in my heart every day since November 4th. I might have been smiling in the photos and doing normal things, but it was there. It has been there in every moment.
I'll tell you about this past week, for the sake of providing examples.
Last Friday, when I was supposed to be a productive member of society, I sat in front of my computer for three entire hours, without a break, making sure that of the 20,000+ photos on my computer where Jimmy appeared - side angle, just his leg, obviously his face - that he was tagged. I spent three hours doing it and I couldn't stop, even though I knew I had about a hundred other things I needed to do that day.
Today I have had pangs of hurt in my heart. Those lightening bolts that shoot through your system. Randomly. It's like they're reminding me of what this "new reality" is, reminding me that Jimmy was still alive in this same moment 365 days ago. And here is the part that makes me wince: I won't be able to say that on Sunday.
What else has happened?
I've come to realize over the past several months that I have had what can only be described as "grief brain". I have left emails unopened. To do lists collecting dust. Really important things that I completely forgot to do. I have felt like the biggest airhead so many times and it is beyond frustrating.
I continue to feel angry. Angry that the shooter was tasked to kill Americans that day. Angry that Jimmy was in Jordan. Angry that the Army (CIA?) has cock-blocked posthumous awards for Jimmy's heroism.
Good things have happened, too. We pulled together two drivers and 12 runners and ran a 24-hour relay race in Luckenbach, Texas this spring, in Jimmy's memory. Countless friends (and complete strangers) mailed me cards and sent emails. I didn't respond to most of the notes or emails, because...see above, but I have re-read them over and over, thankful for their grace. We raised over $70,000 for the Green Beret Foundation when 40 of us ran the Army 10 Miler ... dear family friends setup an endowed scholarship at Jimmy's high school, Strake Jesuit, and they have already raised over $150,000 (!!!)... Becca ran her first marathon last weekend in DC with wear blue...this weekend we are celebrating Jimmy a la "Jimmypalooza" in Houston, followed by a tribute at the UT game next weekend in Austin.... We have become lifelong friends with the families of Kevin and Matt, which as a result has made me feel so sad that I never got to meet Kevin and Matt.
It's been a hard year, miserable at a lot of moments, but I am thankful for the moments of grace, which culminated in one of the most memorable days of my life last Sunday, October 22nd.
I volunteered to hold an American flag in Jimmy's memory as part of wear blue: run to remember. I stood alongside 270 other gold star families and volunteers, as we held flags for fallen service members and lined a one mile stretch of the Marine Corps Marathon in Washington, DC. There was so much grace. From my best friend and mother of two, Maggie, who woke up with me at 4:50AM and spent the entire morning outside, cheering along runners and taking turns holding Jimmy, Matt and Kevin's flags. We stood together with Faith who held Kevin's flag and Jean who held Matt's. To the 30,000 runners who passed through the mile crying, holding their hands across their chest or saluting us as they ran past.... So many people told us thank you. So many people. To the moment my sister ran up to me, where I stood next to Jimmy's photo with the biggest smile on her face...
There is love and grace out there and it's the only thing that has kept me going this past year.