As another year passes I find myself reflecting more and more on the lives of four honorable men. I think about not only Schuyler Patch, but also of Dan Thompson, Scott Stream, and Brian (Bubba) Bunting. I think of them, the families they left behind to mourn their sacrifice, as well as the men and women they served shoulder to shoulder with on a daily basis.
And in thinking about their brothers and sisters in arms, I began to wonder…how are THEY doing? How are they coping as we approach the two year anniversary of their tragic deaths? Often the focus is on the biological family that a fallen soldier has left behind. But as we should never forget the sacrifice those fallen soldiers and their families have made, we also must not forget those men and women that came home.
Their pain and anger is as real as ours. Many of them were there the day the tragedy occurred. We cannot forget that they watched helplessly as their friends/brothers/comrades perished. They were there.
When I close my eyes and think to the day of February 24, 2009 I remember the call. I remember Amber’s voice and the disbelief in my mind. I remember wanting to scream. I remember contacting my husband; only saying “Sky’s dead…come home now” before running outside to cry (hoping to not wake up the sleeping baby). I remember my phone ringing and seeing my parents’ number…I answered with a choked “Hello” and my Mom said “OK…you know….do you want to talk now or later?”….I choked out “Later…I love you” and hung up. I could not speak….I could only sob and choke back my urge to scream.
And when I relive those memories I find myself wondering this year about the guys out there with them in that convoy. Do they relive that day in their head over and over? Do they have other days with similar tragedy they find in a looping reel through the depths of their mind? I hope not, but sadly, I would imagine that those images creep into their minds, as they do ours. To those brothers who were out there on 2/24/2009, I think of you today also, and the sacrifices that you made on the battlefields. I wish for you peace in your mind and good memories of your friends that will outweigh the tragedies that you have seen. Thank you for your service.
Two years. Two years and the effects of the loss are still fresh. Children are growing up without their Daddy. Wives are moving forward without their husbands at their side. Parents mourn the loss of their baby…their son…their child. A sister copes by making every effort that he is not forgotten. We all inch on, day by day, and try to find our new normal. And yet, the important thing is that we are inching on. Some days more so than others, but we are moving forward. We are living our lives. We are remembering not just the loved one we lost, but all 4 men. We remember them daily and think of their families often.
The loss has taught me many things, but most of all the loss has given me perspective in my life. The silly things that once stressed me out so much now are given the little attention they deserve. I know what is honestly important in my life now and those little things just have to wait. The loss of Schuyler from my life has reminded me that family is so incredibly important and that you’ll never be sorry for expressing your love for someone.
February is so hard…first Schuyler’s birthday on the 17th and then the day he died on the 24th. The 24th doesn’t just represent the 2-year anniversary of his death…it represents the starting of a pain that none of us ever anticipated knowing. It represents a shift in the path our lives would all take…not just for our Patch family, but for the Stream, Bunting, and Thompson families as well. This is a path none of us would’ve chosen for ourselves, and yet here we are. We are all navigating this path as we best can, knowing that what we’re doing is what we can do. Each of us navigate the path in our own way and hope that the others are doing as well or better than ourselves.
So once again, we find ourselves at February 24. Two years ago this world lost 4 brave men, and 4 families lost a treasured member. I love and miss you every day, Schuyler. I hope that you’re in a place where you enjoy endless happiness and can look down and see us from time to time. I hope that you are with Mom and telling colorful jokes and playing pranks. I hope that you know how much we all miss you and that not a single day goes by that we don’t all think about you and wish you were here. And, I hope that you, Scott, Bubba, and Dan can all see that we will NEVER forget.