Friday, December 30, 2011
The year began with a sense of relief. 2010 was over – the worst year of my life was over. Although I had dreaded 2011 so much and had felt almost guilty for entering into it, once that ball dropped and “Happy New Year”s erupted throughout the house, I knew something amazing had happened. For my family, it was a promise that the coming year couldn’t be worse than the one that had just ended. But for me, it was something else, maybe only slightly different. For me, it was a promise that I was going to make it through Jimmy’s death. No matter what life threw at me, I would make it. And thus far, I have.
In February, my cousin gave birth to a beautiful baby boy – James Henry – on the 7th. Baby H, as we have come to call him, has been such a blessing to watch grow, though I didn’t meet him until a few months later. He’s full of smiles and I think that’s exactly what our family needed. Also in February, the rest of Jimmy’s unit returned home from a one year deployment to Afghanistan. They were met by love, honor, respect, and thanks by their families – and maybe a little bit of bitter sweet hearts by mine. On February 18th, my uncle turned 50 and I gave him a book of poems, letters, emails, and all kinds of stuff that I had written to, about, or for Jimmy, his son. On the last day of February, having been half a year since Jimmy was killed in action, I began writing again. There was an odd feeling that day when I finally got the “okay” from Jimmy’s brother. I looked at a picture of Jimmy smiling in his full battle-rattle and I just felt…at peace. I cried with joy that I didn’t quite understand. I still don’t understand it. The only thing I can say is maybe, just maybe, that was Jimmy’s way of saying that he was okay with this project, too.
In March I attended two “Packing Parties” to send supplies to the Troops – one through the Thank You Foundation and the other through the Yellow Ribbon Support Center. I went on Spring break and just did a bunch of local stuff we don’t often take advantage of. Other than that it was a pretty quiet month.
On October 1st, my school held their homecoming dance, which was fun, but really crowded and hot. On the 8th, my cousin’s scholarship fund – Shabooms – held its first annual bike ride. I rode with my cousin mentioned above and I had a great time. My cousin, Scott, also came with his girlfriend and it was just a great day. It was also the 12 year anniversary of my mom’s death. In that respect, I was really glad I rode with my cousin. Every time my mind began to wander, he’d do something – pinch my knee, use my leg as an arm rest, start singing, etc. – that kept my mind off of it. I don’t know if he knew it or not, but I really needed it. So thank you, cousin. That night, my dad and I went to a bonfire at a family friend’s house and I saw said bad-movie-picker-friend. It was entertaining, but at that point my mind wasn’t allowing me to divert it from what the day meant. We didn’t stay long but when I went home that night, it was a long night to say the least. And I’m thankful for the person that talked to me the whole while, telling me I’d be okay. If you’re reading this, I don’t think you know how much that meant to me. You didn’t have to do that, but you did. Fire. Hot. Hurt!
And now, New Year’s is here again. I said last year that 2010 had made me a different person. And if that was the case, 2011 has made me true to that new person. I don’t think I’ll ever be the same as I was, but I don’t think any of us are really ever the same as we were. Whether we were changed by a loss, an addition, or just by decisions, I don’t think we can ever say that we’re the same as we were. I think every year offers a new opportunity to be someone we weren’t – whether that’s for the better of worse – and I think it’s up to us whether or not we take that chance. I’m pretty happy with who I am, right now. There’s always going to be a part of me that wishes I could just be a normal, happy, ignorant teenager, but I know that will never happen. I am who I am because of what I’ve been through. My views have changed, my priorities have changed, and yes, I’m very military-oriented. I love my country and I love my family. I’m not all about boys or the Jersey Shore or anything like that. My Heroes aren’t on TV or in music, my Heroes wear combat boots and dog tags. Maybe I won’t change the world, maybe I won’t ever be known by millions, but I’m okay with that because I like who I am. There’s always going to be a pain in my heart, but that pain is what keeps me in check. I found a quote earlier this year that I think perfectly sums up 2011 – “I’m not what I’ve done…I’m what I’ve overcome.”
Happy New Year!
Posted by Hanna at 2:38 PM