I seriously have fallen behind this year with my reflections. I couldn’t decide if I wanted to do a reflection of August 28th this year or not; if I wanted to reflect on Jimmy’s homecoming and services. But I have decided that I really need to.
On August 28th this year, my family and I gathered at the airport that Jimmy arrived at on September 6th, 2010 for the last time. His mom, his wife, his brother-in-law, his aunt, and two others jumped out of a perfectly good airplane that day in honor of Jimmy. We then went to the cemetery and held a candle light vigil for our Hero as we marked the two year anniversary of his death. I read a poem that night and fought back tears. It really hit me as we stood there: It has been two years. Two years that we’ve all tried to learn how to live without him. I don’t quite understand how we’ve done that, but what matters is that we have. The thing that we thought would kill us, the thing we thought we would never be able to overcome or move past. . . we survived that. I don’t know that any other term could describe that because that’s exactly what we’ve done. We’ve SURVIVED. I wanted that day to last forever because I didn’t want us to move into the third year without him. My heart hurt so excruciatingly much in that moment and I knew that the next day I wouldn’t have an excuse for it to. I wanted to stay in that day so that I could let that pain run its course without having to worry how others would view it. Because I know how I come across to people, I know that people probably think “She should really be getting over it by now.” I know that I shouldn’t feel this broken over my cousin. I loved him so much, but I know that I don’t suffer the most. But that day did come to an end as I talked to a very special person who assured me I’d be alright because I was in their heart. And that? That’s the safest place to be because that’s the place that makes you the strongest.
On the 6th of September I honored the day that my Hero made his final journey home. We brought him home that Monday morning with many flags, many people, many tears, and much love. I already reflected on this day, so I won’t write much here. That day weighed heavily on my heart because I also had to think of my Uncle Drew who rode that day for a man he did not know – a man that he grew to love that he didn’t have to. Having lost both of them was a sharp knife in my heart.
Yesterday was September 8th. My family and I again went to Sunbury, Ohio for the Fallen Heroes Memorial ceremony. The ceremony is already heartbreaking and sobering as you cry for each person there because you know exactly how each one of them felt. They called role for each of the 274 Fallen Heroes from the state of Ohio and I read each name with the speakers and whispered a silent “thank you” to each of them. My heart broke so much that I didn’t think it was possible for it to shatter any more when I heard the name “SGT James C. Robinson” called followed be a “Not present” and the tolling of the bell. These flags were lined up on the side walk and the wind blew them like crazy. Old Glory slapped me in the face and I knew that it had to be Jimmy saying “Hey, kid, snap out of it. I’m still here, and I’m not going anywhere.” That day, though, also happened to be the two year anniversary of Jimmy’s visitation. I remember pieces of that day so vividly that it’s insane. It was two years ago yesterday that Mr. Keith Maupin handed me the button with Jimmy’s picture. I have worn that button every day for two years – a total of 731 days. In those two years, each time I have said the Pledge of Allegiance, my hand has covered that button, which has covered my heart. In those two years my Hero has helped protect my heart and has helped protect me. In those two years I have been able to look down at any given moment and see his face.
But in those two years, that picture has faded. I realized at Sunbury just how much it had faded. And so today I have decided that it is time to stop wearing it. It breaks my heart completely to do that. It makes me feel as though I am forgetting him. It makes me feel like I’m losing a piece of him or a piece of myself. That button has been on my chest every day for two years and has become such a part of me. I did not wear my button for the first time today, and it feels so strange. Jimmy, I promise you, I am not forgetting you. I wish I could talk to you about this. I love you just as much as I did yesterday – and the day before that and the day before that and so on and so on. It has taken me awhile to realize that. It has taken me awhile to realize that by taking off this button, it does not mean that I’ll forget you, that I love you any less, or that I won’t think about you. Because I will. I still think about you all the time and I love you so much my heart could burst with pride and explode with sadness. I hope that you understand.
And today marks two years since I saw my Hero’s face for the last time. Today marks two years since I spoke at your funeral; two years since we laid you to rest; two years since I stood at the cemetery as the director said “This marks the end of the funeral services for SGT James C. Robinson” and I wondered how in the H-E-double-hockey-sticks I was supposed to just go home now. How I was supposed to keep on living now that things were over. How I was supposed to not fall into that six feet hole with you. Today marks two years since I kissed your cheek for the last time. I wish that kiss would have woken you up. My tears are forever with you – my kiss forever with you.