Letting Go & Moving On

The bomb that cost me my leg also took the lives of two of my men. Since I was in various hospitals recovering from my injuries, I wasn’t involved in any way with telling their families what happened. Then, after I was able to talk to them, I just didn’t. I really couldn’t for a while since I was wrapped up in recovering both physically and mentally. I also didn’t want to because I wasn’t sure of my reception and was afraid of what it would mean if things went badly. Until a few months ago, I also felt responsible, survivor’s guilt maybe, and couldn’t bring myself to open up to the families of those men.

But, like a lot of what I’ve been through does, it stayed in the back of my mind. Not festering there, really, just around and it would come out now and then like a toe testing the pool temperature. Then it got to the point I was talking about it with different people, including my therapist, and it felt like time to make a decision: Either call or don’t, but pick one. Honestly, I think I always knew I’d call eventually.

man on phoneOne wasn’t bad. His parents have managed to come to terms with their son’s death and are proud of him for what he was doing. Followed in his family’s footsteps since a lot of them have had military backgrounds. It was good talking to them, and I believed them when they said they appreciated me calling. They asked how I was doing too, which was nice of them.

I was prepared for the other to not be great because I knew his mom never understood why he’d ever joined up. Still, it wasn’t easy for me since I set myself up as a target for her anger and pain. I get it, though. I’d be angry and hurting too if I couldn’t find my way to understanding and accepting. I’m saddened by the state she’s in and I wished her well even as she screamed at me. I do hope she can find her way through this too.

I don’t regret calling either of them because it let me put the worry of what would happen behind me while also tying up loose ends so I can move on in my own recovery. I think that’s the most important thing, so I’m glad I took this step.

24 thoughts on “Letting Go & Moving On

  1. Hnnaah

    Making those phone calls took a serious strength of character. Seems you have a great support network. Are you able to talk to other vets about your service time? I think talking to those vets who were in Vietnam or other conflicts would be interesting, if you could get them to talk. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I hope that by sharing with us, helps you in any positive way possible; and maybe there are Vets out there who take comfort in your words.


    1. Alec

      Hnnaah, I do spend time each week volunteering at the VA and do a lot of talking. I’ve come to understand that it’s the best thing for me and it’s helped others I’ve met too. Takes some push to get to that point, but it’s worth it.


  2. Susan

    Alec, I wasn’t able to see this post before today. Thank you so much for sharing this part of your story with us. This must have been overwhelming for you to make these calls. I am so happy that you were able to take this additional step in your continuing healing process. Glad, too, that Carter was by your side to lend his unending support. You are a brave and beautiful human being, Thank you again, Alec.


  3. Sadonna

    Once again I am in awe of your courage. While I know you were as prepared as you could be to face the unknown, I’m sure having done it and come out the other side with your head held high and the knowledge that you did the right thing for you has helped tremendously. You are an amazing person.


  4. I can only imagine the amount of courage it took to make those calls and I am glad to hear that it was helpful for your recovery. Sometimes it seems the hardest thing is to keep going but you seem to have very supportive people in your corner.


  5. amanda2u

    Thank you for your post. I can only imagine how much courage that took. Glad to hear things are getting better in the healing process. Just know that I think you are brave and respect you very much for your honesty and your service. *hugs*


  6. I just want to wrap you up in a huge hug! What a great thing you did for yourself and the parents of those two men. I’ve told you before I think you are amazing and so very brave and this is just another example of that. I’m sure the mother that didn’t take it well will eventually be comforted by your call, you were the closet person to her son at that time so it’s not surprising she targeted you with her anger, hopefully soon she can come to grips with it and be able to move ahead. Thank you Alec.


  7. bluesmokey

    I am glad you are taking these steps in recovering. I know how important talking about it and getting it all out is to those that have gone through what you have. I can’t imagine what you went through as you go through each step of recovery but am so happy and proud to see you doing it and coming out a little better each time. Thank you for sharing this with us all. We all appreciate hearing how you are doing.



  8. Alec

    Thanks very much, all of you. I do feel like a weight’s been lifted, one that I’ve been carrying for nearly 2 years. One reason I could do this is the support of my friends and family. Carter sat there with me the whole time, just holding my hand, and that really made it easier to do. I’d talked to the guys at the VA too, those who’d done it and those who hadn’t, and I’m definitely in the camp of recommending it. I just feel better.


    1. ((((Alec)))) I can only echo what so many others have already said. I’m so happy for and inspired by you. You are an incredible person and every step you’ve taken and continue to take on your journey is an example to everyone on what courage and compassion really is. ABS


  9. Alec, I cannot pretend to grasp what you have gone through, but I wantngratulate you for taking each (difficult) step towards healing and recovery. I also want to thank you for sharing your story and thereby also educating us! Hugs.


  10. Wow, what a brave and very difficult thing to do. Especially when you know the reception might not be great. But I am sure it helped both families to hear from you, and probably helped you too putting a little closure on things.


  11. Alder

    What a difficult task you have accomplished. It’s good that, as you say, it’s a worry you can put behind you and so allows you to move on with your recovery. (((hugs)))


  12. I hope it helps you to have taken that step, and to know that if there was anything your calls could do for the families, you’ve now done it. Even for the grieving mother, giving her a place to rail against the injustice of losing a child may have been a good thing. May your steps feel lighter for having unloaded the weight of this decision. And for having shared it – you never know what chord your words may also touch out here in the ether. Thanks for letting us see you moving forward.


  13. Again, Alec, you amaze me with you tremendous bravery and empathy. Like the others here, I, too, believe that you likely helped that mother with your call, though the conversation you had may belie that.

    What really matters is that you’re continuing to do the often difficult things that have to do with your own growth, and I personally get much personal inspiration from your head-on determination, so I thank you for that, and to echo Kris, I, too, am honored that you share your journey with us. Big hugs.


  14. pointycat

    I think that making those calls was a very brave & courageous act. I’m sorry that the second call was so hard, but I think it may still have helped the mother. Big hugs and best wishes with your recovery.


  15. Mary G

    Alec, you’re so smart to know not to take her grief personally. I wish I had even a tiny fraction of your bravery & courage. Thanks for sharing this.


  16. I think we (aka the rest of the world) should feel humbled and honoured at the amount of courage and compassion you have for dealing with your own healing, and I’m sure those two families will feel the same too (eventually).
    Thank you for sharing this with us, Alec.


  17. Brandy

    I’m so glad you were able to do this for yourself. Hopefully the angry mother will find acceptance eventually and be able to respect the courage it had to have taken to make that call to her. You’re a good man. God Bless.


  18. Shell H

    I’m not sure where you got the courage to make those calls and I’m sorry the second one was less than pleasant, but like Kris said, it may help the mother eventually.


  19. I can’t begin to imagine what that was like for you, Alec. But I think it’s amazing that you made those calls. It seems like an important healing step, for you and for the families, and even if the second call didn’t go very well, it may help that mother in the long run. I feel honored that you can share the steps of your healing with us. Thank you, Alec.


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