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.
One 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.