Monday, August 31, 2009

I'm Depressed

I have always believed that admitting a problem is the first step in overcoming it. So I am admitting I suffer from depression.
Some of the symptoms of depression are:
  • Loss of interest in normal daily activities
  • Feeling sad or down
  • Feeling hopeless
  • Crying spells for no apparent reason
  • Problems sleeping
  • Trouble focusing or concentrating
  • Difficulty making decisions
  • Unintentional weight gain or loss
  • Irritability
  • Restlessness
  • Being easily annoyed
  • Feeling fatigued or weak
  • Feeling worthless
There are a few others but only these apply to me. I'm not suicidal or in physical pain. I'm just depressed. I have been for a long time now. And I am fighting it tooth and nail. My husband is depressed too. So most people would assume we have a very gloomy life. We don't. We have each other and the years of love we have built are probably the only thing that sees us through. I hate that I am this way. I don't want to be. It affects just about every aspect of my life.

Often I am told I should see the doctor and get a prescription for anti-depression medication. But to me that is just another way of pretending I don't feel like this instead of dealing with it. that and the side affects of some of those drugs scare me more than the depression itself.

Now don't get me wrong my depression is not so bad that I can't cope or function. I do every day. I get up and get the kids to school, clean my house, write, cook, chat with people online.. I even laugh and joke around. But underneath the surface is a sadness and anger I can not seem to shake. It may never go away.. and in a small way i hope it doesn't. I am however learning to cope. And as much as it all hurts sometimes.. the hurt is better than not being able to feel anything. I was numb long enough, now is the time to feel. And to learn to own these feelings and not allow them to own me.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Flowers and Pinwheels

It's been bugging me for a while. The flowers on Micheal's grave were in need of replacing. I don't go out there as often as maybe I should. It's very hard for me to go. But then it's hard for me not to go. I want to visit Micheal at his barracks room not his graveside. I miss him so damned much. I couldn't find the black silk roses I usually buy and mix with white ones. The local store that carried them, doesn't anymore. I was told by an other store it would be Halloween before they carried them. So today I went and bought some dark red silk roses with white baby's breath and took them out to the cemetery. It was hard to not take him his black and white roses. It just didn't seem right. He so loved the checkerboard black white thing. I managed to find one black and one white rose that were out there that were in good enough shape to add to the red ones. His pinwheel was missing. I'm sure the strong winds from recent storms carried it off. I will have to get a new one.

It's funny the little things I feel I have to do for Micheal. The black roses, the rubberband and even the pinwheel. Outside looking in some would not understand and may even find it insulting. I mean how many people would get that Micheal loved black. It was his favorite color and that the black roses are not an insult. The pinwheel even few would get. There is a picture from Iraq that inspired that. I had printed the picture out and had it sitting in the livingroom for weeks before I saw the pinwheels on the headlights of the Humvee. And then the picture of Micheal playing with those pinwheels showed up. And I knew that he had put them on the Humvee and drove it with those on it. That was confirmed when listening to his guys stories. Command wouldn't let him actually leave the camp with them on the Humvee though. But for one day he had pinwheels to be silly with. I don't know who sent those pinwheels but I am grateful to them. Who ever they are they sent my son a smile in the shape of a pinwheel.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Over Dramatic?

My daughter thinks I am being over dramatic... I just read and signed her World History class syllabus. Unit 2 is " The World of Islam". I have a problem with this. My first and largest concern is the teacher who is teaching this class is a liberal hippie anti-war problem. She was often corrected for teaching revised history by my son Pokey. And once she even tried to give him detention for his opinion that war protesters during Vietnam were Hippies. I explained to the school that my children will not be punished for their opinion. He never served the detention and she was caught in a lie about having called me about his "behavior". I do not trust this teacher to teach this topic objectively. She hates the military and I just know in my bones she will try and make the Muslims into gentlemen farmers who had their land stolen and are just fighting to get it back. BLARG!!!

My daughter is of the opinion that I am being dramatic because I will be going to the school and asking for more information. I reminded her that in Afghanistan today they passed a law that said husbands can starve their wives if they refuse to have sex. This is a culture that treats women and children as possessions to be used and abused. This is a culture that has no respect for life on any level. Death to them is honor. This is the culture and religion that took my son from me. So yes I am fuming.

I will be going to the school and requesting a full outline of the unit and how it will be presented. I will not allow the Muslim world to be glamorized or made into the victims. Which is what I truly fear will happen in this classroom.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009


The last family get together before Pokey deployed was at my Dad's house. We all had a great time. We spent 4 days hanging out and generally doing family things like BBQing, celebrating birthdays, roasting marshmallows and on Sunday afternoon we watched football. The Packer game to be specific.

A love of football is something Pokey and I shared. We loved the Packers. He spent a large chunk of his childhood living in Wisconsin and in fact just blocks from Lambeau field. I discovered football in my 20s. I thought all good wives should learn about the game to make their hubby's happy. Funny thing is I love football more than my hubby. He can take or leave it. I'm the one who yells if someone walks in front of the TV during the game.

Now I talk about this because a friend was comparing rugby to American football and it got me thinking about how much I enjoy watching football. Then I remembered a story on of the guys told me when they got back. It was in the middle of the night in Iraq and everyone was sleeping when Micheal's team leader was walking through the barracks and found Micheal in the community room watching TV. "Phillips what are you doing? Why aren't you sleeping?" "It's the Packers!" As if that explained everything. LOL Well it was the play offs. A couple of the guys have mentioned rivalries they had over football with them. And how when their team lost he made sure the headline was on their pillow for them to find. It makes me smile to know that even in that hellhole he had football.

With football season right around the corner I know that with every Packer's game I watch I will be thinking of Micheal and hoarse the next day. Hmm wonder if he has any pull on helping them make it to the Superbowl again? ;)

Go Pack Go!

Monday, August 10, 2009

The Report Came ( follow up)

Well Thursday morning I received a phone call from the Sargent who was suppose to deliver the report. He was not going to be able to make it until Friday due to a family emergency. Trust me for us family always comes first so this was in no way a problem. When I realized this man was going to drive a 4 hour round trip to hand me a report I felt really bad so I made arrangement for it to be picked up be some people I trust who were going to be going to Ft Sill where this gentleman was.

The report finally made it to our hands Sunday morning... it sat on my husband's desk unopened till later that evening. My husband "had to read it". I found him sitting quietly alone in the office reading it. When he was done he told me he did not recommend I read it. He says there is nothing in it we don't know or haven't figured out but it reopens the wounds. But he has made of couple of statements that have my mind reeling. Like how hard my son's brothers fought that day to "protect Micheal". It wasn't until February I realized they were taking incoming fire. Reading it has obviously upset my husband and he is having a difficult time processing it and dealing with the re-opened wounds.

I know there are things we know that aren't in that report. The fact that Micheal's First Sgt never let go of his hand and comforted him isn't in it. Micheal turning to him and smiling and saying "hey 1SG" isn't in it. What my son spoke to the surgeon isn't in it. the hundreds of people who came to the graveside and mourned for my son with us isn't in it.

I'm still not sure when or if I will ever read it. But it's now tucked away where it is out of sight and I hope that will help get it out of my husband's mind.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Instant Messages

I've kept ever single instant message conversation I had with my son while he was in Iraq. I knew when something bad had happened because the first thing he would ask is " What is everyone doing?" Sort of a roll call making sure we all were doing exactly what we were suppose to be and that his foundation was in place. I thought of that question as his life line question. On the days when nothing horrible happened there he would start the conversation with " How much is in my account?" He had become a penny pincher and I was glad of it. Prior to his leaving for Iraq he spent money as if he had an endless supply.

Reading back through the conversation I found one we had had on my birthday.. just 12 days before he was killed. He had forgotten of course. He remembered the day before and gave me a bunch of shit about being old and 40. But on my birthday just 24 hours later the days had run together for him once again and he had forgotten. His friend reminded me. He felt bad but proceeded to give me more crap about being old. I told him he would be 40 someday and I had a good memory. He told me he would never be 40. I got on him about talking about dying.. He told me he knew he wouldn't live till 40 but he didn't want to die there. Honestly I had forgotten about the conversation until a few days ago when I went back and re read the conversations.

I actually had gone into read the last one I had with him. Just 24 hours before he died. He was worried about coming home on leave. Wasn't sure he could handle being around a lot of people. We had decided not to tell anyone expect a select few he would be home until he was ready to be around people. He was glad that I understood. How could I not? He had already told me he had the "jumps" and a few of the things he had seen there. I know there was more but like every soldier he didn't want us at home who loved him to worry. Be concerned yes. Care yes but not worry.

One of his friends there told me later that he had come back to the barracks that last night happy he had gotten to talk to me and his Dad and in the best mood he had been in in awhile. I am just glad he knew we understood and loved him and just talking to us online could make him happy...

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Psychic Readings..

Some people believe in psychics and some don't. Rarely is there a in between view on the topic. Well I have always believed that the veil between life and life after death is very thin. And I believe that those who pass reach out to us when we need them.

The day Pokey came home he began letting us know he was with us and ok. Several things happened that I just knew were his doing. The one that made me laugh was when he picked on his Dad. Fozzy was in the kitchen cooking his comfort food, ramen noodles with eggs in it( YUCK), anyway... the door on the hot water heater closet opened. Fozzy looked at it and thought it was weird and turned back to cooking, 3 seconds later it SLAMMED shut and scared the heck out of all of us. Fozzy cussed his beloved son and left the kitchen. hehe I know it was Micheal messing with him. The next day I went out to try and find something black to wear to the funeral and to escape on my own for a little bit. While i was gone my Uncle had cleaned the kitchen. the first thing I noticed when I walked into my kitchen was the clock on the microwave was working. I was frozen. I guess the look on my face told my brother something was not right. when he asked what was wrong I said the clock on the microwave.. he said yeah it was driving Uncle Sam nuts so he set it. What they didn't know is Micheal had dropped the microwave helping us move and the clock never worked after that. In fact the display didn't work at all. I just believe he fixed it. There were a few other incidents. I shared these stories to explain that I do believe it is a thin veil... and I believe some people are much more able to hear those on the other side of that veil.

A few weeks ago I started listening to the Blogtalk radio show " Gay Psychic". I've listened to Blogtalk for some time now and I must say this is one of the most positive and friendly shows on blogtalk. The host and his listeners are just very kind and positive. This is why I decided to call in and ask if the person I lost had anything to tell me after listening to several shows. Now granted there are "psychics' who are only out to bilk people and will do a reading then tell you you need a private reading for a certain amount of money. This in not the case with this gentleman. He does private readings but I have never once heard him ask for money from anyone so for all you that think negatively... I've heard it.

The reading..
while waiting on the phone I knew my mother-in-law who passed years ago was gonna get involved. It was just who she was. And one of the first things I was asked was if it was a woman I was trying to contact. I was then told that the woman was with my son and laughing. Her way of saying she was happily with her grandson in my mind. She truly loved Micheal and did not get enough time with him. I was then asked if he wore black glasses. the answer to this is is yes. Micheal always choose black frames. the thing is not a single picture of him online is he wearing his glasses. In all of them he is wearing his contacts.Next I was asked if he was bald... No but being very blonde and having a military very short hair cut it could appear that he was. The message Micheal sent to me was "Stop being a worry wart" which amused me because he use to tell me that all the time when I would be mom and tell him to be careful. He also told me to "Smell the Rose" . When Micheal was very young I had cancer. It really made me slow down and appreciate life and I use to say it taught me to "smell the roses". For some it sounds like a cliche being used but knowing my story and the conversation I had with Micheal about my having cancer I understood it. I was also told he was fine. And that the number 3 kept coming up. I couldn't figure out what the 3 was until the following day when I was looking for a photo in one of my folders and my mouse slipped and clicked on the picture of the Memorial they unveiled at Ft. Campbell in February. Each incident that took a life is marked with a star. Micheal's incident was the 3rd incident. His star on the monument is 3. I found a great deal of comfort in this reading. In fact the following evening for the first time in a very long time I had a feeling of joy and peace.

To Read or Not To Read

Tomorrow I will finally receive the AK 15-6 incident report detailing the day my son was killed. I requested it 18 months ago. The first copy was lost before it got to me. When things like this are delayed I have always found that the information comes to me when I am ready or need it. I will admit though I am absolutely terrified to read this report. But there is also a part of me that wants to tear right into it and read every word. I'm very torn.

The fact is I probably know 95% of what is in the report. Micheal's guys have been good about answering our questions. But there are still some what I call Rule 32 questions. Rule 32 being "Don't ask questions you don't want the answers to". I have never asked about Micheal's specific injuries. I have a good idea but I am content with the surgeon telling me he died of internal injuries. I also know there are parts they will have blacked out for security reasons. Like the names of the bastards who killed my son. I was told I had to wait 5-10 years for that information. Now honestly a year ago I would have gone hunting if I had had those names.

So tomorrow a SGT will drive for a couple hours to hand us a report. It is standard procedure to hand deliver these reports. Which is somewhat telling in itself. And I will either open it up and read it or I will put in a drawer with my son's things. One thing I will know and find comfort in is.. I will now have the choice to read it or not. As will the rest of the members of our family. And years from now it will be available to my son's nieces and nephews if they want to know a little more about their Uncle Pokey. And maybe it will keep them from romanticizing death in war. I think that is a big part of why I needed this report.

I know my husband is against too much information. Knowing doesn't change anything. But for me knowing helps me come to terms a little easier. As much as it hurts sometimes it is like I am cleaning the infection out of my soul. The scars will remain forever but if I don't purge some of this the pain gets far too intense. And sometimes the only way for me to purge is to make myself hurt by facing the things I often work hard to avoid.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Two Flags for Pokey.

For most Americans when they see the flag they think of the US and all it stands for. For some seeing it reminds them of all the men and women who fought to make and keep this nation what it is. I suppose the same is true for all nations people when they view their flag. It is a symbol of pride.

I have flown a flag on my house with pride in my nation, it's history and with hope for it's future for a long time. But now more than ever when I look on it I can not help but think of all those who have fought and died to make this country what it is. It's more than a symbol to me. It is what my son stood for. What he believed it. It stands for freedom, liberty, and sacrifice. Nothing comes for free. There is always a cost. And the price of this nation is the blood, sweat and tears of those who believed in it so strongly that they fought and died for this nation and trying to give a small piece of it to others around the world.

On July 4th 2009 a Pennsylvania National Guard unit stationed at Taji Iraq flew a US flag in honor of my son. This was arranged by a dear friend, Sgt. Steven Ryersbach, who I met through my adopting soldiers habit. Today the flag arrived in the mail. I now have two flags that honor my son. And both hold as much meaning as the other. One was from a grateful nation given to me at my son's funeral and the one that came today was from his brothers who never met him. But who stand for the same things he did. By doing this for me I am comforted to know that my son is not forgotten. That even in Iraq there are men who never knew him and never met me except through emails that remember him. His spirit lives on in these men and all those who serve. They share a common mission and values.

What the person who flew this flag and honored my son does not realize is that July 4th, 2006 was my son's first official day of bootcamp... his first official day of being a soldier. He had been in a holding unit until that day although he had arrived at Ft Benning several days before.

So now each morning as I step outside to fly my flag I am going to do it with more emotion than ever. As it flaps and snaps in the wind I will hear the voices of the past, present and the future. And I will remember that a man in Iraq cared enough to give me this gift. And I will remember my son and be inspired.