It is strange how different people in my life collide at the most unexpected times with the resulting high-highs and low-lows.
On Friday, we celebrated Will's life. Will was 21 years old when he was killed in Iraq. Earlier in the day, Micha sent me an email and told me that Felix is in Kuwait. He's been in Iraq since January 2006 and after being extended in August, he is finally coming home. I am thrilled for them, but my heart is breaking again. This is a homecoming I never got. Neither did Will's family or the 3123 Gold Star families.
Steve just arrived in Iraq for the next year, trading places with Dave, who just completed his 2nd tour in Iraq hell. Steve, Dave & Ken were inseparable in Officers Advanced Basic. Steve & Dave are Captain's now; Ken would have been a Captain, too.
As a Gold Star Mom, you never know when you are going to get slammed. You think you are having a perfectly normal day, but I guess there really is nothing perfectly normal after you bury your child who was killed in a war. This is my new normal and I swear that after nearly 3 years I thought I would have figured out what that is, but I haven't. Maybe that's the point, maybe there is no normal anymore.
Meeting Gold Star Families, speaking out publically against the war, walking the halls of Congress and taking to the streets.....that wasn't normal and it wasn't me. I thought my life was going to be one as a regular Mom living an ordinary life watching my son turn into the man I always knew he would be. Dancing with my son at his wedding as he gazed into the eyes of the woman he loved and raising grand babies (plural- Ken said he wanted 3; he even had the names picked out ;-) I guess it's not really up to us to decide how our lives will turn out or who we will be.
I received a note from another Gold Star mom the other day. She told me try to find some time to be Karen and not just "Proud Mom of Lt Ken Ballard- KIA 5.30.04" because that one moment should not define your life. She is wrong, of course. I am not the same person as I was before Ken was killed and that one moment does define my life. How can it not?