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I thought about not posting this because it seemed like a bit of a downer, but then I decided that Memorial Day *is* a day for remembering.

Joe has two friends who have died in Iraq. I was not particularly close to either of them, but I think about them a lot. The first one was Matt. He died pretty early on in the war - I think he was ambushed somewhere near Hadditha. I met him once before they left. At his memorial service, everyone talked about how friendly and easy going he was and what fun it was to work with him. He was in charge of logistics movement for Joe's unit the first time they deployed. I know Joe feels bad because he used to joke with Matt that the Iraqis (I don't think they were called insurgents then) never went after the hard targets, like the headquarters where Joe worked, but instead went after the soft targets - like the convoys that Matt managed and led. I know his father is still alive. Matt wasn't married and didn't have children, although that doesn't mean that there wasn't someone special who misses him.

The other guy was named Josh. Joe didn't really know him, although they interacted on a regular basis. Josh's death is special to me, though, for a different reason. When I went to pick up Joe from Iraq the first time, I ended up being there on the wrong day. I felt REALLY dumb. So when I went the next day, I was still feeling dumb and sort of awkward. There were two other women there with signs and balloons. One of them was waiting for her husband. The other was her good friend and she was just there for moral support. This was Kim - Josh's wife. She was exactly the sort of friend I'd wished I'd had - someone upbeat and excited and willing to be there even though it wasn't her husband that was coming. I told her this and she said it was the kind of thing she'd do happily for a friend. I can't imagine what it's like to see your friend's husband walk out of the plane and not yours, even though Josh was still alive at that point. Anyway, she was kind enough to take pictures of Joe and I when he got back and she mailed them to me later with the kindest note, about how great Joe was and how she appreciated his update on conditions in Iraq.

I think about Kim a lot. She and I were in very similar places back then. Her husband died maybe two months after I met her, in a roadside bomb. I can't even imagine what that would do to you. I hope she is happy, but no matter what good things await her, she will always have lost her husband.
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It's pouring rain outside. I love it when it rains here. It's (relatively) cool and it rains really hard with great thunder and lightening. Unfortunately, the power also tends to go out, but that's not all that often.

I've been thinking a lot about how it doesn't seem like Memorial Day weekend. It's not really anything more than a government holiday here - sort of like Columbus Day - a day off but not much else. There's no tradition of summer cookouts, military rememberances, and super sales. It's also not really the beginning of summer. It's hotter than last month, but it's always summer here. I'm not in school so there's no sense of the year ending. I'm not complaining, just noticing how things are different. On May 31st, it will have been one year since we left NC.

We may have some friends over Monday afternoon. Hopefully we will grill and hang out in the pool. That should make it feel like Memorial Day.

ION, Ellie and I had a great time in Miami. Ellie was great on the flight there, sleeping part of the time and then eating and watching Little Einsteins on my laptop. (I'll put with with tiny fingerprints to keep her happy on the plane.) I had a nice drive up to Jupiter (I got to go 80! and listen to NPR!). I went shopping with Joe's mom and she bought me some nice work clothes. I love TJ Maxx so much and I actually found pants long enough for me. Ellie and I then collapsed at home.

I hit the road back to Miami at 5:30am the next day, after stopping at the drive-through Starbucks. I listened to NPR again the whole way. My training, the reason why I went, was actually informative. I was familiar with the topic, employment based residency petitions, but it gave me some in depth knowledge I didn't have before. Joe's mom said she and Ellie had a great time together and Ellie was smiling and laughing when I picked her up.

I think the highlight of the trip for Ellie was the bus ride from the rental car lot to the airport. She couldn't stop smiling and pointing to all the other buses and talking about them. I guess the plane was old news (although she was also very interested in the planes), but this was her first time on a bus.

We had three empty seats next to us on the plane. I felt so blessed by that. Ellie was able to stretch out and sleep towards the end of the flight. She spent the rest of the time snacking and watching the Einsteins again. It was such an easy flight. I picked up my luggage (all the stuff we bougth the night before wouldn't fit in my little carryon) and we arrived home around 11pm. In all, it was a great little trip.


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June 2012

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