When DH and I moved into our house, daughter A was a 1 1/2 year old toddler. A few months later ground broke on the adjoining lot and in moved a friendly couple with two pre-teens. The years went by and we watched those two kids doing all the things teenagers do. I can remember countless nights thinking their games of driveway basketball and conversations in the front yard would never stop! There was an endless parade of friends and family in and out of that home.
Bob and his sister eventually went off to college. The skinny young kid became a young ROTC officer. He embraced his role in the United States Army. He became a very proud soldier and officer who shared his parents love of country and God.
Bob went to Iraq. His parents heard the good things: the roadways he and his unit protected with their tank, the little kids who squealed with delight when they saw the American soldiers roll into their village. The e-mails he wrote to his sister told the truth: the daily attacks he faced, being spit upon by Iraqi citizens, the fear that would not leave him, and a nagging doubt that began to follow him.
And then it was over. Bob was home on leave and then returned to his unit in Germany. Basic training exercises are a part of a soldier's daily routine...and this day should have been like all the others. He became a victim when crossing railroad tracks in his tank, a high voltage line arched.
Bob received 3rd degree burns over 70% of his body. His face, upper chest, and arms were unharmed; his torso and legs were severely damaged. The civilian hospital in Germany is credited for saving his life. They also took his right leg above the knee. Bob spent the next four months in San Antonio, Texas at the Army's burn and amputee hospital. His fiancee left her teaching job in New York State to stay by his side. His father sold his business. His mother's employer told her to take as long as she needed. His sister delayed her wedding. And we prayed.
Despite the numerous skin grafts, infections, ventilator problems and problems too numerous to mention, Bob's parents remained optimistic. They often told us how lucky their son was in comparison to the other brave soldiers that were brought in day after day. Four months dragged by.
Progress was good, the skin grafts were taking. He was being weaned from the ventilator and moved to a "sitting" position for longer periods of time each day. All he wanted was to go home.
Bob died yesterday morning.
For what we now feel - there are no words.