Isn't it amazing that there are significant life events that you will always and forever (good or bad) that you will remember every detail. Regardless the pain, I will never forget the night of December 1, 2010. That morning started out (for the most part) like any other day. I had a phone call at 2:00 am from Katie who had talked to Chad. She was so good about calling me every time he called and I told her I didn't care what time it was. At least I knew if she talked to him, he was safe.
I got to work that morning and immediately wrote him a Motto letter (it would get there a bit faster as I could send it electronically and they would print it off and hand deliver it to him). All day something just felt off. I couldn't really put my finger on it. I had tried to contact Katie several times during the day with no luck so while I wanted to panic that she was sick or something happened to her I remained calm as I knew she would eventually call me back. Finally on the way home from work Tebo and I were going to stop and get a sandwich for dinner and take it home and I finally got in touch with Katie. It had to be around 5:30 or so by now. I could tell in her voice something wasn't right. Then she asked to speak to Tebo and while she didn't tell him anything she just said we needed to get home. We drove home and Tebo was driving pretty fast and I just reached over and pat his hand and asked him to slow down. He said why, I said, something is wrong and I just need a few more minutes. We continued driving home and when I got there Katie had asked me to call her back from the house. I did that. Suddenly the doorbell rang. My heart literally sunk to the pit of my stomach. I told Tebo not to answer it. He said, I have to babe. I said, can you tell if they are in uniform and he said, yes babe, they are. I said please don't let them in. It's not good. He opened the door to see 3 Marines in dress blues and I just starred at them for a moment. They confirmed who we were and then they told me my baby boy would not be coming home alive. I know they used better words, but that was the message I heard. My baby wasn't coming home. I just bawled. I looked at Tebo and said, I knew this deployment was different and he agreed and just held me. He said he thought Chad felt that way too. There are spots of that night that are lost in my memory, but the next thing I remember is telling him we had to go find daddy and tell him in person. I couldn't do that over the phone. I didn't want to tell anyone else until my parents and siblings and Tebo's kids had all been told and I desperately didn't want anything posted on Face Book until I knew for sure our closest family had been notified. I don't even remember the drive to daddy's, but I knew there was a chance he would be at church, but we stopped by the house first just in case he didn't go. We walked in and immediately my bonus mom knew something was wrong. We told her and we cried and I said I have to get to daddy. We walked in church and they got his attention and he walked out to the vestibule and when I told him he just buried his head in my chest and stomped his foot. He was so broken. Then my sister and brother in law came in and the cries will never be forgotten. We left and went home and a dear friend at church kept Peanut and Scooter until we could get our thoughts about us. We went to daddy's where I called my sisters and had one of my sisters go to mom's house and tell her in person as I didn't want her to hear over the phone either. We gathered ourselves the best we could and Tebo drove back home. I don't remember the drive home either. I just know he held my hand and let me cry. The next few days were a blur. We had our Marine escort with us to Dover and throughout the entire dignified transfer and when Chad arrived in Northwest Arkansas completely through the funeral. They continue to check on us even 3 1/2 years later. They are family now.
I will never forget that night. I will never forget that pain and sadness. As I type this with tears flowing from my eyes all I can think in my head is my baby boy is not coming home alive. It still does not seem real. I keep thinking I will wake up from this horrible dream, but I never do. Every morning I wake up and that is the first thing that pops into my head, my baby boy is no longer here on this earth. I still truly can't comprehend this thought, but it is my new reality. I function (well, best I can), but there are days where I am literally paralyzed with sadness and grief and I don't quite know how to put one foot in front of the other. I guess it's just a good idea that walking is a natural act after a certain age or I'm certain I wouldn't move some days.
This is just because my heart is aching for you so much every day and today is especially harder for whatever reason. I love you big as the sky Chadman and not a moment that I am breathing goes by that you aren't missed desperately.