Sunday, May 27, 2012

Air Show

 I have a love hate relationship with Memorial Day weekend. I love that people remember and honor Brad more than on your average day. But it's also an emotional roller coaster weekend for me. I usually get a little pissed, missing my old memorial days spent with my sweet husband.   I'm usually grateful and a bit angry, sad, lonely, happy and proud all at the same time. It kind-of wipes me out. I never realized until I lost Brad how draining emotional roller coaster days can be.

This weekend our good friends came up to stay with us and go to the air show. We met them while we were in Florida and, while we don't see each other a ton; it's one of those friendships that just picks up where it left off.  I love seeing them. They remind me of my perfectly blissful days with Brad in Florida. They were in town for the airshow. Amanda  had asked if that was something I would be interested in going to - I love that she is sensitive enough to know that it would probably be something that was hard for me, but still asked just the same.  I told her that we would love to go and that it would be much more fun going with them.

I was trying to mentally gear up for it all weekend. It's funny how even the littlest reminders of my old life with Brad kindof knock the wind out of me. On the night they arrived in town the sight of Jeremy's patch filled green bomber jacket on my front room floor caused me to catch my breath a little. And flooded back memories of Brad in his identical jacket.

Flightsuits are the worst. I rarely go to base and have to mentally gear up when I do. It's mainly because flightsuits are everywhere. A guy had one on in Costco one day and I was not prepared to see it. I was walking around bawling like a crazy person and trying not to hyperventilate.  I LOVED Brad in his flightsuit. He was so sexy in it. I would tell him so every time he wore it - which was everyday. I would make this little whistle sound and tell him that he was SO hot and would he please turn around?  He would laugh and say that I was nuts. But I know he loved it. On mornings when he was on earlies he'd leave about 4:30 a.m. He'd come say prayers with me and kiss me goodbye and tell me he loved me while I was still in bed. I would make that little sound while he was walking away and he'd laugh the whole way out to the car.
(yes... I know. Feel free to drool. It's impossible not too)

So Saturday we went to the airshow. Walking in all these memories came flooding back. Being out on the flightline, seeing the jets, kissing Brad after his 1000 hrs in the Eagle, fini-flights. The last photos we have of Brad are at Red Carpet day at Sheppard two weeks before the accident. He ran around with 2 yr old Sophie and showed her the jets. He loved that one of her first words was "umplane" which quickly evolved into "daddy umplane" anytime she would hear a jet overhead. She was certain that every one of those was her daddy. (and sometimes it was.)   Addie was 6 months old and I followed them around in the stroller while he put her in the cockpit and hung her from the nose. Sophie was having a blast. I love that memory. I am so grateful we went that day. But it made my heart hurt thinking about it on the flightline on Saturday.

I used to have an almost panic attack when I was around things that brought memories flooding back like that. It's getting better, but I still have to remind myself to breathe. There was a point on Saturday when I was starting to lose it and I was scolding myself. WHAT was I thinking coming here? Why was I putting myself through this? I missed him and our old life so much I couldn't breathe. The panic attack was coming on...

And then I looked at our girls.

The little girls were so excited to be there. They wanted to see Daddy's plane, so we walked first over to the F15's. Sophie walked all around and touched it everywhere she could. We lifted her up as high as we could get her so she could touch as much as possible. They were jets from Mountain Home AFB, so she was excited when I told her that Daddy had been stationed at that base.   Sophie wanted to know  what each plane was and what it did. Both she and Addie waited in line to try on the pilot gear. (which made me laugh because we have all of it at home..helmet, g-suit, gloves, vest, boots, the whole thing.)

They had a big bin of free plastic jets. I got to watch Ty explain to the little girls what type each one was and what they did.  Addie sat out with me while the Thunder Birds performed and loved it. She kept asking, " Is daddy's plane louder and bigger and faster than those? And I would say yes and smile because I KNOW Brad LOVES that she knows that.

So this is why we come. I want my girls to be so proud of what Brad did. I want them to gain an understanding and appreciation of what the Air Force does. And what it takes to be a pilot in the Air Force. It's the tip of the spear. The best of the best. I want them to know how much their daddy loved flying and loved serving his country. It makes me sad that Sophie and Addie don't get to experience it first hand through Brad like Tyler did; but I will teach them about it the best that I can.

So we will go to air shows and I will force down that panic attack by watching our beautiful girls.

We had a fun BBQ today with my amazing family and wonderful friends. My mom worked her butt off to make darling patriotic desserts in honor of Brad.

And tomorrow we will go to the cemetery and I will NOT hate this day. We will celebrate this amazing man whose love still carries me, calms me and reminds me what is really important.
We will celebrate our HERO.
 Major Brad "Gyro" Funk.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

4 yrs

Yesterday marks the four year anniversary of Brad's death. I have felt this day creeping up. It stresses me out. I don't really despise or hate this day. Some people may find that interesting. The only reason for that is because I feel that Brad is closer on May 1st. (and that's saying something, because I feel that he is with us pretty much always) The past 3 May 1st's have shown me that miracles happen on this day. Like maybe he is granted permission to be a little more...tangible... on that day because of the meaning it holds for us.  Because of the pain involved with it.  May 1 2008 was my worst nightmare come true. But the May 1st's since have been different.  It is a tender mercy day now.

I still wouldn't say I really like this day though. I can feel it creeping up all of April. It's almost subconscious. I am usually more stressed and emotional and conflicted about it.  It marks another year without Brad. And that always makes me sad.

This year was extra interesting in the events leading up to this day.  About a week and a half ago the diamond fell out of my wedding ring. This ring incident deserves a post of it's own; but I will just say this for now:  Brad had designed the ring and had it made for me, he surprised me with it and it is safe to say that it is my most prized possession. (if you don't count photos)  I was devastated to find the diamond missing.

A few days later $3400 worth of fraudulent charges showed up on my debit card. Mainly just a pain in the butt and a time suck. I know it will be worked out; but it's still stressful.  (still waiting for that refund)

April 30 I decided to get some much needed work done in the yard. We were out there all day. I watered the newly planted flowers and the girls kept wanting to turn on the hose after I was done. I asked them to please not mess with the water.  We came in about 8 p.m. and got dinner and I went downstairs to get some supplies so they could make something to take to the cemetery the next day. On the way into the craft room I found myself standing in a hall full of soggy waterlogged carpet.  I could hear water running. Addie had turned on the hose outside hours ago. The hose has a sprayer on the end  - so I guess that combined with a cracked pipe makes a soggy, flooded toy room, closet and storage room.

And I kindof freaked for a minute. I yelled for Ty to help and my mom was here. We got the water turned off and hauled all the soggy toys out.  I got mad at Addie for turning the water on, and at Sophie for going in the closet where all my teaching stuff is that she knows she needs permission to touch. (about 50 soaked books on the floor were the result of her visit)  I Trashed a bunch of my best books  and then I sat down to cry. I remember saying aloud - Are you freaking kidding me? One more thing? and TODAY of all days! I had planned to go to the temple tomorrow and I just wanted a nice peaceful day to go to the cemetery and be with my girls. Now I was going to get to deal with this crap instead.

I sat there and cried for a while. My sweet little Sophie timidly came up to me. She said with a shaky little voice, "Mom, it's going to be ok. Do you know why? Because I just said a prayer." and then she started to cry a little.

 And she melted my heart.

  I pulled my little girls close and hugged them. We talked about how it is important to obey, but that it would be ok. That it was just stuff. And stuff can be replaced or we can just go without it. That's it's not really a big deal. People are always more important than stuff.  I said my own little prayer for help to calm down and know what to do and started to get to work.

Within a few hours this thing I thought was such a big deal really was ok. Between my parents and my awesome brother in law (who takes care of basically two lawns and two homes and is always there to help with whatever) and good neighbors who brought fans - it was ok.

On my way to the store to rent a carpet cleaner (really good at getting water out of carpet by the way) I was thinking - At first I had been so pissed that this had happened on this day.Because it was one more crappy thing that had happened in the last week or so and I was at my limit.  Because it was going to ruin my plans for tomorrow. - But I realized on that quiet drive when I had time to think -  What better day to be reminded that when something goes wrong how blessed I am to have people that drop everything and rush over to help. I have amazing family and friends and neighbors. What better day to be reminded that I am not doing all this alone.  And what better day to remember what really is important.  And that it's not stuff.

I vividly remember in the weeks following Brad's death thinking, all this crap we spend our time on everyday is meaningless. And we worry about it, and try to get more of it. Stuff. stuff we spend our time on and our money on. None of it matters at all. None of it is important.  In the moment when something that really IS important happens - everything you thought was such a big deal just immediately falls away. And the things that really matter are crystal clear.  For me those things we my family, and my knowledge of the plan and where Brad was and that there is more than just this life. My knowledge of my Savior, Jesus Christ and that because of Him, I would be with my sweet husband again.  And covenants that I was so grateful to have made. I have thought many times since how lost and hopeless life would be now for me if I didn't have that knowledge.

Thanks to my wonderful support system I got to keep my plans for May first. I got to have a date with my husband at the temple. I got to stand in the room where we were sealed and know that he is still there with me through all of this. I know he is RIGHT HERE with us. He still influences us and helps us and we feel his love lifting us and carrying us every day. And I know he feels our love as well. And that makes me so happy.

I got to be with my family and do everything I wanted to do on this day. I got to read kind notes from family and friends showing that they love and remember Brad. I got to hear his voice on a hud tape posted by a student pilot he flew with. (tears of Joy accompanied that) :) It was a day where tender mercies abounded. And it was the best May 1st I have had yet. And I appreciated all of it a little more.  And I think sometimes that right there; appreciating it - is the point.