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, 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.
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.