Tuesday, August 24, 2010

This Is My Story

Sooooo,lacking the emotional energy to be original tonight, I will post something that I wrote out 8 months or so ago. This is my story.

"August 25, 2009"

I just realized the other day that I had not yet recorded the events of this day. Even though it was the most horrible day of my life, I am convinced that I am going to want to read this and remember in the years to come. Go figure….

I woke up that morning with a long list of things to do. I was trying to be productive. I needed to get a box off to Cory that I had been procrastinating for awhile. I ran around town trying to gather pictures, treats, etc. to put inside the box. I also dropped off a birthday present for one of my Beehives, Cassandra Cridlebaugh. I was in a really sentimental mood that day, so as Reagan napped, I looked through all of our wedding and engagement photos. I felt soooo close to him at that time. I laughed at the goofy pictures of us and I wondered over the experiences we had been through up to that time in our marriage. We had grown so close and still had years and years to grow old together. I finally ran the box down to the post office. The worker there told me it was better to use a flat rate box, so she sent me away to re-pack it. Instead of going straight home, I drove to the gas station for some gas and bought a bag of Funyuns and a cherry Slurpee. I drove around aimlessly until I had finished it, just thinking about my life and feeling a little lonely. When I got home, I decided to take Reagan for a walk to the library. I wanted to check out some books on cooking for one and baby development. We wandered around the library for awhile and then walked home. It was time to feed Baby Reagan, so we sat down in the rocker in her room to nurse and opened one of the books on baby development. Just a couple of minutes after we started, I heard a knock on the front door. I thought that was strange because I wasn’t expecting anyone. I quickly made myself presentable and dragged Reagan to the front door. I peeked out of the little window to see who was there. I thought I saw two men in Class A green uniforms, but one of them looked to be the chaplain that just moved into our ward. I swear I did not know what was coming when I opened the door. I opened the door to see Chaplain Coleman and Captain Harmon. I remember thinking that CPT Harmon looked really scared. I said “Hi! Come on in”. I went around turning on lights so that we could see in the front room. I was feeling REALLY nervous and anxious, but couldn’t put my finger on why. I figured that if the guy from our ward was here with another military person, they must be doing some kind of military/church liaison program. I sat down and invited them to do the same. The chaplain sat down, but Captain Harmon would not. Then he started in on his script. “Mrs. Jenkins, the Secretary of the Army has asked me to express his deepest regret that it is believed that your husband, Captain Cory Jenkins, was killed in action in Afghanistan August 25, 2009”. After that, things get a little fuzzy. I remember that I latched onto those words “believed to have been killed”. So, they aren’t sure? There is a chance he is still alive? Captain Harmon went on to explain that they were on a reconnaissance mission and they were hit by an IED. Everyone in the vehicle was trapped and they all burned to death. A million questions went through my head. WHY was the PA on a reconnaissance mission? This didn’t make any sense. I was sure they had him mixed up with someone else. But, in my heart of hearts, I knew. It was the thing I had feared and almost knew would come since I first found he would be deployed to Afghanistan. So, instead of asking all of my questions, I just said “Oh My God” over and over and over. I sat on the couch and clutched Baby Reagan and felt my whole world fall apart. I sobbed and moaned and cried oh my God until I was too tired to do it anymore. Chaplain Coleman said some things about remembering the promises I had made with my husband. It rang true, but couldn’t sink in at the time. In a strange out of body way, I felt really bad for Captain Harmon for having to be responsible to bring me this horrible news. He looked like a little boy who was about to cry the entire time. Captain Harmon asked if there was someone I would like him to call to come over and be with me. I told him to call Tiffany Mortensen, my first and closest friend since moving to WA. The chaplain also volunteered to call the Bishop and Relief Society President. I did not want anyone to see me this way or be told the bad news, but I new it would help to have these leaders around me. When neither of them were home, he volunteered to call his wife Carolyn, who came right over. With each new person who walked through the door, I could feel myself fall apart as I told them with the expression on my face. I know I must have looked like a train wreck. Chaplain Coleman volunteered to give me a blessing, so Tiffany called her husband Jon to come over and help with the ordinance. When he arrived, they gave me a beautiful blessing. I can’t remember much of anything that was said, and I felt so numb at the time that it didn’t seem to penetrate, but I know that it helped. Jill Beyler later wrote down all that she could remember so that I will have those blessings recorded. After all of the formalities that the military had to do, I decided that Jill, Tiffany and I still needed to go on our walk that we had scheduled that afternoon. It seems a little irrational now, but I just had to get out and get moving to get my mind off of the pure insanity of the situation. Jill and Tiffany determined that they would stay with me that night at my house. I put Baby Reagan in the front pack carrier and we walked around the lake. It was so strange, almost like any other day, except that there was only one thing on my mind. We talked about random trivial things. I just needed to focus on something else. I also had this really strong desire to find out what was going to happen with us financially. I felt really guilty, at the time, to be worried about such a temporal matter, but it was so consuming. I think I was obsessed with this because I was in a fight or flight mode. I was fighting and that included figuring out how we were going to survive. After our walk of a couple miles, we went to get pizza at Little Caesar’s. On the way there, I called my family to tell them. I was dreading calling them so much. I really did not want to break down on the phone with them and then have to put myself back together again. I determined to try and make it quick and painless, like removing a band-aid. I called my mom and said “Mom, I have something to tell you that I need you to call and tell the rest of the family”. She said OK. I said “Cory has been killed. Can you please tell everyone?” She said “Brooke, No! What happened?” I told her I couldn’t go into details just then but just to please relay the news to the rest of the family. When I got off the phone, I felt a measure of relief that this task was done with. We got the pizza and brought it back to eat. People began stopping by the house (President and Linda Stevens and the Pattersons). They all stayed for awhile and chatted and shared a message and brought ice cream. I dreaded the time I had to go to bed that night. I knew that the quiet and the time by myself was going to be like torture. I set my friends up in the TV room and then went to my room. I lay there for about 30 minutes and knew that this wasn’t going to work. I came out and set up a bed in the TV room with my friends. I just lay there and watched TV and talked a little to my friends the entire night. I think that I slept less than an hour. At one point, when I thought Jill and Tiffany were asleep, I let myself go for the first time. I pulled the blankets over my head and felt the pain and the loneliness wash over me. I sobbed great big gulps and my body heaved. I was doing all this as quietly as I possibly could, but Jill reached out and grabbed my hand and told me to just let it all out. I cried until it hurt. I did that several times that night. I also remember watching a very early morning (3 am) news broadcast that announced that 4 unnamed soldiers had been killed in Afghanistan. They showed video footage of the burned out stryker. This image tormented me in my dreams. I don’t remember too much after that first day except there were a lot of visitors, which wore me out. I bought a plane ticket to go home the morning of the 27th. I also decided that day that I would move back to AZ and live in our house we had there.