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.

11 comments:

kimberly said...

Brooke, thank you for sharing. I am truly grateful that you were able to have so much support...people to stay the night, hold your hand, try to keep your mind distracted during an impossibly horrible day. I can't imagine what that must have been like to go through because losing any of my family is my absolute biggest fear in life. I hope you have plenty of people to hug you tomorrow and give you a shoulder to lean on if you just need to have a good cry. Oh, and the movie Taking Chance is next on our Netflix...we will be sure to watch it...

Jill and Cameron said...

Oh Brooke, what a powerful story, thank you for sharing, that must have been very difficult. You are such an amazing woman and such an inspiration to me. I know we were never best of friends but I wish desperately that I could have been there to help you, to hold your hand, to hug you and say I'm sorry. You and Reagan are still in my daily thoughts and prayers. Especially tomorrow.

Allison said...

Thanks for sharing your story. I've been thinking about you and the Jenkins family, knowing this day was approaching. You are in my thoughts daily, and I hope this day can be a celebration of the wonderful things he accomplished on this earth. Someday you'll be with him again, I know it. I love you and miss you!

Rachelle said...

Oh my...I write this comment with big ol tears in my eyes. I dont remember reading this before now. Brooke, I am soooo glad you had your friends to be there with you that day. I don’t feel as though I have that here in Delaware and the fear of being alone if I lost Brian scares me like nothing else. I am sooo glad you were not alone. I know you know that you have so many people who love you and Reagan so much...I have thought of you all week knowing that this day was coming but for some reason I was thinking it was the 27th though. I woke up this morning thinking of you and something made me get on line and check. You are my hero Brook you are an amazingly strong woman. I am so proud to be an extended member of your family. <3

Mary Postert said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mary Postert said...

Thank you for sharing Brooke. I have been wanting to ask you to share this story for so long but have just been too chicken to ask. How ridiculous is that? I love you tons and will be praying extra hard for you today.

Jeremy said...

Brooke, you are so strong, cried when I read you story. You are in my prayers.

Landon and Jill Beyler said...

I remember that night and the days to follow and I remember I just wanted to hug you and tell you how much I loved you- I had no idea that since that time going through that with you I learned what REAL LOVE through service can create. I wish I could hug you today and tell you that the love I feel for you today and since that day is the love of one sister to another.

Griff-Fam said...

You are so brave to share this post with us all. What wonderful women to be there with you as Sisters to love you and support you on such a tragic day. I miss those ladies! I think of you often and recall how I always admired you. When I first met you, I told Roland how excited I was that you guys lived up the street and I hoped you would want to be my friend, even though I doubted I could keep up with you! I was so impressed with you and Cory's zest for life. I'll never forget the Root Beer tasting, and just thinking Cory was so funny. I'm glad that we were able to know him for a short time, and he was able to influence our lives for good!
Thank you for sharing your memory of that day. As hard as it is for you to remember and others to read your account of how you felt, I learned a lot from it. Sending our love!

kimber said...

Brooke, thank you so much for sharing, I love you. You were on my mind all week.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your writing. I think of Cory often in the sense that he was what is good in our world. As I struggle with my sense of spirituality and understanding the universe I know few things. One is that Cory was good; in every sense I am aware. I wear a paracord bracelet everyday to remind me of him and all that is good in this world. Seeing you wear a similar one the evening of his wake convinced me of the need to have one. If I can be of any assistance please don't hesitate to contact me: even if it is to help with an errand or take your mind off something. I took Cory shooting. I'd love to do the same for you. jeffreymikesell@yahoo.com