Sunday, January 29, 2006


Dear Gabe,

I'm still riding high on the after effects of your call this morning.  What a perfectly wonderful way to begin the morning.  You sounded so good, and so close.  It was hard to believe that you are half a world away, you sounded like you were right down the street.

Dad has been working like a madman uploading music on to your laptop.  Warning: your buddies might accuse you of being an old fogie!  But don't worry, its not all old stuff.  He raided Art's cd's as well and has some of that goofy stuff Art calls music... I don't know, you'll probably like them cos there's a lot of screaming and non-musical noise like you listen to in a lot of them.

I was so happy to hear that you are no longer driving around in those hmvees.  Too dangerous, and they definitely didn't meet my MSSS (Mother's Safety Specification Standards).  Your new mode of transportation does.  Now, no more trips outside the wire unless you're in the new War Wagon, or buddy, you're grounded, got it?  You may be a big bad soldier, but I'm still your mother and you will do as I say or else!

Your friend has opened both eyes now but doesn't seem to want to focus on much of anything.  The swelling on his brain is so much better, and while he still has a fever, its stabilized.  I've been reading a lot of amazing stories about guys who suffered the same kind of injuries and are up and walking around now.  I'm sure he is another miracle in the making.

Thank you for writing to your baby sister, you made Rocky's day.  She's taking your deployment the hardest, mostly I suppose because you always stuck up for her when her brothers and sister would pick on her.  Now when she has a bad day, I'll find her sitting in her room crying for you.  There's been no crying this week though, she is in Heaven... and being able to hear your voice this morning has her absolutely floating!

Okay, well, time to start organizing the photo files so I can start transferring them to your laptop.  Hopefully it will be in the mail and will be in your hands in a couple of weeks.

Miss you, love you.


Friday, January 27, 2006


Dear Gabe,

Great news, Kayle has agreed to bring Zachary out for a visit in May when you come home on mid-tour!  Yahoo!  I am so excited I can't sit still!  I don't know how I'm going to make it until then, you know how impatient I am.

By the way, your son is fine.  He just had a touch of the stomach flu.  I guess it went through the whole house over there.  We've got our own little epidemic here, Big Zack missed two days of work and Rocky is now home from school for the second day in a row with a fever, sore throat and body aches.

Dad got a call from the personnel office in response to his application for the Range Control job.  All he needs to do is pass a physical and the job is his.  Needless to say he is very VERY excited.  He has wanted a job there for so long.  Besides, the stress at his current job is turning him into an old man before his time.  Now he'll be able to get out in the area he loves so much and knows so well.

Your buddy opened his eye the other day and was even breathing on his own for a couple of hours.  His fever went down, another great sign.  I don't think he wants to miss the Seahawks winning the Super Bowl, and they WILL win you know, if for no other reason then for him. 

We received a brochure in the mail the other day from the Army National Guard.  I assumed it was for Zachary but I was wrong.  It was for Art.  For a second I was angry, I mean REALLY angry.  He's only 16!  16 is too young to understand what a commitment to the military entails.  16 is too young to even begin to think about that kind of future.  But again, I was wrong.  Your baby brother wants to join just a badly as you did, and your dad and grandfathers did.  And he will join when the time comes and I will be just as proud of him as I am of you and your other brother who has chosen a different path.  I just pray for a swift end to this madness so that no more lives are put in harms way.  Take care of the mission son, and come home safe.

Miss you, love you always,


Thursday, January 26, 2006

YAY MAY! (hurry up and get here!)

Dear Gabe,

News of your trip home in May is already getting folks around here very excited.  Dad called Kayle last night to see if she would be able to bring Zachary out during that time.  We're waiting to hear back from her.  Zachary was sick so she was getting ready to take him to the doctor.  Wish I was closer to them so I could fuss over him as well.  Sometimes I feel so helpless as a grandmother.  Oh well, I'll just have to spoil him twice as much when I do get to be with him.

Your friends are both recouperating well.  The one in Bethesda has come out of his coma and is showing some signs of response to voice and stimulation.  He's still not fully conscious but hopefully that is just a matter of time.  As for Doc, hopes are that he will be in a wheelchair by Friday.  He's still in a lot of pain, but he's a Rakkasan and you know how they are.  He'll probably be up and running around in no time.

Rocky is so proud of her hunter's safety card.  She's already used it and got a cottontail with her little .22 Cricket.  Dad made nuggets out the 4 rabbits she, Art and he shot and let me tell you, they were tasty!  They'll probably go back out this weekend to get more to make bunny burgers for our Harvest feast. Don't know that there will be any kind of season open when you get here so we'll have to get you out fishing just so you can throw something on the table even if you aren't here for the feast.  You should be back safe in the states by then, and thats good enough for me.

Until then, as always... miss you, love you!


Wednesday, January 18, 2006


Dear Gabe,

I love this picture of you and Little Zachary.  You'll have to tell me what you were singing.  Can you believe that he is already a year old?  I can't wait to see him.

Today is Day 2 of Rocky's Hunters Safety Course.  She is so nervous about not passing the exam tomorrow.  Poor thing.  She'll do fine I'm sure.  She's not the youngest either, there is another 11 year old in her class, a boy.  I'll bet she out shoots him!

We'll be getting another box sent out this weekend with those socks in it as well as a couple of books dad picked up for you.  Let us know if there's anything else you need or want.  I ordered a bunch of boxes from the postal service so now I have lots of boxes, all I need to do is find things to stuff in them!

Well, as always, you take care.  Miss you and love you.



Friday, January 13, 2006


Dear Gabe,

I know you couldn't tell me earlier the names of your injured friends, but I was able to figure out who your roommate was and just wanted you to know that he is safe in the states now, with his family at his side.  His dad is keeping a journal that gives an update on his condition.  He is still in a coma, but they are optimistic.  It sounds like he has a great family.  It sounds like you have a great friend.  He is in very capable hands now so don't worry about him too much. Hopefully by the time you come back on leave, he will be recouping at his own home and you will be able to visit him there.

We all went to Poor Richard's Used Book store.  Do you remember that place?  I took you there once and you spent the whole time in front of the Calvin and Hobbs shelf.  Art was the same way today.  He ended up buying two of those books, and one of the Far Side.  Dad got some military books, and I got a bird guide and a bug book to take with me when I go out with the camera.

I upset your dad so bad today and had so much fun doing it.  He met Zack and I for lunch but had to go back to work.  I told him that we were going to visit the petstore across the parking lot before we went home.  When he finally got home after work I asked him if he wanted to meet 'the newest member of the family'.  Oh buddy, you should have seen his face!  I let him think we brought home another critter for about a minute... or until I couldn't hold back my laughter any more.  I thought his eyes were going to pop!  Hahahaha!  Too funny!  They did have a chinchilla though and if I had the money I would have bought it, he was so cute and fluffy with big black eyes.  Your dad is soooo lucky I don't make a lot of money!

The Broncos play the Patriots tomorrow night.  Of course, you know where I'll be... at work!  Agh!  Oh well, at least I have Super Bowl Sunday off.  Our 22nd wedding anniversary is the day before that, on the 4th.  22 years.  Wow!  It seems like just yesterday that your dad was picking his nose for the camera man at our wedding.

And here it is, after midnight again.  I've really got to set a routine and stick with it.  Wake up at 6am, drink lots of coffee... go to work, come back home, eat supper, and be in bed by 10.  That gives me 8 hours of sleep.

Hahaha!  Yeah right, like that will really happen!

Miss you Gabe, Love you always.



Wednesday, January 11, 2006


Dear Gabe,

I get so many touching and supportive comments here and on Dust Bunnies from people who state that they can't imagine what I must be going through.  This is just a brief summary of what I go through each and every day.

I log on the computer almost as soon as I get up.  Most mornings I try to get the coffee going first so as not to appear too anxious.  Some mornings I go straight to the computer... usually after several days of not hearing from you.  Your dad teases me sometimes, but he knows why it is so important and he patiently awaits to hear whether there is news from you or not.

I am always elated to see your name in my mailbox, but I open the email with caution now.  Too often of late your letters have arrived bearing tragic news.  Even when you don't put the words down, I can tell by the tone of your letter if something is wrong.  A mother can sense these things.

After checking my mailbox I will check the status on my mail sent to you.  I look forward to a date and time on the status window.  Lately there have been days where the emails sit marked (unread) for days.  I already know the routine, that usually precedes bad news.

I leave the computer on until the very last minute on the chance that you might log on while I am home.  It is always with great reluctance that I finally log off and leave for work, many times speeding to beat the time clock.  My lunch hour begins with me speeding home to log back on to check if you have written or read your mail.  Once again I wait until the last minute to log off.  I am tortured by the thought that you might be signing on just as I sign off.  I hate that I might miss a chance to talk with you.

I would love to devote my entire day watching for your name to appear on my buddy list.  In the early days of your deployment I did, but I have learned to step away and tend to the others who still need my attention.  Rocky and Becca have their moments and I must be solid for them.  I have all kinds of optimism for them, and they are easily consoled.

At work I listen to the young wives who struggle to cope while their husbands are deployed.  I coach them, I console them.  I hug the mothers who share my vigil.  I shake the hands of the vets who have done their time.  I am a proud and strong patriot.  Others come to me for support.  They don't know how vulnerable I feel.

I should listen to my own advice, but many nights I sit in front of the computer, trying not to focus on the words that I don't want to read.  Sleep is either elusive or unrestful.  I no longer dream, I don't dare.  Instead I close my eyes and let the darkness muffle my thoughts.  I wake up as tired as I laid down.  Coffee has become an instinct, not a habit or pleasure.

I have begun surfing the internet for all the information I can get so I can better understand what you are going through but cannot say or write.  The reality once shook me with uncontrollable grief.  Now I read with intense but controlled sadness.  I want to say so much more to you in our private letters and here online so others might also understand, but I don't dare for fear of jeopardizing you or others in some way.

And so when someone askes me how I am, I smile and say 'Fine'.  And when they ask about you, I smile even harder and say 'Oh, you know Gabe, he's fine too', and they smile contentedly because that is what they want to hear.

But there is no exaderation on the number of well wishes and prayers sent out on your behalf.  If prayers were feathers you could fly home son.  But you have your mission so may the feathers instead envelope and protect you until you can come home.

Miss you so much, love you always,



Monday, January 9, 2006

BOOTS ARE ON THE WAY, and the kindness of strangers.

Dear Gabe,

There was one last pair of boots your size at the supply store.  I asked the guy there to hold it for 20 minutes so I could get the money from Dad.  2 hours later I finally tracked down your dad, got the money transferred and bought the boots.  I had to squeeze them in a little box, which is all deformed, but they're on their way.  You should have them in a couple of weeks.

Dad and his friend Rob have been trying hard to find you some new uniforms, but they don't sell them here at Carson yet.  They put the word out and one of dad's friends from the SFG has volunteered one of his own uniforms.  We should get it tomorrow so that will also be on its way to you soon.  I also sent another box of 15 gun cleaning kits in the mail with your boots.  You can thank the Unit Armour Instructors Dennis and Bill for those.  I've still got tons of cleaning patches from them.  I'm stuffing them in boxes to fill up space but if you need more just say so and I'll send them all your way.

I never cease to be amazed by the support you guys, and we as family members, are receiving from our fellow Americans.  I am so proud of each and every one of you there, but you know what?  I'm so proud of just about each and everyone back here who have been proudly displaying their support and patriotism.  Don't believe all the bad press, it is great to be an American, and your country loves and cherishes you.  And know also that your fellow soldiers who are fortunate to be home at this time, are doing what they can to ensure that you guys over there get what you need.  So you just let us know if there is something you need, and we'll see about getting it to you.

Have you been able to read all of the comments here lately?  Several have brought tears of pride and gratitude to my eyes on more than one occasion.  I no longer consider these readers to be strangers, they are all a part of a wonderful support group that I am so proud to be a part of. 

Be safe my son.  Look to your buddies for protection, look to your heart for understanding, and look to the stars for guidance.  You are never alone.

Miss you, love you.


Sunday, January 8, 2006


Dear Gabe,

Every day now it seems the list is growing.  I worried that I was becoming desensitized, I was afraid that I was getting used to death.  I read that a helicopter went down today.  The Band of Brothers, they said.  How sad, I thought.  101st, your dad emphasized.  And I cried.  And then I cried harder because I wasn't sure why I was crying.  I didn't know if I was crying for them, or for you... or for me.  Later I realized that I HAD cried, that I still COULD cry.  That brought me such relief, oh Gabe, you don't know how good I felt afterwards.  It was as if a thorn had been pulled out of my heart and while the wound bled, the pain was gone.

I hate that you are witnessing so much horror and tragedy.  I am so happy that other than your camera, you are fine.  I worry about your bloodstained uniforms.  You're 21.  Your clothes should be stained with grass and barbeque sauce.  You should be ducking footballs and water balloons, not bullets and shrapnel. 

Your dad and I had a nice talk.  Actually I cried and dripped snot.  He listened and pretended not to notice the mucous.  I am so confused about how to feel right now.  I don't remember being this afraid when he was there in '90.  I guess circumstances are different.  The kids were younger, he was older.  I didn't know better.  The war was farther.  His unit wasn't suffering casualties.  Its just so different.  I'm coping though, I really am, so don't worry about me.  It just takes a little longer for things to sink in and for me to react. 

Your brothers and sisters are great.  They are so proud of you and the Military over there.  They have had to deal with some insensitive, ignorant kids at school, but you know them... they set the others straight real quick.  No worries here.

So you just take care of yourself and your buddies.  Do what you have to do, and come home safe.

Miss you tons, love you always,


Wednesday, January 4, 2006

Dear Gabe,

I was so happy to read your letter yesterday.  We hadn't heard from you since Christmas morning and I had a bad feeling.  The email made it all better, but as I told your dad, there was something different about it.  I worried that something bad had happened again. 

My day was topped off by the arrival of two cards from Kayle containing pictures of Zachary.  She had let him scribble on both cards and the pencil scratches made me cry.  My grandbaby had written his first letters to me.  Seeing new pictures of him and you also did my heart good.  I smiled all day.

I could have left it at that, I should have left it at that, but I had to know.  And now I do. 

I didn't shake and sob like I did the first time.  I didn't stare numb with fear and grief as I did the second time.  I just sat and read the words that informed me... another casualty... your unit's numbers glowing like a neon light, the soldier's name, glowing gently in solemn reverence. 

I wonder about his family, I worry about them.  I hate how calm I am now after just a few months and the few but great losses you and your unit have already suffered.  I hope my calmness is not misinterrpreted as a lack of caring.  Why didn't I cry last night?  Why couldn't I cry last night when I felt such a deep sadness.  Is it possible that I am getting used to the tragedy of war?  Can anyone really get used to war?  I don't want to believe that of myself, and yet I am no longer devastated by death.  That worries me.

I'm sorry Gabe, this must be a garbled mess to you. I didn't sleep well last night.  In fact I'm not sure I slept at all, I just closed my eyes and breathed.  There was no comfort in the darkness, just a jumble of questions whose answers eluded me.  I pray for your safety son, I pray like I've never prayed before.  I pray for the others safety.  I thank the Great Spirit for miracles, great and small... some we see and those we don't realize have occurred.  And I pray for the winds of change to blow Peace across the land and into the hearts of those who keep this war necessary.

Be safe Gabe, and come home soon.  Miss you, Love you always,


Sunday, January 1, 2006


2006... Wow!  Another year has passed by and yet to me it feels like just another morning.  Got the coffee brewing, the rest of the family is still asleep.  Miss Joann let me off early, and then Zack ran in the house just before midnight... the overnight manager bribed them and they finished up real quick so they could get off before midnight.  We did a few fireworks left over from the 4th of July but other than that it was real quiet in the neighborhood.  Still, it was nice to be together, with the exception of you.

Your dad said Kayle called yesterday and may call again today... hopefully when I'm home from work.  Little Zachary loves the Nemo blanket we sent.  I thought he might, it was so soft and cuddly.  I wonder if he's going to drag it around the house like you did with that nappy old blanket you had.

Its so beautiful outside today, I wish I didn't have to go in to work.  I'd love to be out walking around with my camera.  I'm loving the new lens dad got me.  Unfortunately, now it seems like I never had time to work on any of my pictures.  I'll probably have to wait until school starts back up in a couple of days.  It will be nice once the house gets back into the normal routine... what ever that is.

Hope you were able to have a nice little celebration to ring in the New Year.  Hope the New Year brings good change for the people of Iraq so that you can spend the next New Year in your own country.

Miss you, Love you,