My name is Christine and I lost my only sibling, Daniel, on January 7, 2005.
He was killed in a Hum-V accident in Iraq. I was two days after his 27th birthday --
I was 29. I was so proud of his desire to be in the Army and he excelled in it.
The first time I saw him in his dress uniform, I cried -- he looked so handsome.
That was the day I picked him up at the airport after graduation.
When he left for Iraq, I hugged him and said the first “I love you" in many years. I thought if I loved him enough he would be safe.
The morning my mom was notified, she called me at 6:30a.m. to tell me. My life fell apart in an instant. I cried in my bed long and hard. I instantly felt completely alone in the world. Even with a husband and two small kids, I felt SO alone. I physically hurt all over. I didn’t know grief made your body hurt. I had no idea that this was only the beginning.
Due to military involvement, the days to follow were especially intense --due to the formality of military honors, etc. Uniforms and flags were everywhere it seemed. The hardest part was being taken to the airport by limo and military escort to receive him as he was flown home. I stood on the tarmac, surrounded by military and security, and watched my “little” brother’s flag draped casket be taken out of the plane by white-gloved soldiers. I could barely stand, but there he was.
I was told ahead of time that he would be wearing his dress uniform and escorted by a higher ranking solider as he made his trip home. Knowing this made the event unbearable. I looked up and people inside the airport were watching us from windows, probably having a very normal evening. This evening was the worst of my life.
The funeral came and it was so hard. I found that so many people did not understand my grief, asking often about my parents -- this made me angry. I felt like my past and my future were gone.
No one understands until it happens to them. I felt like there was so much ahead for us to share. My kids growing up and him being “Uncle Dan” as they called him and him marrying and having children of his own. Then the memories of our childhood -- I had nobody to reminisce with.
When I turned 30 three months later, it hit me harder than ever, not because of my age, but because I knew he would have teased me to no end. I was in a restaurant with my family and I opened my first birthday card -- I started hysterically crying. I just remember saying “I don’t want to have my birthday without him”. A month later I was in the hospital having an anxiety attack. I finally went on an anti-depressant, because my grief was making me sick. The coming months were just as difficult, but it seemed to get harder as everyone (co-workers, friends etc.) stopped talking about it. Nobody but my dear friend Chelsea understood me. Her story can be read on this site also.
It has been 18 months and it is still overwhelming and unbelievable to me. I wear a bracelet bearing his name and have a shadow box containing his military items in my house. I pray to have dreams about him, so I’ll know he is okay. I had only one so far. I hugged him in the dream; it felt so good, as I have longed to just touch him during past 18 months. I feel that unless your circumstances are similar, other people don’t understand. I recommend reading the few books out there on the subject and finding others to talk to. Please contact me if you’d like at firstname.lastname@example.org