Time heals all wounds or so the saying goes. 33 years and life events have healed so much of the sorrow but the wound still tends to bleed at unexpected moments. Quiet moments when my heart overwhelms my mind. Where life and my former life seem to simply collide. It might be as simple as a helicopter flying overhead or a photo in my memory making an appearance. A happy moment when I'm rocking my son to sleep. A bumper sticker on a car in front of me or the chaos of my children playing. A visit with my mom or a call from my sister. I have to remind myself that with each breath I take I have an opportunity to do it with honor.
February 18, 1979 my life forever changed when the crew of the 1432 left Coast Guard Air Station Cape Cod to rescue an injured Japanese fisherman from his ship. Despite harrowing conditions and problems with the aircraft 5 men suited up and flew into the night to save a life. The details are written in history as they lost power during the hover and were sent to the raging seas. One brave soul surfaced from the wreckage and 4 gave their lives in the service of others. My father was one of the pilots who didn't make it home. All five members of this crew are heroes in my eyes.
Four little girls lost their fathers that day. Wives lost husbands, Mothers & Fathers their sons. They were brothers, uncles, friends. They gave without thought for their own mortality. My father a mere 33 years old. 3 years ago I had the honor to give an address on behalf of my sister & The Burge girls. I had just celebrated my 34th birthday and was struggling with living longer then my father. I was 2 months into the birth of our sweet William and overwhelmed at the thought of ever leaving my children. I took a moment at that time to truly look at the opportunities that have been given to me. I chose that day to always try to live my life with JOY & HONOR. For many years one boy, turned man, lived with the guilt of being the soul survivor of that fateful night. On that day it was our turn to tell him he didn't survive alone. We each faced loss and we each were given the opportunity to survive.
Today marks 33 years without my Dad. 33 years to learn and grow from his loss. 33 years to find my place in this world. I have struggled with the thought of writing yet another memorial post and eventually came to terms with what I wanted today to be. I would like others to learn about these great men and then go out and honor their memory. Do one thing today and do it with honor. It may be something simple. Capture a memory in your mind. Share a secret with your children. Go to a movie as a family. Play with your kids and really relish the act of doing so. 11 years ago I was given a much needed reminder to live for the living. At midnight when the 18th turned 19th I went into labor with my precious Cody James. I believe he was a gift from my father, a reminder to live with Joy.
What seems a lifetime ago I was given the opportunity to write my father a letter. My beautiful friend, Kelly Johnson, started a project known as the Dear Robin Project. It is an opportunity to say the things you wish you had the chance to say before your loved one left. I was Kelly's first letter submission and re-read my letter today. Thank you Kelly for giving grief a voice. At 4 I had no words or even understanding to grasp the weight this loss would have on me. Because of your gift, I can finally share my thoughts. My Letter to my Dad...