Sgt Michael Martins. The most amazing person I have ever known. My husband. My Marine. We had everything we could have wanted. After two year long deployments to Iraq we thought we were safe. Out of harms way. Little did we know that that everything would change on November 6th, 2009. To my eternal love - No star in the sky will burn longer than my love for you.
It really does. Just when I think I have a handle on my grief, reality comes and bites me in the ass. I realize all over again, that I really don't have a handle on anything and that Michael is really gone. Sometimes I get complacent in my bubble of numbness and I just absent mindedly (is that a word?) think that Michael is at work or he's deployed. It's only when I really think and really connect the dots together that I realize that Michael is dead. He died.
In the beginning, all I wanted to do was look at pictures of him, stair into his eyes because that's what got me through. That's what comforted me. Now, when I look at pictures I see the happiness and love that we shared and I realized that we will never physically share that again because Michael is dead, he is gone. Then it starts all over again the hot iron is stabbed through my chest, the shortness of breathe and the tears.
Last Friday was just a baddd day. I had truly felt as if I had taken one step forward and then reality pushed me 5 steps backward. I was driving to FGCU for my orientation. Traffic was sort of heavy because I pass by a school where kids are being dropped off. Out of nowhere, I see a white hearse. Just like the one that transported Michael from the airport to the funeral home to the church and then back to the cemetery. I automatically had flash backs from all of those scenarios. Going to the airport at night and going out onto the tarmac to watch his casket being taken off the airplane. It was so cold that night and I had a long black dress on that didn't help. I remember thinking that I should have been on that plane with him. I should have been there to escort him home. I remembered riding behind the hearse on the way to the cemetery after the funeral. I didn't cry at the funeral. I took a heavy dose of xanax and I was completely numb. I got up and gave the eulogy and didn't cry. But on the way to the cemetery riding behind my husband something inside me snapped and I was hysterical. The xanax was wearing off and I was feeling it more than ever. It all hit me like a tidal wave of emotion, all of those memories came fleeting back. It was just as painful remembering as it was to live during that time.
Then as I was sitting at orientation, I realized that this is another chapter that I am beginning without Michael. I will be graduating from this school soon (maybe the end of next year if all things go as planned) and Michael won't be in the audience. He won't be there to help me study for exams, go over flash cards with me. He won't be there to read over my papers. He won't call in between classes. I am embarking on this alone. I am finishing something that we started together, and he won't be here to see me through. It was a struggle to hold it together in a room full of strangers.
Then that afternoon, my brother came and visited me from Miami and we went to go see the new Harry Potter movie. Michael loved Harry Potter. He read all of the books and saw all of the movies. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows was the last book Michael read and he wanted to see the movie soooo bad. I remember we went and saw the Half-Blood Prince together last year (YAY! I still get to say "last year"!!) and we were wondering if the next book would be split into two movies. I saw the preview for the movie a couple of times before and every time I saw it, I started to cry. How is it fair that I will be watching a movie that Michael wanted to see so bad? How is this movie here, but my husband isn't? Before the movie started I told my brother that Michael really wanted to see this movie and he replied "You know he's here watching it with us". I have a really good brother. Him saying that meant a lot to me.
It's just been a struggle since last Friday. I feel like I am a million years old. Having all of those feelings and memories come back bring along Mr. Depression and his sidekick Anxiety. Ohh and how I hate those two!
Well yesterday was another day that was sort of bittersweet.
November 11th, 2005 was the day Michael and I officially started dating... again.
We dated for about a month and a half the January before while Michael was home for Recruiter's Assistance in between MCI and MOS school. We were in love, but we knew it wouldn't work out. I was about to graduate high school and start college and he was going to California eventually. We knew it was just bad timing. So we broke things off. We started talking again that September. We would be on the phone every single night. We fell for each other all over again. It was maybe the 3rd day after we started talking again when Michael asked me to be his date to the Marine Corps Ball in November. I immediately said yes. I didn't think about the costs or what to expect, I just said yes because I knew it felt right. Michael always said that he didn't want to ask me to be his girl friend over the phone, because he felt like it was so important to ask me face to face. Even though, we would tell each other "I love you", I still wasn't his girl friend until I saw him.
November 10th, 2005, I flew into San Diego. He was there waiting for me at the air port and if you have ever flown into San Diego, you know that when you go into the baggage claim area, you have to come down a set of escalators. As I was coming down that escalator I saw Michael's beautiful smile and I knew right then and there, I couldn't live my life without him. When I got to him he gave me the biggest hug and kissed me. Well it turns out that Michael was so excited to see me, he completely forgot to ask me out! The next morning, we got up and we were getting ready for the drive to Las Vegas and I looked at him and said "Michael, you forgot to ask me something" so right there in his barracks room on San Mateo on Camp Pendleton, Michael asked me to be his girl friend.
Once we finally got to the hotel in Las Vegas were the ball was being held, we had to quickly start getting ready, or we would be late. Michael realized that we were given the wrong room, he had reserved a king sized room, and we had a queen sized room. So he went down stairs to straighten out the mix up. When he came back to the room, he told me to pack up because we were moving. We got moved to a pent house suite! I was so shocked. In order to get on the top floor, you had to have the room key to stick in the elevator. Once you were on the floor, you had to use your key to go through a golden gate to get into the hall way. The room was fabulous! It had a huge living room, kitchen, dining area, and the room we were staying in was huge with a comfortable bed you wanted to stay in all day. We really got luck.
The ball itself was really fun. We got to drink (mind you we were both 18 years old), we danced a lot. The first dance that we danced to was Elvis Presley's "Fools Rush In". It really was an amazing night.
It was so hard leaving him at the end of the weekend. I didn't want to go home. I knew from then on out, that my place was to be right next to him. We knew that we had this huge deployment right around the corner but we were confident that if we could make it through that one year of being apart, then we could make it through anything. We were able to sacrifice a year because we knew that we had the rest of our lives to be together. When Michael finally dropped me off at the airport, he called me when he was back in his car and he was crying and he told me that he didn't know how he was going to be able to tell me goodbye for a year.
November 11th was also the day that we held Michael's memorial Service at MCAS Miramar. I didn't realize that the day would have two meanings until my sister pointed out to me that it was the same day as our dating anniversary. There was no way around it, it had to be that day. We had to get Michael home.
That day tore me up. The memorial service was done so nicely. And all of our friends from Miramar and from my work were able to be there. A few of Michael's officers got up and talked about him. We found out a lot about Michael that he never knew himself. He never bragged about his job or what he was doing or what a good Marine he was. He never realized what a huge impact he had on others around him. His friends, his Marines got up and talked about him. The final roll call is what killed me. You always see it in movies, but you never think that it would be your husband's name they are calling out.
So yesterday was definitely bittersweet. I thought about him ever second of the day. It's not like I don't normally, but I thought about how we were when we first started out. What are hopes and dreams were. And now how all of that has changed. What I would give to have him back. The finality of it all is really starting to sink in and its unbearable.
Yesterday my dad and my sister came to visit. We went to the cemetery and stayed there and talked for a while. We went to a Barns and Noble (our first kiss was outside of a Barns and Noble) and while we were in there I heard "Fools Rush In" play. I knew it was Michael. I knew it was him. It may have just been a coincidence with timing, but I want to believe it was him.
I love you Michael. Thank you for making me the happiest girl. Thank you for being my best friend. Thank you for your service to our country. For your 5 1/2 years in the Marine Corps, I know you wanted more. But thank you. No star in the sky will burn longer than my love for you.
I wanted to take a few days to digest this past weekend before I wrote about it. It's hard to describe how I felt on Saturday. Yes, it was an extremely sad day, but it was not the saddest I have experienced. I think Michael's birthday was the worst for me by far. On his birthday I wanted to do something fun, that I knew Michael would enjoy, but it was too hard knowing that he should have been there. He would have been 24, but he will never be able to experience anything beyond 23. Saturday wasn't as bad as I had expected it to be.
I got up that morning and ate breakfast. I had intended to go straight to the florist because I had ordered an arrangement a couple of days before hand. But Michael's mom called me to see if I wanted to go to breakfast. I went and just sat with them at Ihop. Then afterwards I went to the florist, picked up the arrangement and then went to the cemetery. I sat there for a while, just talking to Michael. I got him a card and I read it to him. Then I went home. I didn't really know what to do. When I was home I stayed outside and played with Koby for a while. Did some stuff around the house, read, and that was it pretty much.
That evening I went over to my in-laws house, my mother-in-law was home alone so we looked through old pictures. We decided to go to dinner so we went to an Italian restaurant. I ordered something I knew Michael would have loved. I ended up having a little too much to drink but I figured it was ok considering what day it was.
The next day we went to mass that was being said for Michael. I've been to other masses that are said for Michael, but this one was harder to sit through. The priest that say was talking about what happens when we die. I just said there really thinking that Michael is gone. Michael will never come home again. I think it sank in a little more that he is actually dead. He has experienced something that most human beings are the most fearful of. He just can't write home about it. The gospel that day was about a widow (how fitting right) and if that widow does not have a child by her husband, and if the husband had a brother, then the brother of the husband should marry the widow and try to have a child with her so that the late husband's name will be carried on. I just laughed because Michael's brother was in the row behind me with his wife. After the mass I went up to him and told him that since the bible says so, we need to get married. That was probably the funniest thing all day.
Afterwards we went to breakfast with the entire family. It was nice but I felt a huge part of me missing. Whenever the family gets together it's always like that. I always feel like something isn't right. After breakfast we all went our own seperate ways. I went back to the cemetery because I wanted to take some pictutes since I didn't get the chance to do so the day before.
I picked to use orange and red roses for the arrangement.
Orange because on our first anniversary Michael sent me orange roses while he was in Iraq.
Red because I carried red roses at our wedding.
Something new they just put up before the Veteran's section of the cemetery
I couldn't resist the opportunity to take a picture like this.
We didn't have one taken at our wedding.
The newest addition to Michael's mausoleum space.
It came out great, but it's harder now to go to visit him,
the picture just makes it even more real.
I just can't believe one year has passes. I would think to myself, that one year is such a long time to go without seeing him. And then I think that the day after the one year mark will be the longest time I would go without seeing Michael. The same goes for a week, month, year after the one year mark. So I sort of made myself ok (as can be) with that day being the longest I have gone without seeing him, because everyday after that will be the longest time I have gone, and there is nothing I can do about it.
Another downside to the one year mark is that I can't say "Well, last year we did this...". I don't even know what to say anymore in that situation because today, last year, Michael was already gone. It just sucks.
Today I am putting together a huge collage of pictures for a Veteran's Day memorial service that it being held at Michael's middle school on Veteran's Day. They are doing a special dedication to Michael and they have ask me to put together something for the ceremony. It should be nice.
I don't typically do these sorts of things, but I am in the mood to have a little fun this morning and I found a really cute new blogs that inspired me :) Thank you to Brittany @ Life of The All American Army Wife for giving me this award and inspiring me to have fun this morning!
So here are the rules for receiving this blog award:
Rules 1. Thank and link back to who gave you the award. 2. Share seven things about yourself. 3. Pass it along to blogs you've recently discovered and enjoyed. 4. Leave the recipients a note telling them about the award.
Ok so 7 things about me...
1. One of my favorite things to do is sit at the airport (not in the actual airport itself, but outside) and watch air planes land and take off. I don't know why it fascinates me so much but it does. I think maybe because I don't understand it. I don't get it how a huge heap of metal can fly through the air.
2. I have a spare bedroom that has many 10 boxes in it that I still have yet to unpack and I have lived in this house since March now. I don't know why I just can't unpack and really settle into my house but it's on my list of things I need to do before the end of the year.
3. Ok so my car (the car that Michael used to drive) has a 6 disk CD player in it. The first 2 slots have been free since before Michael died, so I only use those two slots for my CDs. The last 4 CD slots Michael had his own CDs in there and I haven't been able to listen to them or remove them for the whole year. Well on Saturday, the one year mark, I listened to his CDs and I remember how much I loved his music and how much I have actually avoided to listening that type of music. It was bittersweet because I was able to remember some pretty funny stuff aboout Michael, but I knew that I'll never get to see him play his air guitar on the steering wheel, spend hours trying to learn lryics to songs, or sing like a rockstar while driving down the 5 with the windows down.
4. I swear I have the best dog ever! Koby is such a sweet dog and I know that I am his favorite human (he was totally a daddy's boy though). He's such a good boy and I am so happy that I have him.
5. For the past few weeks I have been reading the Sookie Stackhouse books by Charlaine Harris. These are the books that True Blood is based off of. I absolutely love them! There are 10 books in the series so far and each of them is a page turner.
6. I hate the holidays. Period.
7. I am so anxious to start school again. I miss it. I miss the stress of study guides, papers, taking notes, and exams. And I am so close to finishing too and I am ready for the next chapter, school wise.
Ok so I need to pass on the blog award. Mandy has been one of my widow friends since the beginning pretty much. Although we have never met, I feel like I know her and Dan like I would actually know them in person. So go check her out :)
This is the story of how one year ago my life changed forever. I wrote it for the American Widow Project's website and I know I have linked the website to my blog, but I just wanted to post the whole story on here.
November 6th, 2009
This Friday morning started out… off, weird, different. Michael would always always always wake me up in the morning to kiss me goodbye and to tell me to have a good day and that he loved me. This morning, he didn’t. I woke up feeling weird. Why didn’t he kiss me?
I got up and started to get ready. That morning I was scheduled to go into work for a couple of hours to make phone calls to previous patients to schedule their annual eye exam. I was good at getting people to return to our office, so it was normal for me to go in for a couple of hours in the morning before school to make phone calls. Friday’s were different, I didn’t have school. I had made arrangements to meet up afterward with an old friend to catch up.
As I was getting ready to go to work, I got out of the shower and went into our room. I walked into our master bathroom (we always showered in our spare bathroom, it was bigger and more awesome) and I looked in the mirror and I saw Michael behind me smiling. I screamed bloody murder! He scared the crap out of me! Not only did he creep into the apartment without me or the dogs hearing anything, but he managed to strip down to nothing and he was staring at me in the mirror with a huge grin on his face, waiting for me to notice him. We both cracked up and he hugged and kissed me. I asked him why he didn’t kiss me before he left. He said that he got up early to PT with his Marines and that he did not want to wake me.
Watching the clock, I continued to get ready and Michael jumped into the shower. I got dressed and I went into the bathroom that he is showering in to do my makeup. When I’m finished, I told him that I am leaving. At this point I was running late. Michael opened up the shower curtain and he’s running down the list of questions -
“What time do you get off work?”
“What are you doing afterward?”
“Are you still meeting up with Tarra?”, he asked. “Yes, Michael, I am still meeting up with her”, I replied. He smiled and said, “I wouldn’t be friends with her again, she’s fucking crazy”. I laughed and said, “Ok, Michael, we’ll see”.
We kissed and we hugged (yes, we hug, yes, I got wet). I went to work. When I got there, I text him to ask him if he’s still home. Yes, he’s still home. I asked him if he can feed the dogs, I forgot to feed them. A few more texts were exchanged, even a couple of short phone calls too. And of course, One more set of “I love you’s”.
I got off of work a little later than I expected, at 12. I called my friend to let her know that I’ll be late, she was running late too, so it was ok. We planned to meet at a mall that is pretty much half way in between our place and hers. I got there a little sooner than I was supposed to - which was fine because if you’re not early, you’re late (right?). I found the place of where we were meeting - Panera Bread. I went to the restroom, then I decided to go out into the mall to wait for her. I saw her walking up. But she’s was on the phone and she looked pretty tense. I stood there for about another 2 - 3 minutes while she was still on the phone. I figured out that it’s one of our mutual friends. But there was a problem. But she didn’t really tell me what’s going on. She just says that “Vanesia said that there was an accident and you need to call Michael”. I was thinking “why would I need to call Michael, if Vanesia’s husband was in an accident?!”. So I called Michael. No answer. Things started to whirl around me. I started to freak out. I demanded that she tell me what Vanesia said. She couldn’t give me an answer because she said that Vanesia was hysterically upset and she couldn’t understand a word she said. She got on the phone again with Vanesia. As she was trying to get an answer out of her, she told me to call Aaron, Vanesia’s husband, one of Michael’s best friends, the guy he used to go out with and try to pick up girls with during MOS school. It was like the pieces were slowly starting to fall into place. It was like a stage with a whole lot of people standing on it in a room where the lights start to go down and the only light left on is this huge spot light and it’s only hitting one person - me - but all in slow motion.
I called Aaron, he refused to tell me what was going on. He told me that I needed to call Sgt. Beller. I called her. But I had the wrong phone number. I tried to call her again. Nothing. I called Michael’s office. Nothing. I called Aaron again. At this point I am shaking uncontrollably, I am short of breath, and I have tears in my eyes. I have no clue what was going on, but I knew something bad had happened. I got Aaron on the phone again and this time, I demanded to know what was going on. I can tell by the tone of his voice that he is really upset. He says in a shaky voice “Allison, Michael was killed in an accident on his way to work”. I lost it. I start screaming “WHAT!? WHAT?! WHAT?!?”. I’m still in the mall and at this point we are heading towards the door out to the parking lot. It couldn’t be true. How could this have happened?! He’s home. He came home from two deployments, this isn’t possible. He’s supposed to be safe!
I hung up on Aaron. I had no clue what to do. I knew that I needed to talk to someone who knew what was actually going on because this wasn’t real. This didn’t happen. I needed someone to apologize to me for mixing things up and having the wrong Marine. I started to rush through old emails to find an email from our FRO (family readiness officer). She always attached her number to the end of her emails. I called her. She answered her cell phone. I said “I’m Sgt. Michael Martins wife and I just received a phone call saying that my husband was killed”. She very apologetically says that she was sorry that I found out this way, and she hands the phone to Michael’s First Sergeant. He explains to me that they were forming a CACO team and they were on the way to my house. No - this isn’t happening. He said that Michael was at the hospital that they could either meet me there, or meet me at my house. I had no clue where the hospital was so I said that they should meet me at my house.
During this time, my friend and I are racing to her car. There was no way in hell that I could have driven myself. I would have driven myself straight into a concrete wall if I had the chance to. I called everyone. My sister. My Dad. My mom. My step-mom. My step-dad. My brother. I was advised not to call Michael’s family because a CACO team was being formed in Florida to notify them as well. I finally get home. But there weren't any Marines there to tell me that my life was over. I didn’t know what to do. I couldn’t just go up to my apartment and just turn on the TV and wait for two Marines and a Chaplain to stop by for a visit. I stayed outside and I start pacing my parking lot just crying and shaking. Finally they arrived.
They are walking through my parking lot towards me. They stop in front of me and my CACO reads from a piece of paper “Mrs. Martins, we regret to inform you that your husband, Sergeant Michael Martins was killed at 0930 this morning on his way to work on Miramar Road”.
The next thing I remember we are in the car heading to the hospital. There’s still hope right? Maybe they have it wrong. Maybe they were misinformed by the hospital and the doctors. We walked through the doors of the hospital and through long stretches of hallways with white walls. There were people passing us and in door ways and they knew. They knew more than I did that my husband was dead. We get to the ICU and we were met there by a nurse. She very rudely tells us that Michael has already been transported to the medical examiner. I flipped out on this lady saying that they had no to right to move him without my consent. I don’t remember much. I just remember being moved into a small office because I was making too much of a commotion. I was met by his nurses and doctor. They all told me that nothing could be done, that Michael felt nothing. That he want quick.
During this time, I staring a whole into the wall in front of me with tears running uncontrollably down my face. I felt a warm sensation throughout my whole body and I knew at that moment that it was Michael. I told the Chaplain that I didn’t believe in God. How could a God so loving ruin our lives? Everything in our life was perfect. I was finally settled in a major that I loved. I was finally doing really well in my classes. Almost all straight A’s. I had a job that I loved. I was making good money. Michael was only one more step away from being accepted into the Marine Enlisted Commissioning Education Program (MECEP) in order to be able to go to college for four years and then he was going to live out his dream as a Marine Corps Officer. We had an amazing apartment and awesome friends. We had our own little family that consisted of two dogs and a cat. We were hoping to add more (of the human variety) in the future. Most importantly, our marriage was finally getting on the right track. After two year long tours in Iraq we were finally getting into the groove of things. We had the comfort of knowing that we had at least a solid five years with no interruptions. We were extremely happy and extremely in love. I quickly learned that the statement “we make plans and God laughs” was so true.
After getting back from the hospital the details of everything started to fall into place. Michael was on his was to work, on his motorcycle. We was on a pretty populated road, going with the flow of traffic. An 81 year old man decided to make a left hand turn right as Michael was in front of him. Michael had his helmet on. Gloves. Jacket. The whole get up. Michael was the safest motorcycle drivers I knew. I trusted him so much that I would beg him to take me out on it. Which isn’t like me because I was terrified of motorcycles. But Michael made me feel safe. Our friends from his previous unit started to hear about what happened, they would call hoping that what they heard was wrong. Friends, neighbors and family started to pour in. There was no way that anyone was going to leave me alone. That night I realized it. As I was sitting in the middle of the couch, dazed out of my mind from the shock and antianxiety medication, staring a whole into the wall in front of me and as soon as I realized it, I said it - “I’m a 22 year old widow”.
We flew Michael home to Fort Myers, Florida and we laid him to rest on November 14th, 2009. To my husband Michael - my love for you is eternal. No star in the sky will burn longer than my love for you.
I have been wanting to write, but I don't know how. I can't seem to form the words to express what I am feeling or what I am going through. I guess you could say I am speechless.
I never thought I would get to this point. I never thought I would make it to a year without him. If you would have asked me while Michael was deployed if I could make it a year with no communication, no new pictures, nothing at all from him, I probably would have punched you in the face for thinking of something so ludicrous. I would not have been able to do it. I could barely do it then when I had the phone calls, emails, and skype sessions. Now I am amazed that tomorrow, it will be a year. With nothing at all but the pictures that I already have and the dreams that I have been blessed with.
Part of me wants to scream and cry and curse the universe for Michael being gone. But I know that will do nothing at all. I know no matter how many tears I cry, no matter how many times I tell myself that this can't be real, it will do nothing to better the situation. I can't beg and plead with God to give him back. I know it won't happen. So what can I do?
I have no clue. Maybe that's why I haven't been able to write, because I don't even know what to think myself.
I just remember the days following the accident, saying that this couldn't have happened. Michael was safe. He had a helmet on and helmets and supposed to save lives. He took 3 drivers safety courses. We were supposed to have 5 uninterrupted years together. He wasn't deployed! He was home and he was safe! This couldn't have happened. I still catch myself saying that. I did it the other day. Maybe it's just my brain trying to process everything. Because I still don't believe it.
I just want him back. Life is most definitely not fair.