It’s been several years ago now that my neighbor, Patricia Vigil, created this quilt for me. This is a very special quilt because it’s made out of all of my late husband’s shirts, both civilian and military. For those who don’t know much about quilting, as I did when we started this project, it’s a Log Cabin pattern. Beautiful, isn’t it?
Now I say ‘we’ but please understand the only thing I did on this quilt was provide the shirts. I gave them to Pat straight out of the closet. I knew I didn’t want to keep his shirts hanging in the closet forever, but I really wasn’t ready to get rid of them a month after Robb was KIA in Baghdad Iraq like my mother in law told me to do. So I let them hang for almost 3 years, then one day I asked Pat if she could make a quilt from the shirts. I didn’t know if she could do it, but I’d seen some of the other quilts she created and thought why not?
I gathered up the shirts from our closet (it’s my closet now) and all of his military shirts from the Robb’s military closet in the garage. When I handed them over to Pat, I really and I mean really had no idea what this quilt was going to look like. If I remember correctly, Pat told me what pattern she was thinking of using, but I couldn’t swear in a court of law to that fact. All I remember at that time was wondering what the quilt was going to look like. I had no idea at the time what Pat could do with fabric and thread.
Now that I’ve had the quilt for several years, I still look at it and can tell you where Robb wore which shirt. I can tell you if he wore that shirt to church, to the Brigade Ball, or on deployment. I can even tell you where I purchased a few of them. You can surmise that this quilt means a lot to me. Some day this quilt will go to my daughter, Robi, and then to her daughter, my granddaughter Madelyn. Robb loved his daughter so much, and he loved little Maddy to pieces. So I think it’s only fitting that the quilt goes to the women whom Robb loved.
I realize that for a lot of the military widows/parents/children out there they are experiencing grief, some more so than others. Everyone is at a different point in their grief. I get that, I really do. However, I see no reason what so ever to make accusations, point fingers, and be just down right mean to people whom are experiencing grief. Are we upset at the events in Iraq and Afghanistan right now? HELL YES we are. But still does that justify being mean to someone else? I don’t think so. Here’s why.
No matter where a person is in their grief, it’s theirs and no one else’s. Is losing a father, husband, son, or daughter that served in the military difficult? YES it is. I don’t care if the death occurred in Vietnam, in any present combat operations, or by an accident or suicide, a death is horrible to the surviving families. I’ve experienced both a combat death and death by suicide. Neither one has been fun or a walk in the park. ONE thing I’m grateful for is the love and acceptance I’ve found with friends within TAPS and in my local community. But this isn’t always the case.
Social media is a place where many of us go to express our grief, but it isn’t always the best place to go. I’ve been blasted by others because I voiced my thoughts. I’ve been accused, YELLED AT, and told I was an idiot. I’m not an idiot, I know this. I’m a grieving parent and spouse. The only reason I can reasonably come up with as to why people are horrible to others is that their own grief is so great they want others to feel the same way. What is odd in this thought is I’m pretty sure that everyone is/was at some point feeling that much grief they ache in their very soul. I know I have, so I’m sure others have as well. Another reason could be is they just don’t know how to express their grief without hurting someone else. Personally, I think the later is very sad. It’s sad for that person and its sad for the one whom is receiving the anger.
My advice for anyone experiencing grief due to a military death is simple. Stay off of social media. Start a blog and write about how you feel. You have much more control on who can view your blog and you can always block comments so you don’t have to listen to hurtful anger directed at you. Your grief is yours and yours alone, don’t let others hurt you more than you already do.