CONTINUED FROM “Death at the front door: Part I
Cooper and Buddy
Fortunately Lex is the senior Pharmacy Technician for a major drug store chain and I also have our family doctor’s cell phone number. I called him and explained what had happened and he called in an Rx for Lex to help her sleep.
Her older sister finally went home to her husband. Poor Stephen. My daughter just dropped the phone and said “Buddy got killed. I’m going to mom’s!” and left the poor guy there with their two year old son sleeping. My daughter told me they stayed up most of the night just talking about how unbelievable it was. The four of them had already bought their tickets and were planning on going for a two week cruise after Buddy got back home. Stephen said to my daughter, “Here we’ve been waiting for Buddy to get home and now he’s waiting for us to get home.” I thought that was pretty profound.
Lex’s best friends both stayed with her that night, one on each side of her in that queen bed, hugging her.
I went to bed but didn’t sleep a wink at all. I just layed there… so much racing through my mind. How could it have happened… him being the only one killed. He was the friggn medic! How in the hell do you let your medic get killed?! Those damn Muslims! No sir, no sleep for me that night.
Around two a.m. Lex’s phone rings… It was Cody one of Buddy’s close friends. Buddy and Cody had known each other since childhood and were in the same OK Guard unit. Cody said that Buddy was killed while rendering aid to three wounded Afghani Army National soldiers… that he had saved two lives before a sniper killed him with a single shot. They cried and talked for a while. Lex found was told that Buddy had never been left alone, there had always been someone with him he told her. He said he had never seen so many grown men cry so much for so long. Buddy was the first casualty in that unit in over fifty years. So, they end the call and Lex said that even though Cooper’s daddy had been killed at least maybe Buddy had saved some other little boys daddy.
Seems like it took forever for the next morning to get here. But it’s Tuesday morning and for several years now I have been attending a Christian business owners Bible study. I was there at 6:30. There are only about eight to ten of us and most of them had met Buddy and we had from time to time prayed for him as we pray at the close of each meeting. Of course that hour and a half meeting that morning was all about our family. One of the things that the death notification guys told us the night before is that it could take up to ten days to two weeks for Buddy’s remains to get back to the states. So all this time Lex is wondering… how messed up is Buddy? Will she be able to see him again… as she knew him or will it have to be a closed casket. So we prayed specifically for that that morning. I remember word for word that prayer. “Lord we ask that you somehow allow the army to get Buddy home so fast that they will be scratching their heads wondering how that happened.” That was around eight a.m. that Tuesday the 2oth. I don’t know what I would have done without those guys that morning. I got so much strength from them.
I think I was home around eight-thirty that morning. One of the first one’s over was Will, a good friend we go to church with. He came over with a huge cooler with various drinks iced down in it. I could tell he was very uncomfortable… not knowing what to say but needing to do something to try to help. What a friend. I joke with him to this day that he has an awesome “Cooler Ministry”. Honestly that truly was a tremendous help.
Early that morning I called a very good friend of mine who lives in Myrtle Beach (about an hour and a half away) and told him about Buddy. He took the day off from work and was at our house in less than two hours. We spent the day together. It’s all sort of a blur but emotionally so vivid. Scott had moved away a few years earlier but we remain close to this day. We have counted on each other during some very difficult seasons. I love that man.
Mid morning this army Sergeant comes over. He is Alexis’ Casualty Assistance Officer. He explains to her that he is her contact and that he is here for her for what ever she needs for as long as she needs. Lex is still wondering if there will be an open casket. He gives her the same answer, could be ten days to two weeks for his remains to get back state side. He was a nice guy and was a big help. One big question Lex had was, could they fly Buddy to Oklahoma for a memorial ceremony out there so his friends and family could say good by? The Sergeant explains the it is unlikely that the army would approve two services. Usually they only pay for one but he would make the request. After he left Lex determined that even if she had to pay for it with the life insurance money she was going to honor Buddy by letting him say goodby to his friends that he had grown up with all of his life. She wanted him buried here where she and little Cooper could visit him.
Later that morning another army guy comes by. Buddy and Alexis had taken out some kind of extra policy and he was there to give her a big check for incidental expenses. It was a big check… more than enough to fly Buddy to Oklahoma and back plus to fly our family out there and back as well.
By lunch time our church family began swooping in and taking care of various things. Man talk about food. It wasn’t long before our refrigerator was full so we began filling the freezer too. I don’t know what people do at times like this when they don’t have a close church family. All I know is things would have been a great deal more difficult if we had to take care of a lot of the things our church family did.
By afternoon the flowers and plants started arriving. I’m glad there were people here to handle everything so we just didn’t have to bother with a thing. We were just being nurtured and loved. Still numb really.
I got a call about mid-afternoon from another good friend (Tom) I used to go to church with. He only lives out in the sticks not that far out. He said he was going to take the next day off and spend it with me… was that okay? What a great guy. He is a general contractor who builds multi million dollar homes exclusively on “The Islands” and he never takes a week day off. What a blessing it will be to have Tom with me on Wednesday after having Scott with me on Tuesday.
It isn’t until now as I sit writing at this key board that I see how God was weaving that tapestry of protection around my aching heart.
Alexis’ phone rang around six-ish that Tuesday night. It was her Casualty Assistance Officer notifying her that Buddy’s remains had just landed in Delaware! Remember our prayer from this morning?
So at least Buddy was back in the states and he is still escorted by one of his good friends whom Alexis also knows from her year out there in OK. But will the army fly him out to Oklahoma for a memorial service?
TO BE CONTINUED in Part III