Saturday, April 14, 2012

Tragedy Through My Eyes

On September 20th 2008, my husband experienced the most horrific tragedy in his life.  Working overseas in Pakistan, he nearly lost his life in a suicide bombing.  Miraculously he survived the catastrophic bombing, but has suffered ongoing side effects since that horrendous day. 

He arrived in Pakistan on a 40 day job assignment, only to experience tragedy three days later. The first time I heard his voice over the phone, it was sheer anguish.  All he could utter was, "I'm okay."  But was he really?  Would he survive his injuries?  Was his heart slowly beating now but after we hung up the phone, would his life suddenly fade into eternity? I had no answer.  I was told that he was involved in an accident, had facial lacerations, a doctor would be doing stitches and that he would be okay. But his voice....all I could remember was his anguish as he lay in a corner of a chaotic Pakistani hospital trying desperately to hold on.

As time slowly ticked by, more and more of the story began to unfold.  Much of it continued to remain a mystery, such as his whereabouts.  I sat at home helpless, waiting and hoping for the next phone call to come.  I wanted to be with him but I had no idea where he was or how I would get there. 

The answer was clear....Terrorism.  A 1,700 pound bomb exploded throughout the luxurious Marriott Hotel killing at least 60 people and wounding more than 250.  As the bomber drove up to the heavily guarded hotel, he detonated more than a ton of explosives leaving a 30-foot deep crater.  It's a good
thing I didn't hear those details and the fact that my husband just arrived at the Marriott and was sitting in the parking lot, 35 yards away when it happened.  If I had seen the photos of that parking lot, that almost every vehicle was completely demolished, I would have lost all hope of him ever
surviving. 

Due to the sensitive nature of the work my husband was doing, I was not able to share details with anyone.  I lived in fear of saying what I shouldn't, but wanting and needing to be comforted as a wife who lived through her own personal tragedy. I didn't know what I could and couldn't say, yet I needed prayer from people in my church and from my close friends and family.  The gravity of the situation was horrible and yet I had to suffer a little more silently than I would have liked to.

Travel arrangements were finally being made so that I could join my husband at the hospital.  He would be flown to Landstuhl Hospital in Germany,  a place I was very familiar with after having lived in the area for 8 years. I was picked up by a special escort who led me to the place where I would finally get to see my husband. 

As I walked slowly down the corridor, heart pounding, not knowing exactly what my eyes would see, a man walked slowly down the hall in my direction. When our eyes met, an incredible feeling washed over both of us.  He had no idea I would be coming to Germany and he was overcome with emotion.  We embraced for a few moments taking in the reality of what has happened, and
then made our way back to his room.  I gazed over his fragile injured body that had received numerous wounds and injuries both internal and external. He had multiple wounds and his face was imbedded with glass and shrapnel. How he was physically even able to walk down the hall I don't know.  I wanted to hold him and kiss his lips, but was afraid to cause him even more pain.  Every part of his body appeared swollen, especially his face.  This was the beginning of a long road to recovery.

The days and weeks at home passed slowly.  Most often our days were spent driving from one appointment to the next, seeing a different specialist for each separate injury. The healing was slow but steady and appeared to be moving in the right direction. Some appointments were not planned but came suddenly when a piece of glass would seem to be working its way around the eye causing discomfort, and therefore had to be removed.

Before long, my husband was back at work doing the job he loves.  He didn't   reveal the extent of his numerous injuries to anyone for fear he would be kept from the work he longed to do.  He loved his country and was willing to fight for it and die for it if necessary. 

As life went back to normal, ours eventually did too.  But the long term effects of that type of injury is something we were not aware of.  We did not think that progress in the right direction could take a sudden turn. That is the day to day reality we are living in now. 

Succumbing to the inability to control the pain, the desire to want to live a normal life yet unable to.  Being at the mercy of a body that has moments of wanting to fight and moments of wanting to give up because the pain is unbearable.  Desiring to take that prescription medication just to ease the
pain, but hating the fact that a day can't be lived without it.  Frustrated and angry over not being able to do all that came so easy before.  Wanting to be strong for your family yet feeling weak and unable to complete a simple task.  Dealing with other symptoms such as fatigue, hearing loss, migraines, memory loss, trouble concentrating, emotional trauma, poor vision, dizziness, loss of balance, back and leg pain, sleep disturbances and nausea.  Yes, life goes on but for the one who suffered a traumatic injury day to day activities can be wearisome and agonizing.

I don't know if total healing will ever come.  I don't know if my husband can ever enjoy the sound of a thunderstorm again without his heart racing out of control.  I don't know if he will get through a day without intense physical pain.  I don't know if he will be involved in an accident someday
because he is so fatigued.  I don't know if the day will come when he doesn't have to refill his prescriptions because he no longer has a need for them.  I don't know if he'll ever sleep undisturbed through the night or wake up feeling refreshed.  I don't know if he'll be able to do all the
physical work to keep up our home like he once did.  I don't know if the memory loss will increase little by little over time.  I don't know if he will be in too much pain to hold his new grandchild or if he will be able to play ball or sports with him as he grows up.  I don't know if he will ever regain his health that he had prior to September 20th, 2008. 

The only thing I am certain of is that I will honor the vow I made to him on June 2nd 1990, to love, honor and obey in "sickness" and in health.  I am proud of the man he is and for the love he has for God, family and country. He is a true warrior.  That is the man I am proud to be married to.

Submitted by Marion Esposito

1 comment:

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