How did this historic event change your life?
It was just past midnight.
Roma was driving 95 mph down the highway headed straight to the Naval Hospital. I was doing everything I could not to give birth in the front seat of her brand new Suburban.
Randy Travis was on the radio singing “Take It Easy.” Ironic, right?
Nothing was easy about this moment. My husband, an active duty Marine, was away. I went into labor early. And by the grace of God, my neighbor picked up her phone when I called to tell her that I needed help because I had a five year old who needed childcare and I needed a doctor … fast.
But when Roma took over, she took over. She was more than a neighbor there to help a friend in need. She was a fellow military spouse and knew exactly what to do in moments like these.
She held my hand in the labor and delivery room. She took my phone and called my husband to give the play-by-play. And she drove home early that morning, after an exhausting evening, to make my oldest son (and her children) a big pancake breakfast in celebration of Judge’s new brother – born in October 2010.
I spend a lot of time writing about the lessons learned being a Marine, an entrepreneur, and a working mom. I don’t dedicate enough attention towards the significant experience of being a Blue Star Family Member – a part of the “Casserole Brigade,” as we affectionately called ourselves.
When I married my first husband, the plan was for both of us to leave the Marine Corps. After 9.11, our priorities changed – service became #1. He stayed in for 13 more years, which included nearly three years away from his family. I pursued my private sector career, but I also made the commitment to be an active member of the spouse community.
This choice put me in direct contact with some of the most incredible spouses in this world. We needed each other as those 6-12 month deployments were long and lonely, and during these periods I got to witness service beyond self at the highest calling. It wasn’t just food, friendships, and fun – there was that, of course, but there were shoulders that were cried on and courage to be shared.
My 9.11 story isn’t so much of how that one single day changed my life and its trajectory. It’s more of a story of how this experience exposed me to a community of caregivers who are the backbone of our nation’s military and first responders. I don’t believe we celebrate and honor these men and women enough. At least, I know I don’t and there’s room for me to do better.
My friend, Kathy Roth Douquet, is the founder and CEO of Blue Star Families. Take time and learn more about this organization that supports military families. I regret that I could use your support in learning more about first responder organizations – could you do me a favor and send me your favorite organization/charities connected to the significance of 9.11? I commit to you that I’ll include these organizations on social media channels all week to help draw awareness to them… and hopefully with awareness comes funds.
My hope for today is that we all can spend time in reflection and mourn the lives lost on this tragic day. I believe we need to hold space, too, for the true and total sacrifices made for this amazing, and imperfect country we live in … and that we also extend our gratitude out further to include those who don’t do what they do for praise, recognition, or need for heroism. They certainly don’t do it for the money. Our military and first responder community and families do this because service is reward enough.