Father’s Day ~ The New Normal

Father’s Day ~ The New Normal

June 20, 2010 – Father’s Day 2010! After being up for a few minutes this morning, my mind began to run through our plans for the day. My husband is out of town on business. Things will be a bit strange, but we will just give him a call later today. I’ve finalized the plan for lunch with my dad. Our goal is to arrive just before everyone else gets to the restaurant so we won’t have to wait an hour for a table. As usual, I forgot to buy the cards so I’m picturing the sparse selection of cards left on the store shelves. You know the type that comes to mind. I’m trying to decide if I should take the time to go buy a couple of the leftover cards just because it’s the right thing to do, or if my dad will be okay with spending the afternoon with us. I already know the answer. No need to buy the cards.

I check Facebook. My “wall” is loaded with posts of Father’s Day greetings. I post one myself. I head over to Military Missions page and begin to post a message. This one takes more thought because I want to say something meaningful to those who have served our nation, those who are deployed today, and those family members that have to spend today without their daddy.

As I ponder what to post on the facebook wall,I realize that Father’s Day is just another Hallmark holiday for many of us. On one day each year, we stop what we are doing and we let our dads know we love and appreciate them. For those who have a loved one deployed, this day is long and lonely, a raw reminder that Dad is not home, and he’s standing in harm’s way. His absence consumes each member of the family in a far more powerful way on a day like today.

Suddenly, my mind rushes to my friend Katie Bagosy. Six short weeks ago, she was one day away from losing her husband to the battle of the invisible wound of war, PTSD. Today, she must endure 24 hours of “Father’s Day” with her two young children who no longer have a daddy to hug in their arms. Her husband, Sgt. Tom Bagosy, a United States Marine, took his own life on Monday, May 10, 2010, and joined the statistical numbers that will be counted and shoved under the rug.

The moment my mind rests of Katie and her two young children, I am overcome with grief. I can hardly make my mind go to the place where she must be today. Tommy’s death is still so fresh. Father’s Day will always be a painful reminder for the Bagosy family, but this year has to be the worst! I haven’t known Katie very long, but I can hear her voice and see her tears in my mind. I realize that all day long, Katie will be reminded that her kids can’t jump in their daddy’s lap. She will have to worry about the fact that there is no one home to accept the finger painting made in Sunday School this morning. She might not even bother to go to church today, and I doubt she will want to go anywhere near the local restaurants. Why immerse herself in the reminder that Tommy is gone? I can only imagine all the questions that her children are going to be asking all day long. I know her son is having an especially hard time, so a day like this must cut Katie’s heart in two.

Now my mind rushes to Bob Bagosy, Tommy’s father. I am reminded of our recent phone conversation and I ponder his pain. As his memories of past Father’s Day celebrations flood his mind, he will likely find this day to be nothing like any Father’s Day he has ever experienced. As our dads spend this day reflecting on their role as father, Bob will choke back the tears with his memories of Tommy from the very first moment his child drew breath until the last time Bob saw his son, and every milestone in between. As a parent myself, I can not even make myself go there for more than a moment. If it’s too painful for me, therefore, I already know it has to be unbearable for Bob.

As a society, we are all about numbers. The military keeps a count each month of the number of new enlistments, the number deployed, the number of wounded, the number of those killed in action, and though they would prefer not to, they even keep a count of the number of suicides. Tommy is a casualty of war, and I’m sure he has already been counted, but before the numbers are totaled, be sure to include Katie. Be sure to include Tommy’s children. Don’t forget to include his parents, Bob and Iris. Tommy had two brothers and two sisters who need to be included in that count. While you are tallying the numbers, try to get some accurate data on the number of extended family members, friends, and fellow Marines who are forever affected by Tommy’s death.

Here is the sad reality about Father’s Day 2010. This death could have been prevented.   If Sgt. Tom Bagosy had been given proper medical care, he would still be here with his family today. If Sgt Bagosy had not been stained with the stigma of PTSDhis children would be sitting in his lap right now. He wanted help. He begged for it. He did not want to take his own life, but he could not see his way through the nightmare his life had become. He fought to hold on, but in the end, he just couldn’t bear the burden of dragging his family down and in an instant, he was gone. He didn’t get the chance to rethink his decision. I am certain he would have chosen life if he had believed the health care givers at Naval Hospital Camp Lejeune would open their eyes and ears and actually help him.

Next year’s Father’s Day will likely be a bit easier for the Bagosy family, but I wonder how many more families will be enduring their “first Father’s Day” as casualties of PTSD, the invisible wound of war?

Originally published by the author on fellednot.com.

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