The New Plan

I had a plan. I have to say, this was not it.

Looking ahead to this time in my life, I thought I would be planning an Australian vacation with my husband and making college visits. I thought I would be getting ready to welcome a new family member—a daughter-in-law, maybe a grandbaby. I had dreams of Christmas celebrations with lots of presents and chocolate chip cookies and of planning our weekends around “the kids.” I was going to write a book, finally get around to cleaning out the basement, and carve out some time to learn a new language or workout routine.

I had so looked forward to this time in my life. It was going to be the reward for raising these men. We sacrificed and prayed and cried and laughed our way through parenthood. And I had a plan to celebrate that.

My plan changed on August 6, 2011. Instead of planning a vacation to Australia, I am planning a 5K run. Instead of welcoming a daughter-in-law, I am mourning that Spencer will never have a family. Instead of large Christmas gatherings, we limp through the holidays. Our basement remains untouched. The book is not taking up near enough space on my hard drive. The time to learn a language or workout routine seems to be frittered away, rocking on the porch, tears in my eyes, thinking about how much I miss that boy. And I am spending a lot of time planning ways to help our nation’s veterans in honor of my dead son. Not exactly where I wanted to be at this age, but that is exactly where I am.

Please don’t think I’m asking for pity. I’m not. I made a commitment to be as transparent as possible in this process and pull back the curtains on my grief. I think it is important to know that the cost of freedom is high and that long after everyone else forgets about our fallen heroes, the families continue to mourn.

It is impossible to put into words the depth of our sorrow or the profundity of the impact of the loss of Spencer for our family. NOTHING is the same, and nothing will ever be the same. There isn’t a day that goes by that we don’t think of him, miss him, wish we could see him. Dale said it best. “I can’t do the things I want to do: Undo this ridiculously stupid thing that happened, bring Spencer back, or trade places with him. But making it count for our vets? This I can do. This I will do.”

So, we will continue with the new plan, and we will embrace our lives they way they have been laid out for us now. We will continue to celebrate new life and new additions to the family with our “Army kids.” We will continue to laugh and cry and love our new Gold Star family (the family no one wants to be part of but that everyone needs when their heroes don’t come home). And we will continue to plan our lives around this 5K event every summer. We will continue to work to Make It Count.

~Megan Moore Duncan