Tuesday, August 14, 2012


One year ago today me, my Mom, and Charlotte stood in the rain for hours to block the Westboro Baptist Church from protesting a local soldier's funeral. 1LT Damon Leehan attended my high school, close in age, was married, and had two beautiful kids.  His life was very similar to my life.

It is scary easy to take life for granted. To just assume your life will never change. I attempt to take each  day as a gift from God but I will be the first to admit I usually fall short.  I am tied up with selfish wants, silly worries, and busy chasing our toddler around to slow down and appreciate life; my life.

A facebook post from Damon's wife hit me hard this evening. Here it is:

August 14th: This day will never be the same for me. It will always have a different meaning. My world turned upside down, my little family shattered, my heart ripped right out from my wide open chest. The memories will be burned into my mind for years to come. I will forever remember this day for as long as I am here on this earth.

It’s as if it was just yesterday… I was sitting on the couch, visiting with my family and playing with our new puppy. Mark went outside to unload a dryer from his truck. As I was starting to walk into the kitchen, he came running inside and whispered something into my sister’s ear. Katie turned to face the tv and her color turned as white as a sheet. It was as if she had seen a ghost. Mark then went running back to the front door. I said “What is it”? Katie wouldn’t say a word. Wouldn’t even look at me, just stared blankly into the tv. So, as curiosity grabbed ahold me tightly, I started to walk around so I could out the front door….

That’s when I saw them. Two officers, dressed to the nines, walking up to my front door. When they caught sight of me, they took their hats off and placed them over their hearts. While they were walking towards me, I just stood there, frozen still, and the only words I could mutter out of my mouth were NO. No, no, no, no, no, no. Repeatedly. That’s when they asked me to sit down, all while knowing that’s when they would say the words. The words that would change my life forever. “Mrs. Leehan, we have come to regretfully inform you that your husband, 1LT Damon Thomas Leehan, was conducting a mission in Laghman Province”…. and that’s when everything went blank. Until I heard them say those raw, all too real words, that sounded as if they were screaming them right into my ear. “He.has.been.killed”. A small sentence that meant so much and felt like a raw knife to hear. You see this kind of stuff in movies, not in your life. Not in MY life. But, it just happened. A big, fat dose, of crappy reality.

I wake up every single day, put a smile on my face and try to be strong, all while being broken to pieces on the inside. I do this because it’s the only choice I have. I was left here for a reason and Damon was taken for one. I may not ever know why. In all the hurt and heartache, I look back and see all of God’s blessings throughout. From August 14, 2011, to this very day. One year later. I see it in all the small things…our dog dying out of nowhere on the 10th (and bc of that, my family was at my house to see our new puppy the day I got that “knock at my door”)…the scripture verse Damon had read the day he died…the time on his watch in our deployment pics…Michael Spasic, a very close friend, being the one to receive the dignified transfer email…the list goes on and on. I’m very thankful for all of it. Knowing He’s still here is what keeps me going, even though I wish I could go to sleep and wake up on August 26th. Although every day after this day will also be tough, today is the most painful. Instead of putting on a brave face, I am going to allow myself to just.be.sad.

Sometimes a loud sigh speaks significantly louder than any words that can ever be spoken.

So tonight I will go to bed thanking God for my life and pray for Damon's beautiful family. 

1st LT Damon Leehan and family 

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