Sunday, August 26, 2012

August 26th 2011 One Long Year

One year ago today, I received that phone call no mother ever wants to receive.  "Your son has been critically wounded in Afghanistan while on foot patrol resulting in...." You hear what they are saying but it is so hard to believe. The information of that day trickled in over the next 5 days.

Trying to comprehend what is being explained to you, preparing to pack to fly across the country for an undetermined amount of time, taking care of household items that need to be looked after, seeing that the dogs are going to be taken care of, getting time off from your jobs, relying on that phone to ring with any updates because it is not like you can drive to the hospital to be with your loved one. Such an emotional  whirlwind. Then there is flying all the way from LAX to Washington DC,  arriving tired and drained, picked up and driven to the hotel you will be living in for the next few months, check in and then be driven the hospital to finally see your son.

Seeing Justin for the first time, his beautiful face is the first thing I remember. Not a scratch on his face or arms. He cannot talk as he is on a ventilator so he is sedated and will remain that way for the next 19 days. During that time, every Monday, Wednesday, Friday was scheduled surgery for wash outs. This routine continues for months. Justin remains in ICU for months as well.

Time goes by and Justin gets strong enough to get off the vent and I think that is where we started the Blog. This feels like a good place to start to end the Blog. Once we get back home and share the final news that we are home I will post our final blog. The blog has given us a way to communicate with all of our family and friends and we thank you all for taking such an interest in reading it. We have tried to keep it light and up beat for the most part. When you experience a life changing event such as this, writing about it seems to help let everyone know what is going on, but most important helps with our emotional balance getting it out onto paper. This has been part of our healing and I tell everyone who is going through an emotionally tough time, to journal. Trust me it is healing.

Anyway, today is a day of celebration! Justin, Happy Alive Day!  You are (as you say,) invincible! So go out and live your life and enjoy each and every day. Thank you God for giving Justin back to us, we know you have plans for him and us. We will be ready. Thank you all again for all the love and support and prayers you have given to this family as well as all our wounded warriors. Please continue to pray for our military who are defending the very freedom you enjoy. God Bless you all! Happy August 26th


  1. Thanks for the nice & informative write up ! I will keep this in mind!
    Home report Scotland 

  2. Maureen - I'm looking forward to seeing you again. You've been missed. And every kid should have a mom like you.

    The big thing I want to tell Justin is that slogan, "Once a Marine ..." is no bs. When he's in his 70s and visits a Marine base, he's one of them. They take that very seriously. It's cool.

  3. Justin- I remember the day I first heard of your injuries from Matt and how I hurt for you and all of the Marines in your unit incl. my Matt. This first tour of Matt's in Afghanistan was not supposed to result in anyone in his battery getting injured...because that is how I had prayed. And I remember asking Mike's mom to please let your mom know my husband and I were praying for you and her. And in a year's time, what a remarkable recovery you have made! Your perseverence is an example of determination and inner strength some of us older folks need more of! I know that you will be moving forward with your life and will return to CA. But in honor of you and the other Wounded Warriors of Echo Battery, John and I and our Sunday School Class have begun to support the Wounded Warrior Project on a monthly basis. We don't want to forget what being free has cost some. God bless you Justin and your wonderful family. Laurie Ritchie

  4. Dear Laurie, Sorry for the delay and thank you so much for love and support you have given to all of us Echo moms and Marines through this entire year. We have all prayed for a safe deployment and please believe me when I say that God was with these boys every step of the way and blessed us each with bringing them back to us minus Ibarra whom I Know he must have really needed for a special assignment. Your Matt did a fine job and I thank him for being so supportive to me during a very difficult time. I pray for him as he continues his career in the Marine Corps and pray he continues with the Corps values. Please continue to keep in touch, I appreciate everything you have done for us. God bless you all! The Crabbe Family..