Some of you may remember the blog post I wrote last month about Sgt. Ian McConnell, a friend of mine that I met last year in Marjah, Afghanistan.
McConnell killed himself on July 4 with a self-inflicted gunshot wound, shocking friends and family alike. His family decided to go public with his story through this blog in hope that it might help someone else.
Through this ordeal, I’ve had the luck to get to know Ian’s sister, Meg. Last night, she shared that she has been writing about her brother’s death on her blog, On the Homefront.
A recent excerpt about returning to her hometown with her brother’s body:
Even now, I cannot believe all these events actually occurred to me. Even now, I cannot believe Ian is gone. Even now, I feel as if I am recalling some other person’s story. Even now, it hurts me to tears to remember.
We had to have been quite a sight as we walked to the front of the plane. My dad, a warm bear, silent and strong in his pilot’s uniform; Gus, a solid rock with well-earned pride in his dress blues; then there was me – a small child, meek and defeated, desperately clutching at the dog tags around my neck; all walking with sorrow-weighed shoulders. The passengers applauded as we reached the front of the plane – a thank you for the sacrifice we had made, but did they know the conditions of my brother’s death? Would they still applaud if they knew?
I went down the steps and ran into the arms of my mother, holding her as she cried. I was awed by her strength as she quickly composed herself then took my hand and walked with me back towards the plane. Hand in hand we stood on one side of the ramp leading up to the baggage holding area, while my dad, Gus, and a few other men stood on the other side.
Considering the strength Meg and her family showed in sharing their story last month, the least I could do was share this now.
Ian would be happy to see it.
Saying I’m sorry is so insignificant when it comes to these matters. But I want you to know I am sorry that your sweet brother felt that death was the only answer for him. Suicide is a very selfish act and the only thing they think of is getting rid of what ever is hurting them. It leaves a trail of heartbreak and unanswered questions. I hope you some day will find a stillness in your heart and a quiet in your soul.
Jean WM USMC
“Even now” Meg is actually “forever”. Your pain will not cease but it will become more manageable. I am a former Marine and I lost my Marine son in combat in Iraq nearly 6 years ago. Not an hour has gone by, nor probably will it ever, that I don’t think of him. Hang in there.
@Jean. Sorry, suicide may seem to the uninitiated as “selfish”. Its not. Its a combat mortal wound received off the battlefield.
@Gold Star Father – Thank you. Everyone keeps telling me about how it’s a ‘new norm’ that I have to learn to live with. My problem is, I want my old norm back :-
@Jean – Thing with a lot of military suicides is they are actually trapped in a nightmare and don’t know what they are doing at the time of death.
For everyone: Keep checking back on my blog – the funeral post is coming up and that one will be the absolute most difficult to write.
Meg, God bless you darling. Don’t you worry about those people and what they would think. You’re brother was a hero and a warrior. He was also a casualty. I am so sorry for your loss.
Meg…thank you for sharing your story. I pray that the love and care shown by your friends and family will strengthen you daily. We give thanks for your brother’s service to our country.
Meg, your words will help more people than you will ever know. I am sorry for your loss and your brother, you and your family are in my prayers. Semper Fi, the Marine Corps family will be there for you always.