When you least expect it. . .

Supporting those who fight for our Flag, Motherhood and Apple PieWhile my son was in Afghanistan, the pro US Military Twitter world, an ether community, provided a level of support that exceeded any expectation I could possibly have had, helping me get through an immensely challenging time.

One of the exceptional “tweeters” was ArmyMom101 – a woman by the name of Virginia Rice who lives in Illinois.

She is a prodigious tweeter.  Her “MilitaryMon” (military Monday) and “FF” (Follow Friday) lists of other pro-military tweeters were unsurpassed by any other Military tweeter out there.  The time she spent honoring our troops and our vets, in this 21st century virtual way,  was simply amazing. Her last tweet for the day would frequently be, “I’m leaving for work”, or “I’m going to pick up my youngest from work.”  Occasionally  she would  send me private direct messages with encouraging and uplifting words that seemed to be exactly what I needed to specifically hear that day.

A few weeks ago, after my son got home, she tweeted that she wasn’t going to be online for the next few weeks, because her deployed son was coming home.  Instead of spending time online, she was rightly going to spend this precious time with him.

And then, we saw a tweet that said her son was in a motorcycle accident, with a traumatic brain injury (TBI).

And then, he was in a medically induced coma.

And then, her son, her youngest, died.

Wendel Rice was 28.  He was not Virginia’s deployed son, he was the son that she picked up from work.  The son that was home. The one she wasn’t as worried about. The one that didn’t seem to be in harms’ way.

When we least expect it, our lives change.  Those of us over 50, think we’re aware of the fragility of life. We think we remember to treasure each moment, count our blessings, be present to each other.  But we don’t remember. We take our blessings for granted.  And we aren’t present for one another – not like we should be.

Most days, we rush through a litany of urgent to-do’s, that really aren’t all that important.We have the best of intentions, but then we have one more report that needs to be generated, one more basket of laundry that needs to be folded.

We forget to tell one another how much they mean to us.

We forget to squeeze extra hard when we hug each other good bye.

We forget to smile when our loved ones walk through the door.

My heart is heavy for the Rice family.  We are all diminished by the tragic, sudden loss of her youngest son, Wendel.

As we remember him, we vow that tomorrow, we won’t forget.


3 Responses to “When you least expect it. . .”

  1. October 31, 2009 at 12:53 pm

    Virginia had touched my heart through her tweets as well. Her steadfast effort to share her appreciation for our troops helped motivate me to continue helping as well.

    Like I’m sure you were, I was smiling from ear-to-ear when I read her last post before she was going to enjoy time with her family while her older son was home from Iraq.

    Her next post was hard to stomach. While she is welcoming her older son home from Iraq, her youngest Wendel is badly injured in an accident. Unimaginable pain for her and her family.

    The news that he passed away was devastating. I only know Virginia through Twitter and we recently exchanged emails. But, she’s like an angel doing things for others without anything expected in return. To have such a lovely person lose their son in this way is just horrible. We are crying along with her other admirers on Twitter.

    – David

  2. October 31, 2009 at 5:42 pm

    Dear Virginia~

    My heart sank when I read about your precious son’s death. I am so deeply sorry for your loss & want you to know that you have my heart, love, support & prayers. You attempted to follow me back in recent weeks, and I was uncertain about the verification process used since my account had been compromised. I ache for you and hope that we can connect when you are able.

    My 16 year old daughter passed away on July 16, 2006, so I understand your shock and overwhelming agony. When reading the words of your son’s accident and passing, I felt the piercing pain for you and your family. You are welcome to send me an email or communicate in any manner if and when you desire to. Again, I am so deeply saddened by your horrific loss and my prayers are with you at this devastating time.

    May God Bless You & Hold You,
    Danielle Helms

    @DanielleHelms on Twitter

  3. 3 Virginis's Sister & Wendel's Aunt
    October 31, 2009 at 6:25 pm

    My heart and prayers are ever with you, Ginny. I am sorry for your loss and the pain you’re feeling. I can only imagine the profound sadness in your heart right now.

    Too, I want to say thank you for writing this – for my sister and for Wendel. May it help her to know how much so many people care and support her – now and in the future.

    Bless you.

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