Three Years Ago Today

Tuesday 03 April 2007 — Three years ago today I was a “normal” American mother with four children, a marriage of almost 27 years and a boring 8 to 5 job. On April 3, 2004 I went to a nearby mall and bought a new outfit for work and two CDs: Evanescence and White Stripes. I was dreadfully worried about Casey, but I didn’t know that my world was about to be turned upside down.

Three years ago today, my oldest son was deployed to a war zone in a conflict that never should have happened, and because of the illegal invasion and immoral occupation, he was soon to be killed. My oldest daughter, Carly, was excited about transferring to university soon; my second son, Andy, was doing well as a surveyor’s apprentice; and my youngest daughter, Janey, was on spring break in her senior year of high school.

Three years ago today, if I thought about my marriage at all, being so distracted by my worry for Casey, I would have imagined Pat and I growing old(er) together with a passel of grandchildren we could spoil surrounding us. I always dreamed of two daughters-in-law and two sons-in-law to increase our happy family. Unfortunately, our marriage was a victim of King George’s war of terror. I never understood why marriages break up after the death of a child, until I experienced it. After surviving so many other stressors, Casey’s death was the proverbial straw that broke our marriage’s back.

Three years ago today, the light green spring suit that I bought for work became the suit I wore on the sunny-surreal day that we buried Casey. The men looked so handsome in their new dark suits and the girls also looked beautiful in their new outfits, which part of the “death benefit” purchased. Casey looked so peaceful in his dress greens; lying in his coffin like he was asleep. He was asleep – asleep forever at the age of 24 before he could marry that daughter-in-law for us or have those grandchildren. Asleep forever before he could finish college and become an elementary school teacher. Asleep forever before he could become a permanent deacon in the Catholic Church. Unnaturally asleep forever before three of his grandparents and his mother and father.

Three years ago today, I disagreed with the occupation of Iraq and with King George, but I never raised my voice, wrote a letter or marched in protest. I didn’t believe that my voice could have one slight bit of effect on the discourse in this country. After all, King George had called millions of people around the world who marched in protest of the impending invasion a focus group. What would he call one more voice? A flea? I bought into the propaganda that one person can’t make a difference, and spent my entire adult life protecting my own family and circling the wagons around my own children and our comfort. Three years ago today, I didn’t know that my tunnel vision was going to cost Casey his life and my family our comfort and would end up tearing us apart.

Three years ago today, I didn’t know that the term “broken heart” wasn’t figurative, but literal. I didn’t know that the pain of child-birth was a cakewalk compared to the pain of child-death. I didn’t know that a person could scream so long and so loud without having a heart attack or stroke. I didn’t know that a person could even survive such psychic shock. I didn’t know that a person could actually become a stronger person after such a debilitating pain; a pain that just becomes a constant, dull, agonizing ache.

Three years ago today, Casey was alive and didn’t know that it was his last day on this earth. Casey and seven of his buddies, including Mike Mitchell, whose family has become intertwined with ours in grief and resolve to end this devastating war, were unaware that Bloody King George had numbered their days and their numbers were soon to be up.

To me, three years ago today is a lifetime away, but yet seems so close. To me, the world was a vastly different place three years ago today. Today is another beautiful Northern California day. Sun shining, birds singing, neighbors living their lives not even aware that the paradigm shifted for the Sheehans on April 04, 2004. But today, the air is less sweet, and even though the birds still sing as though Casey were alive, their songs don’t sound the same to me.

How many families in Iraq and America will be affected by George’s war of terror today or tomorrow? How many are in a state of shock, disbelief and pain today because of yesterday? How long are we the people going to allow Congress and King George off the hook for this unremitting and unrelenting pain and destruction?

Today, tomorrow, yesterday, and forever, I will miss and mourn Casey.

My son, my friend, and my hero.


Cindy Sheehan is the mother of Spc. Casey Sheehan, who was killed in Bush’s war of terror on 04/04/04. She is the co-founder and president of Gold Star Families for Peace and The Camp Casey Peace Institute.


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