Blackhawk Helicopter Crash in Florida: We Wait

Good Morning Everyone,

I woke up today, like any other day, and checked my phone before reaching for my water bottle. It was every military wife’s worst nightmare. There was a CNN Update and it read ’11 Missing after Blackhawk Helicopter Crashes in Florida’. I couldn’t even breathe for a minute. My throat felt tight and I felt the tears welling up inside of me. Anyone who reads that kind of a thing will feel deeply saddened, but for military members and their families around the world this kind of news is devastating.

I want to remain hopeful, as the news is only reporting that they have found debris. They say that the 11 are presumed dead, but nothing is confirmed. My thoughts switch immediately to the families of these service members. What are they going through right now? They sit, and they wait, because that’s all that they can do. They are powerless and broken at the same time. The thoughts that race through your mind are is it my Marine?, is it my Soldier?, if it’s not, do I know their wife, their children?

They wait for a knock on the door that they know will likely come. They know what they will see and it will be like some terrible nightmare, but it will happen in their homes. Those uniformed men and women will come. These brave people have to deliver that kind of news with honor and dignity, and they have to be very strong while they are delivering the worst news imaginable.

They will say those words that no one wants to hear. They will tell you that today your life is changed forever. They will be the people whose words confirm your deepest fears. They will be the fingers that walk up and put their thumb and index finger over the flame of hope that still burned inside of you when you heard about this crash. They will put out your hope. They will confirm that your loved one was among the missing, and is now confirmed dead. They will confirm your terrible thought, you are now a widow.

You will have to deliver this news to your children, and you will have to be strong until family arrives to help you because you likely do not live near your family. You live at your spouse’s duty station, and that is almost always no where near home. The families of these service members will receive this news. The moms and dads, sisters and brothers, and friends will all hear this devastating news today. That brave service member who everyone assumed was safe, because they were in the states, is gone. No one is prepared and so it hits you on an entirely different level.

The words will come, then the tears, denial, grief, the funeral, and then life will just go on for everyone else. Your story will not be in the headlines anymore, but your life will still go on. Your broken, gaping hole in your life will just have to keep moving forward. You will have to be a single parent, a widow, and people will talk about your ‘deceased spouse’ whenever you leave the room. That is your new life.

You may be wondering why I am writing such a post. The answer is simple. I am a military wife, and today all military wives are heartbroken. We wait together. In these moments, we make no distinction between branches of service. We all feel the same thing today, sadness. We are reminded today that we have to stand together, or we will fall apart. We are all asking ourselves what we can do to help, because those ‘sisters’ of ours are going through the worst day of their lives. We are reminded that tomorrow that knock could be on our front doors.

I have sent my husband on many deployments; Iraq and Afghanistan repeatedly. He flies Cobra Helicopters for the Marine Corps, so this crash hits me on a very personal level. We all feel this false sense of security when they are stateside that they are safe, and today is a reminder that this is a lie that we tell ourselves so that we can sleep at night. What else do you do? How else could you kiss your service member goodbye in the morning to go to work and know that you may not see them again? Service members, police officers, firefighters and probably others that I am overlooking right now, we all share that common thread.

Let us stand together today as military wives, husbands, family members, and patriots and support these families. No amount of money can ever put their dad in their living rooms on Christmas ever again. No amount of money can walk their daughter down the isle on her wedding day, or teach a son to grow up to become a good man like his daddy was. Lastly, no amount of money can hold those wives tonight as they realize that their spouse will never lie next to them again, never. They are gone.

I asked myself what I would want if it were my door that was getting knocked on today, and I would want a memory. It wouldn’t be about money, or help, because those things will come as a natural progression of this event. I would want a memory. I would want something that I could watch with my children, play at holidays, and share with my grandchildren about the man that was lost, the person we buried, my husband. That is what I would want.

The reason this occurred to me was as a result of the recent movie ‘American Sniper’, which is of course a heartbreaking account of one family’s loss. The reason this movie was so moving to me was not just how it documented the life of Chris Kyle, but how it offered his children a look at their father. They will have something to show who he was, how he was loved, and how he was mourned.

The next time you see a service member, be sure that you are mindful that they, and their families make sacrifices every day to prepare to defend the freedom that you enjoy. Our families are prepared, though perhaps not ready, to pay the ultimate price as patriots and supporters of this wonderful country that we live in.

With a very heavy heart and the utmost respect,

Raphaela Laurean

What’s Going On For The Next 2 Months? Moving To….

Ok, so I have been MIA for quite some time, and yes there is a good reason. I will have to blog about that after we get settled. If you want to know what I am up to for the next two months, check out my latest YouTube video. It’s just a short two minute clip.

I hope everyone has a beautiful weekend.





It Was My Foot on the Gas Pedal.

Raphaela's Speeding Ticket
         Time To Slow Down a Little

Ok, so, to be fair, it was my foot on the gas pedal, but that doesn’t make paying this speeding ticket any easier. On Monday, Martin Luther King Jr. day, I was headed back from a 2 day trip to Pensacola with my babies. I left work early on Friday, grabbed my babies from daycare, and then drove 6 straight hours to arrive at Pensacola so that we could spend the holiday with my husband.

My husband had been down at NAS Pensacola taking a course for his ‘Marine Aviator Career’, translation, I get to watch the kids alone for an entire month…Yeah Marine Corps! I have been through so many deployments for 7 months at a time, and training for weeks on end during this marriage, that I am surprised that it even phases me anymore. That said, it does.

Most, and of course, I am throwing out a blanket statement, Marine wives (especially Marine Officer’s Wives) are stay at home moms. This is something that I think is amazing, but it is just not my life. It is a really wonderful arrangement, because whenever the Marines are on leave, or have a holiday, the whole family can pack up and have a nice holiday together. Military households function best when there is at least one constant in the home, and usually it’s the wife. She can keep everything going no matter how many times her husband has to fly at night, leave for a week, or deploy for months on end. That is not my reality, at all.

My husband and I both work outside of the home, and trust me when I tell you that it has caused us a lot of grief, and certainly put some wrinkles on my face. When he leaves, it means that our already insanely stressful life not becomes my sole responsibility. I have to manage our home, raise our children, run my business, etc. and keep all of those plates spinning all by myself. Thank God I have super powers…..Not! 🙂

I am not belly aching about being a military wife, just dealing it straight, like it is. There is a lot of romanticism about what it is like to marry a pilot/officer in the military, and I am just giving you a sneak peek at the other side of that script. It’s not so Officer and a Gentlemen…It’s more Top Gun, as in, they are Top Dog, and you just learn to deal with it. Your whole life revolves around the Corps, or whatever branch of service your loved one is in. This can be a really great thing for some. I have found this very challenging.

When my husband and I met, I already owned my business, had my own set of friends and a life that I loved. Then we met, married, had children, and I have had to bend to the Corps every command. For example, when we had my daughter, my husband was deployed just 6 weeks after her birth. He came home when she was almost 8 months old. There I was in California, with no family, a new baby, and trying to keep my business going. When he came home, the Corps moved us (and by extension I had to move my business) all the way to Georgia. This was a challenging chapter in my life to say the least. We bought a home, built a new warehouse, decorated both, moved across the country, and just for fun, I decided that this would be a good time to have our second child. Yes, that was sarcasm, but we got pregnant as soon as he came home, so that is just how it worked out.

So back to the ticket. I was racing home so that I could unpack, do laundry, get everybody bathed, and all of the bags repacked before the next day. There was a lovely Officer (it’s raining sarcasm in here) who decided t0 write me a speeding ticket. To be fair, I was speeding, not a lot, but he was sitting right at the point where the speed limit goes from 65 to 55, and that little gem wrote me a very expensive ticket. I was, to say the least, not a happy girl.

Once he walked away and I started driving again, I completely lost it and started balling. For a minute, I honestly couldn’t decide what I was mad about. Then it hit me. I was upset with myself for allowing my life to become so jam packed with things, that I was always trying to cram 48 hours worth of stuff into 24 hours. The truth is that I already had enough on my plate with my husband being gone, and I should have just politely declined his offer to come to Pensacola for the weekend.

In trying to please everyone, I failed myself. I have a right to relax, rest, and be renewed. I have a right to protect myself from becoming completely run down. However, somehow, I had lost sight of that. I had become so wrapped up in trying to be the ‘good Marine wife’ that I lost sight of the very little bit of my own life that I have control over outside of his career.

I know that some people will read this and think that I am being harsh. What I am being is honest. The military is built on the backs of wives (and some husbands whose wives are service members), and to make matters more complicated, the wives are very rarely ever celebrated for all of the hard work that they are doing behind the scenes. When we go somewhere, and anyone finds out what it is that my husband does for a living, they always thank him for his service. It makes me cringe, because the kids and I are the ones who make HUGE sacrifices for his service, and it is like we are invisible. It’s very disheartening, so please thank the wives and children next time you feel compelled to say ‘thank you’ to a service member. They are the ones keeping the home fires burning! Enough on that…sorry….unexpected rant just occured  😉

Anywho, my whole point is that though I was seriously unhappy about the ticket, it really helped me to set myself straight. It was a reality check that I really needed, and if you ever want to get my attention, *UCK with my money, and you will have it. Having to pay that money was upsetting, but I was going to fast. Not just on 96 East, but in life. I needed and need to slow down, be more careful, protect myself, my time, my energy, and my life from so much chaotic momentum.

If you come from a family that has two working parents (outside of the home), and one of you is always deferring to the other one’s career, then you will completely understand what I am talking about. Here is a little piece of advice-Slow Down, Take Care of You! The Red Cross has a great saying, “If you can’t take care of you, then you are no good to anyone else.”

Remember that it is ok for you to put yourself as a priority from time to time. You don’t always have to be everything to everybody. It’s your life too. Don’t lose sight of that. Stay happy and healthy, and everyone in your family, including your service member will thrive.