Thanks to the success of the Valentine Baskets we are now going to the hospital once a month and visiting with the caregivers who are caring for the in-patient wounded warriors. During the last visit, a mom who was very angry said, "Oh your hubby is an amputee? Well tell me this, how do you not smack people for staring at him." I was caught off guard. I told her that you just get used to it. I told her our 9 and 6 year old daughters have. We hardly notice people anymore. We know they are looking and even staring, but you just have to keep moving on. The past few times we've been out and about I really paid attention to what I do. That way next time I'll be ready when someone asked how I handle it.
I do warn people hanging out with us for the first time. I learned that it's best to tell them up front. All of our friends handle it differently. I always remind them that people can't help but look. When you are different in any way, you will attract attention. I tell them to remember less than 1% of America serves in the military and then the percentage of wounded is even smaller. So if you add all that in people are going to look and wonder. There's nothing wrong with it at all. It's just one of those things.
Most of the time I just put myself in a tunnel and block everyone out. We just keep right on trucking. Sometimes people stare so hard you can't help but notice. When this happens I try to lock eyes with them and smile so they'll stop. I do this more for the girls then for Chaz. Our girls are very defensive of their Daddy and sometimes they get upset. I truly don't think people are trying to be rude I just think it happens. I think they have so many thoughts and questions in their minds that they just don't know what to do or say.
We love it when people come over and thank Chaz for his service. We like showing the girls what patriotism is. I personally like them being reminded of how proud everyone is of their Daddy.
I am not perfect and I will tell you sometimes I stare back. I have had thoughts about smacking people. There was this one teenager on a group tour of DC. We crossed her path several times while touring the monuments. At one point I told Demetria that if that girl gave Chaz one more dirty look I was going over there and was going to have a talk with her and her leader. All of us noticed this girl, that has to tell you how bad it was. Her looks were evil, not curious. We all know the difference. Finally we got away from her group and it wasn't a moment too soon because she finally had gotten to Chaz.
I truly love the people who look at us and smile. I know they see what we are. We are a happy family just moving along the path to the new normal. These people see our happiness and that makes them happy. To me that's equals mission accomplished! We want others to smile and be happy for us. We're happy, very happy and we want you to be as well.
The pity stares are and will always be the worst. I feel sorry for those who feel sorry for us. You know why I feel sorry for them? They see our family as victims. They are thinking aww, that's so tragic. They're thinking aww that poor family. The truth is we are victors, not victims. Chaz survived a 40 pound IED. He could have died so many times along the way, but no he's here with us. We have been through so much, but yet here we are just moving right along. I feel sorry for those who stare because they just don't understand. I also feel sorry for them because just being around these guys is awesome. These soldiers inspire me so much. I love being a part of their lives. Those who stare with pity are really the ones who should be pitied. They are the ones missing out.
There is no way to make the stares go away. We all realize this, but there is a way to move passed it. That way simply comes with time. We've moved way beyond them. We are so incredibly blessed and everyday we are reminded of this because we have another day. I guess that peace and comfort just comes with time. Sure we'll have additional encounters with the stares, but the stares are just a part of our new normal.