Today, Derek, Krystina and I were discussing Derek's attitude. He told us, "Tears don't grow legs." He is such an inspiration to me, and for those who walked away from him and hurt him, all I can say is it is your loss.
Yes, people are so cruel in this life as to walk away when someone they claim to love really needs them. Wives and parents have walked out on wounded warriors, leaving them alone in the hospital. Unfortunately, Derek is no stranger to abandonment. I have not really addressed this before, but given recent events, I feel the need to state my peace.
Twelve years ago, when my children were 2, 5, 5, 9 and 10, their father walked out. I begged him to stay in their lives, but he told me, "It's not a good time for me." A couple of times after he legally and voluntarily (against my objections) terminated his right to visit with them, he did try to come back, but he never did what the court order told him he had to do, so the court denied his requests. Once again, it was his way and not the right way, the way that would have been best for the children.
Over the last 12 years, child support was his way, not the way the court ordered. I had to chase him many times, and eventually he took off to another state and refused to tell me or the court where he was. He owes me about $175,000.
There was no contact between the children and their father for years. In addition, although I tried to keep his parents in the children's lives, they, too, walked away. They all blame me for the lack of a relationship, but a court would have enforced the relationship. However, that would not have been necessary for his parents. They had my phone number and address and they could have contacted them at any time. I did send back one birthday card that was received from his parents, because Derek was about 12 or 13 at the time, looked at the return address, and handed it back to me. He told me to send it back and tell them he wanted grandparents, not a birthday card. I did as Derek requested. They never tried again. They did not call. They did not write. In addition, a couple of years ago, his mother added my children on facebook, with my consent. She could have contacted them without any interference from me. She did in the very beginning, and then went back to ignoring them.
My children did not grow up in a household with me vilifying their father or his parents. I did not talk about him. They never heard the story about what happened between us, even to this day. They did not hear me speak ill of him.
When Derek was 18, his father reached out for him, in violation of the court order. The court order stated that when the children were emancipated, they could contact him. Derek was not emancipated, and his father contacted him, not the other way. But I did not object and let it be Derek's choice. When Derek told me he was going to live with his father for six months to a year, so he could work with him and get to know him, I told him the door was always open. After two months, he ran back home because he could not stand living with him another minute. He also could not stand to hear his father rip me apart.
Before Derek deployed, he told Krystina that if anything ever happened to him, she was to simply advise his father. He did not list his father as a point of contact for the Army to contact directly. That speaks volumes.
After the injury, his father showed up at the hospital. I could have used the court order to limit his contact. I didn't. I could have used the court order to keep my other children away from him. I didn't. The children are now 17, 17 and 14. I gave them the option. We all went out to dinner.
I kept it civil.
His father did not.
There were numerous issues with the doctors and his father trying to assert influence over the medical care. I'm sorry. I am POA. I raised this brave soldier. Where were you? Right, living your own life.
A minor issue, but one that shows his character is that he promised me he would get a debit card for his daily allowance and give it to me to help support the kids, especially after we went to dinner and he saw how much they eat. When finance came in with the paperwork, instead of a debit card, he applied for direct deposit. He did give me a few dollars to help with the kids one time when he was here, but he refused to give me a pay stub so that we could calculate the right amount of child support and he refused to sign a Consent Order to rectify the child support account. Once again, it was going to be his way, what he felt like paying, not what the kids needed. I offered to give him credit towards the arrears for any payment he could prove to me that he made, but miraculously, the proof was lost.
The first few days that they were here, when Derek was still on precedex and not fully conscious, Derek's father, his parents and his brother started a campaign to convince Krystina to leave. His brother told Krystina Derek would never walk again and would be forever confined to a wheelchair. I cannot wait to post pictures of Derek walking.
They told Krystina that she was too young to deal with all of this. Remember, this was the first they had met her. They did not know her at all. They told her that no one would think less of her if she left. Derek would. Derek would have been heartbroken. They didn't care. Derek was still in a semi-conscious state, and they were trying to convince the woman that he loved, the one person who will be his biggest inspiration to get better, to walk away.
The nurses in both the ICU and on the floor have told me that Krystina shows more maturity and steadfastness than some of the older wives who they have seen. They think Derek is one of the luckiest wounded warriors because he has a woman who is supporting him 100%. I wish Derek's father, uncle and grandparents had thought the same and not hurt her so much.
Krystina kept quiet for three days about the pressure. She finally asked me to get him to back off. I did. I exploded in front of Building 10. He tried to convince Krystina that I wanted her to leave too, and that I had said so. Not only is this not true, but even if I had, I've known her four and a half years. I think I have a different standing than people who met her the first time and had not even been involved in Derek's life.
During the fight, I pulled no punches. I was tired of hearing him say that Derek was just like him, and he would have been a hero just like Derek. I told him if Derek was like him, he would not be lying in that bed, because he would have run away like a coward, just like his father did. I do not care if it was a low blow. DO NOT hurt one of my kids. Krystina is my daughter-by-choice.
After the the fight, they all left. He said he was coming back two weeks later. When I mentioned this to Derek, in front of a respiratory therapist and one of the ICU nurses, he shook his head no. He could not speak at the time, because he was ventilated, but he got the message across that he did not want his father here. I told him not to make any rash decisions, and to really think about that. I told him we would talk about it in a couple of days.
I didn't talk to him about it, because I didn't want anyone in the hospital to think that I influenced him. I do not care what the out-laws think. They blame me for everything anyway. Why would they ever take responsibility for their own bad decisions?
I sent Dr. West in to speak with him, and the result was a multidisciplinary meeting on the floor to set limits for the visit in accordance with Derek's wishes. I told the doctors and the ICU team that I didn't care what happened, and that I only wanted what was best for Derek. This is charted.
His visit was limited, and he took a nice Army paid vacation in DC. He did not stay the times that he was permitted to stay. He limited himself even more. He did the same thing two weeks after that. I told him he could come to the hospital up until 9 p.m., because that was when Derek went to sleep. He arrived at his hotel at 7 p.m., and did not bother to come.
He told me the first week of Derek's injury that thousands of dollars were raised for Derek by his place of employment. I gave him the name and address of the fund that had been established for Derek and asked him to forward them there. He asked me if I would mind if his parents had their travel expenses paid from the fund, and I said absolutely not. I told him to send me the bills and I would reimburse them.
When I followed up on whether the funds were forwarded, he told me they set up their own account. No. Not a good idea. Why should Derek have to access more than one account? I asked him who had access to the funds, and why he wouldn't simply forward Derek's money to him. He changed his story and said family and friends had donated money for his and his parents travel expenses.
If that was the case, he did not need to be on orders. Derek had already told me he wanted to cancel his orders and put Krystina on orders. I tried to talk to him about it to avoid Derek having to do it, but he refused. Derek cancelled his orders, and he did not visit again. He told me that he would be back when Derek could speak for himself. Derek WAS speaking for himself when he said he wanted limited time. Also, after his orders were cancelled, he asked me if he could see Derek, and I told him what Derek had said about one day. Derek had been very sick that week and was moving from ICU to the ward, and he didn't want to be bombarded. Derek didn't even want Krystina and I in the room the entire time. He was just too sick. I explained this to him, and said he could come. How is this my fault?
He did not contact Derek via facebook. He did not send him a birthday card. He did not try to call him. For over two months, Derek did not hear from this "man." Finally, this past weekend, after two months of no contact, he reached out to Derek with all sorts of excuses and blaming me. He wanted to come for HIS birthday, even though he ignored Derek's birthday. Derek told him not to come. Why would Derek let this man back into his life after abandoning him numerous times? After hurting his fiancee? After all that has happened?
I told him back in August, that if he is serious and if he really changed, he needed to prove it.
Actions speak louder than words.
He needed to start paying child support and start meeting his responsibilities. He promised he would. He gave me money one time. He has not sent anything else, but he showed up here with what looked like a brand new iPad and was promising to but Derek all sorts of expensive gifts. The one-upmanship was sickening. Derek also told us he has a lot of creature comforts and man toys. That's wonderful for him, but his children grew up in a single parent, single income household with very few vacations, Pay Less shoes and K mart clothing because that was what their mother could afford without child support. If not for my mother, we would have been on the street, eating at soup kitchens. I am not exaggerating. I simply did not earn enough to support five children on my own and their father was the classic dead beat dad. It has been almost two years since he has paid child support, except for the one payment mentioned above, and before that, he paid $200 to $300 per month, not the court ordered $600 per week.
I have not gotten into the history in this blog, because this is really about Derek's journey, but now it seems prudent to set forth certain things, especially since it is interfering with Derek's journey. I've received emails and been attacked in my guestbook by people who have only listened to his lies, his sob story. I took the high road and did not respond, but when I saw how upset Derek was today after more of his lies and excuses, I felt the need to address it. Hopefully, he will read this and stop hurting Derek who has already been through so much. This is not about him, but he is too selfish to realize that, so maybe by putting this in writing, he will realize it.
Derek said, "Tears don't grow legs." Tears also do not mend burned bridges. Tears and excuses do not make up for years of abandonment. No more excuses. Either man up and accept that you have ruined this relationship beyond repair or live in resentment and blame me. I really do not care as long as he stops hurting my son.
I was not the perfect wife. I made mistakes. I have not been the perfect mother. But unlike their father, I have been there. I have accepted responsibility for my own shortcomings. I do not blame him for my choices and my mistakes.
I did not keep him away. He voluntarily terminated his visits with his children, and the court set up a series of steps for him to come back. He never did it. I did not say he could not come to Bethesda. Derek set limitations on his visits, and Derek cancelled his orders. He reacted like a spoiled child and refused to come back, once again blaming me. I'm sorry, but some things cannot be repaired.
Derek needed the love and support of his entire family, but one half walked out once again. There is no repairing that. Derek saw them walk away. Derek heard from Krystina how much they attacked her. He has not heard my story, and I will not get into all of that because the past is the past and "tears do not grow legs." Whining about what happened and placing blame does not fix things.
The out-laws were given an opportunity to be there for Derek during this recovery, and they elected to run away.... again. They elected to blame me.... again. I didn't know I was that powerful. I didn't know I could control a military hospital....an entire facility. I did not know that I controlled facebook and the phone lines. Wow, I must be a really powerful bitch.