Linda J. Villar, 41
disclaimer: the start of this post and parts of it are 'bummers' but there is light and hope interspersed throughout. Hang in there while reading, kay?
It's been so long since I have blogged regularly or with any substance really. Those of you who have followed me for a while now know that I have these times. Usually it's because I am in the midst of a depressive episode. I 'retreat' into myself and then when it's time, when it's passed, I resurface. It's a cyclical pattern that is triggered by anything, or nothing at all. I've been 'away' again because of another 'black' period. Not so horrible this time as others, but bad enough. I've given up on trying to analyze and pinpoint what set these episodes off. It's too much work and frankly, is of no use to me. The reasons are so varied and random that I can't really use the information to prevent this so, I just do what I must to get through it and then push on.
Thankfully, I am on the upswing. I have done a lot of selfish self-preservation, thinking, and praying to get back on the upswing. I questioned why this is so hard for me and why I am the way that I am. It usually (eventually) comes back to my realization that I am the sum of all my parts and this disease is one of the parts that MUST be there for the whole to be what it is. Just like in everything else, you must take the good with the bad. There are no free rides in life are there?
So, what is the name above you might ask? Well, it's my part in contributing to the Mother's Day Project. Have you heard of it yet? You might have so I won't go into too many details. If you haven't, it's all described here.
I read about the project, contacted Anne and was put on the list of contributors. Last week I got my name.
That is my casualty for the project. I started reading through blogs of others that have joined this project. Someone brought up a good point. Why do we use the word "casualty" when describing the death of someone in a war? What's so "casual" about war or death at all for that matter? There are many words in the English language that enrage me for their callousness in how they are used. Example: I am a nurse. I HATE when people at work speak of a patient having 'expired' - Milk expires, library book loans expire, magazine subscriptions expire. . . . people DIE. We aren't something that gets 'used up' or goes 'bad'. Someones passing is not a passive act - it's an action. A verb. They die. A death actively affects others - their parents, spouses, children, friends. . . . they all feel the loss ACTIVELY. For me, using such a passive term (expires) somehow lessens the significance of the loss, of their LIFE. It is one of the banes of my nursing existence and enrages me each time I hear it used.
"Casualty of War" - that's another one of those terms. I am sure that Linda's husband & family did not find anything casual in their loss in early June of 2005 especially when I am sure they were planning her homecoming party - she was due to come home July 13th.
I do not find anything 'casual' in the intertwining of Linda and myself. There are so many commonalities between us that can NOT be the cause of just 'casual' circumstances. She was 41 at the time of her death - my age now. We both have husbands and children. Her daughter was 11 at the time - my DS will be 11 this year. She adopted New Orleans as her home after moving there during high school - DH and I lived there for 3 years and still feel it is a part of who we are. She was a CIVILIAN at the time of her death serving as support staff to the US Army troops there - my cousin Ana is a civilian in the US Air Force and her job very closely follows along the lines of what Linda did (Ana is also a USAF reservist (Sergeant no less) after having served full time in the USAF right out of high school - she's my hero even if she is 4 years younger than me!). So, as you can see, Linda and I have quite a bit in common and I truly feel that it is not coincidental that I got her name. This is what the Iraq Coalition Casualty Count page notes about Linda:
U.S. Dept. of the Army Civilian Linda J. Villar
From: Franklinton, Louisiana
Assigned To: Field Support Command
Based In: Fort Stewart, GA
Fatality Date: Friday, June 03, 2005
Fatality Cause: Hostile - hostile fire - mortar attack
Fatality Location: Baghdad, Iraq
Here is what the US Army Materiel Command said about Linda in the commentary about the Villar Memorial Room:
Linda was a Master's educated woman who chose to put herself in harm's way in order to serve and support the men and woman who serve and support our country and our freedom. By all accounts that I have read she was a remarkably kind, compassionate and giving human being. So much so that Fort Stewart dedicated a room in her honor in December of 2005. That was the month I turned 40 years old. I was surrounded by family and friends honoring my life in a happy, joyful manner while Linda's family and friends honored her life in a deeper and sorrowful way. Two families honoring woman at virtually the same time in such meaningful yet contrasting ways. How often does that happen? How much of our joy and elation is 'countered' in this universe by someone else's sorrow and pain?
[Villar, acting chief, 3rd Infantry Division logistics support element, Baghdad, Iraq, was killed when an insurgentmortar round struck Camp Liberty, June 3, 2005. She was the first AMC civilian killed while serving in Iraq. “Linda leaves behind a reputation of excellence; she leaves behind a reputation that serves for all of us that wear this uniform, whether you’re a civilian or military. Linda Villar is a tremendous example for all of us to look up to and remember,” said Gen. Benjamin S. Griffin, AMC commanding general and host of the ceremony. Villar, 41, spent most of her 24 years of civilian service with AMC, including the U.S. Army Soldier Systems Center, the U.S. Army Soldier and Biological Chemical Command, and the U.S. Army Field Support Command. Her awards include the Defense of Freedom Medal, the Meritorious Civilian Service Award and the Army Achievement Award. “Anyone that didn’t meet her really missed a great opportunity. She really touched everybody, and anyone that crossed paths with her knows what I mean,” said Villar’s husband David, a logistics assistance representative, Fort Stewart, Ga.]
So, I spent quite a bit of time thinking about Linda and her family this past weekend. I took the opportunity to thank God that I am so fortunate for all that I have and to feel blessed that I am here to see my son grow up and to grow old with my husband. I prayed for my family, my friends and for all those who serve and died serving this country. I thought about how I would pay tribute to Linda with the project and I decided to stitch her name in RED for the project. Red to symbolize my anger and rage. Red to symbolize the heart of this woman that gave her life so selflessly. Red to symbolize the LOVE this woman had for life and her family. Red to symbolize the blood that she shed for this cause.
I will stitch and I will pray and I will cry and I will be thankful for my life and all my blessings.
Thank you Linda and may you continue to rest in peace.