12.27.2009

If you don't have anything nice to say, then.....

I will count the days until you take my hand and lead me to our home on high
I love you baby - Merry Christmas

It has been a rough month. Today, Dec 27th, marks 9 months since Frankie was killed. We were engaged on Christmas night surrounded by my family in 2005. It was such a beautiful night that, thankfully, I have on video. I had no idea Frankie was going to ask me . We never even looked at rings together. He went and picked out the diamonds himself and had them set. It is perfect. Our engagement night was so perfect. He sang to me when we were alone, a beautiful song that I hold dear to my heart. I miss him so intensely - and I am so frustrated that every time I try to talk about him, people skirt around it - or change the subject or try to comfort me by telling me I will find someone else ------ that just plainly makes me angry. It stings every time - the same painful sting. Frankie is my husband - and always will be. So, if you want to comfort me, and those words come to mind ---please....don't say anything at all.
So, just a few pointers for those dealing with this widow:

I am not single!
I won’t meet someone else!
I will not get over losing my soul mate – ever!
Frankie will not send me someone else!
I am his one and only.
I am his girl.
He is the only person I have ever told I loved – I waited to find him.
We know we are God-given.
It is OK if you don’t understand a love like ours.
Just watch – 10 years down the road – you will all keep saying the same things.
20 years down the road – you will think I made a mistake – and that I chose this path…it is anything but a choice.
30 years down the road – I will be 60 -and you will say - it is too late for her now.
40 years down the road –You will say – It’s too bad she never remarried – she must be lonely.
50 years down the road I will be 80 – you will say – she lived a good life - I bet she looks forward to being back with her love now that she is older.
I hope I do not have to wait that long to see my love – But I will wait and I will love him more and more everyday until I do – Until we are reunited.
We are Mr. and Mrs. Francis L. Toner IV – and will be forever ---whether you like it or not.

But long or short though life may be
'Tis nothing to eternity
We part below to meet on high
Where blissful ages never die" — Emily Brontë

"Love is perhaps the only glimpse we are permitted of eternity."Helen Hayes

12.15.2009

Life is Good


So, I just finished translating Frankie's Journal that he kept over in Afghanistan...well, actually one of the only journals he has ever kept. And I say translating because sometimes Frankie's handwriting isn't the easiest to decipher - I am pretty good at it, but there are a few words I am still working on. :) His Journal is short, but says everything it needs to about how to correctly live a good life in its few entries. I am so amazed more and more everyday at how good of a man Frankie is. I have always thought that if more men were like him, this world would be a much better place.


One of my favorite lines is the first line in his journal because it is how both of us will feel forever. I thought I would share the first paragraph because it is so Frankie. :)

~Frankie writes:

"And so it begins. I love my wife. And my wife loves me. I have awesome and supportive parents with nothing but the best family including my extended family which I mean Brooke’s fam. I belong to the greatest church and I have a Savior, Jesus Christ, who died for me and his Father whose love for all is so much - it cannot be described. I am more than content with my life - I have a calm and peaceful home, a new truck and motorcycle; I even have a wii. I also need to mention I live in Hawai’i - but really these material things are nothing more than things. The stuff that counts are the people in our lives. The things that count are the things that can’t be replaced…like friends and family."


So, like the sticker says on the inside cover of his Journal - Life is Good. I hope all of you realize the important blessings surrounding you.


And so it has already begun. I love my husband. And my husband loves me. That eternal blessing and the knowledge of our Savior and Heavenly Father and my wonderful family and friends will get me through this life and back to my Love. I can't wait to see him again - and I know I will -and with that knowledge -Life is Good -
"Love is something eternal; the aspect may change, but not the essence."--Vincent van Gogh

12.01.2009

The Scream

In a page in his diary headed Nice 22.01.1892, Munch described his inspiration for the image thus:

"I was walking along a path with two friends — the sun was setting — suddenly the sky turned blood red — I paused, feeling exhausted, and leaned on the fence — there was blood and tongues of fire above the blue-black fjord and the city — my friends walked on, and I stood there trembling with anxiety — and I sensed an infinite scream passing through nature."

I did it. I let out my first scream. I think it is the holidays - the hurt. The void. My scream became screams and pounding and crying and feeling. Feeling what I have been feeling since March 27 at 4:30 p.m. The day my sky turned blood red. Feeling hate. Feeling angry. Feeling that my life is a big blur of a dream, that I can’t wait to be over. Feeling exhaused at keeping it in any longer. It built up inside me… in my chest. Where my broken-heart is trying not to break anymore at my lost dreams. My scream built up in my belly, in my head. I could not keep it in. I could not stand it anymore. I hope no one hears me scream – it sounded like someone being tortured – because that is what all this feels like inside me. It physically hurts every part of me.

I am kind of mad at myself for screaming – because now I am sick. And also because I know the Eternal promise Frankie and I have...but sometimes it doesn't make it any easier.

Screaming takes a lot out of a person. But – I guess that is the point.

11.23.2009

Proud Military Widow

Tonight I was having a conversation with a dear friend. I referred to myself as the dreaded word - “WIDOW.”
It was difficult for her to place me in that category. She did not want to call me a widow. She said she pictured like an old black widow, decrepit type of woman - wearing all black.


I picture that too.


But, unfortunately, the reality of this horrible situation is that I am a - duh, duh, duh…Widow. A 29 year old widow. For those of you who know me and Frankie well – this is a life sentence for me. A life sentence in “widow prison.” A prisoner of the mortal realm.


I read this quote the other day - "Most of our obstacles would melt away if, instead of cowering before them, we should make up our minds to walk boldly through them."- Orison Swett Marden
It is good, but I thought…what if our legs feel as if they have been taken from us? What if our purpose for living were removed? With Frankie no longer physically by my side, it feels as if my legs are gone.


I can’t seem to move
I can’t seem to rise
I can’t seem to be who I used to be
Without you by my side
I walk with my legs cut from under me
I run with nowhere in sight
I wake up and dread
What is left for me
I lay awake paralyzed
I sleep with no dreams
I arise with no dreams
I cry with no end in sight
Who is this person
Why can’t I look at my face
Why can’t I feel
Why can’t I be who I used to be
Without you….there is no me.
I never used to say I can’t
And now
I can’t breathe
I can’t move
I can’t be
I can’t be
I can’t….
But I must.

Sad, I know...Sorry, it is the widow in me :) ,but sometimes I can't help but feel hopeless. Other times - I am full of life and trying to fulfill my purpose - and I am like OK, Lord - Send me! I am here - help me so I can get back to my love already! I know that the Lord and Frankie will give me back the strength and guidance I need. I am grateful for the assurance of an eternal marriage – and for the Lord blessing me with such an amazing man. I know that our relationship is everlasting, and present, even through death, and the passage of time.

So, I have to learn to cope with my widow prison.

I must and am trying to “Cultivate an attitude of happiness. Cultivate a spirit of optimism. Walk with faith, rejoicing in the beauties of nature, in the goodness of those you (I) love, in the testimony which you (I) carry in your (my) heart concerning things divine." - Gordon B. Hinckley


Brooke,
……….I love and miss you so much baby. I know we will be more than fine and we will grow and be strengthened by this. I know this calling is just as difficult, if not more, for you than me. The Lord is with us and I am grateful that I have such a strong and faithful wife. Thank you Brooke. No worries about me, no matter what know that I Love you and that I am coming home to you. As long as you think of me I will always be with you and that I am always in your heart, and that you are always in mine. If you’re missing me just pray because I know the Lord will comfort us in this. 1st Nephi 3:7 (I know you read it). Brooke, please be safe and always have S.A. (Situral awareness) ((*for us this meant situational and spiritual combined)). I love you. I have to get going now.
Love you lovehead face…
To the love,
Your best friend, husband, and forever love,
Frankie


I Love you too baby – This is extremely difficult – I know it is for you too. We will make it my love. I will make it. I would choose to be in this life sentence of widow prison again and again, if it meant being blessed with you and this amazing love we have. The Lord loves us , and I know we will be together again.

I love you so much - so, so much.
Your best friend, wife, and forever love,
And now
Your Very Proud Military Widow,
Brooke

10.24.2009

Restless


Another restless night. I don't think there has been one night where I have been able to fall asleep without a struggle. I have been forcing myself to sleep in my bed the last few nights. I have been sleeping on a couch ever since Frankie left for Afghanistan, because that has been the easiest place for me to fall asleep. I think I have slept in a bed under 10 times...not counting hotel stays. There is just something about being able to fall asleep feeling held by the back of the couch...or distracted by the TV. I loved sleeping next to Frankie. We could sleep anywhere next to each other. We used to sleep in his Grammy's basement on the tiniest couch ever when we first started dating, and both of us had twin beds. So, moving to a full-sized bed seemed unecessary when we got married, but we did, because that is what our condo came furnished with! We would both wake up in the middle of the night, and reach out for one another if we were not touching.
I loved falling asleep with Frankie holding me, and waking up in the exact same position. I loved opening our curtains, with our wall of floor to ceiling windows and look out at the mountain peaks highlighted by the moon and the stars. I loved hearing and feeling the breeze coming in through our windows with the noises of the neighbors laughing,or the baby crying across the way. I loved the tick of the sound our fan made. I even loved how sometimes we would sweat a little, because Frankie was the air conditioning Nazi. I would just lay there wrapped up in him still. I loved waking up when he would be watching me sleep...or when I would sleep in, and he would be dressed and ready for work and gently kiss me goodbye. I loved waking up and watching him sleep, and hearing him breathe, and feeling his heartbeat with my head, or hand.
I loved how he would tell me how when I woke up everyday I always had a huge smile on my face, no matter what...and I would always reach out to him for him to come back and give me another kiss...and hold him tight and tell him not to go, to lay with me some more. I love how when he would go to leave, he would always come back and kiss me...like 5 times and he would have to force himself to leave the house. He would be like, "Okay, I have to go...I really have to go now...I'm gonna be late, I really need to go." He would be out the door, down the hall, and turn around and come back to kiss me again.
I have moved to sleeping in my bed because, I want to lay where Frankie would have laid. I always untuck the other side of the bed for him to come lay by me, and hold me. I position myself the way that I would have fallen asleep in his arms. I hope that sometimes, he is able to to come rest by me, and watch me sleep, and see my crazy hair...or mane as he would call it. I hope to see him in my dreams and talk to him, and smile and laugh how only we did together. I lay and stare now and cry, and take forever to sleep.... and I don't wake up with a smile. Although, for you my love....I certainly will try to face each day and night with the knowledge you are watching over me and missing me the same.
I miss you my love. I hope to see you in my dreams - walking hand-in-hand down the shoreline.

"I will not fail you, my love. I will continue on the path we shared and I know you will be there to help me, as you always were. And when we meet again at the journey’s end, and we laugh together once more, I will have a thousand things to tell you."
-Unknown


10.16.2009

A Love Eternal


It has been a year since Frankie left for Afghanistan. I truly cannot believe it has been that long. I really do not have any sense of time lately. Everyday is similar - everyday, I ache. As much as I try to put on a happy face...that is all it is...an exterior smile to mask my interior pain. I can't believe last year at this time Frankie and I were together wiping tears, holding each other, for one last time. Each kiss full of meaning - with purpose - conveying the overwhelming love between us.

But thankfully in between feeling so much pain these days, I am allowed to feel little specs of comfort, and light, and hope, and love -- So much love. Although everyday hurts missing him - I know that love is still here. I feel it -- his love radiates around me. It always has. With Frankie no distance has ever been too great, no physical separation could prevent us from ever feeling it. I am so grateful that I am Frankie's wife! He is my husband. Frankie Toner IV is my forever love - wow! He chose me to be his. I chose him to be mine. We are so blessed.


This is part of a poem I wrote lately - just how I have been feeling ~

He is my one and only---My for all time and eternity
I know we are God-given ---I just wish our time was more
Here on Earth ---On this forever empty shore
Waves crashing, Tears falling Into that never-ending ache
That pool of hurt---that tide of pain
Falling and rising - breaking over me
Until that day when these earthly bonds are broken
and we will rush to hold each other FOREVER more.

Frankie wrote this for me - it is one of my favorites - if not my favorite - I love him so much beyond description, and I feel his love for me! I feel you Frankie! I feel your never-ending love for me!

Brooke,

There is an ocean which no eye can see the end. There are no sides, no beaches, no banks, or beds - Just water that continues forever. Within this sea that has no end there is just two people. Just you and me - swimming and splashing, laughing and kissing. I hold you close as I lift my hand from the water we watch the water drip off my skin and it goes back to the ocean drop by drop. I look into your eyes so blue and true to me and say - "Each drop that must fall to fill this ocean is from my heart and each one is a piece of my love I have for you. As you can see it is never-ending. Never. With each passing unit of time my sea of love deepens for you Brooke. I love you."
Love,
Frankie

9.12.2009

Super Gloves and Hand-Warmers

Especially remembering my hero and my love, LTJG Frankie Toner IV, who was killed heroically in Northern Afghanistan on March 27, 2009 by drawing fire to himself in order to save two wounded comrades. He thought his parents were on the flight from Boston, when he watched the towers crumble from across the sound that day. Luckily they weren’t.

The last couple of days have been very hard for me. I have surrounded myself with the things that happened on September 11th, 2001. Everyday is difficult, and everyday I am tearful. But today. There is something different about today. I think it is because 8 years ago today was start of the difficulties I am facing now. 8 years ago Frankie and I were both in New York knowing things would never be the same.

Today I was able to have a thought about Frankie, that made me smile. Whenever I would send Frankie care packages to Afghanistan, I always made sure that he had the best of the best. I got things for him, and also for the guys he worked with. During the winter there, I wanted to make sure my baby was warm enough. I sent him some really great gloves, that are worn by special forces guys. They are thin, to allow for a comfortable hold on his weapon, but warm when needed, and they also allowed for cooling when it was hot out. They had hard knuckles that would protect his hands from bullets. Besides those gloves, I wanted to ensure that he would not be cold, so I sent him some packets of hand and foot warmers. Oh, and extra warm socks. Frankie always liked getting new socks. He always said that one of the things he loved was putting on new socks…and knew that he would have made it if he could wear new socks everyday.

Frankie called me one day when he got back from a convoy after visiting an Afghan Police Station. He said when he was there…he kept noticing all the kids walking in the streets. The thing was, that the kids all seemed to be under the age of 7 or 8…and it was -10 degrees outside, maybe colder…and the children were not dressed appropriately for the cold to say the least. One of the children, walking alone…in the snow wearing socks with sandals…and a thin layer of clothing came up to Frankie. Frankie saw him shivering, and was thinking how cold this child must have been. Frankie was wearing his thermal gear underneath his uniform, warm socks, gloves, and the under armour beanie I had gotten him, and he was still cold.
Frankie was thinking the boy might want candy, because it is typical for the troops to hand out candy when they are on convoys. Frankie did not have any candy. He had grabbed about 7, or so, of the hand-warming packets I had sent to have with him on his freezing ride as the gunner for the trip. He took one out of the hand-warmers, shook it and showed the child that it would keep his hands warm. The child took it, and just walked away. Frankie wasn’t sure if he was disappointed that he did not get the candy he was after. A few minutes later, another child walked in and walked directly up to Frankie, shivering. Frankie knew what he was after. He took another handwarmer out of his pocket and handed it the child. Before the child left, two more were on their way in. This time, it was a little girl…maybe 5 or six…holding a smaller child, around 2 years old, Frankie guessed. About 5 more children came up to Frankie. He did not have enough to give them all one.
Frankie after telling me this, choked up, because he knew the warmth of those handwarmers would go away, and the children would be cold again.
I have just been thinking about that today. We made sure that he always had enough handwarmers after that, and also started gathering winter clothing for Frankie to hand out. I love that I am married to a man whose heart was so big for every person that he met. That is what made me smile.
I hope that our presence in Afghanistan will be a source of warmth for the people there. I hope that we will not give up on them. I hope the children will be able to grow up with the warmth of knowing they have a chance. 8 years ago today changed a lot for both of our countries. It gave us the resolve to fight extreme terrorism – I hope that the Afghan people will stand with us. They have already faced enough of the cold.

7.24.2009

Never Forget Francis L. Toner IV

"LTJG Toner - Running 75 yards or so behind in full IBA (he was training to become a SEAL) , LTJG Toner heroically sacrificed his life attempting to save LT Choe and CDR Lebel. He was also gunned down while charging the attacker to prevent a second volley at point blank range which eventually took LT Choe's life. His actions likely distracted the attacker and saved the CDR's life. He was due home on leave the very next week..." - John Miller -

Frankie had dropped back in his run to motivate his buddy Carlos, who was new at wearing his IBA that day. This is an account of a fellow Kings Pointer who was Frankie's roommate and friend during his time in Afghanistan-

"Frank Toner, a 06 grad and one other female navy LT were shot and killed by an ANA soldier who was also apparently an insurgent. Frank and I lived in the same hut and he worked at the desk next to mine. There were two others, a LTjg friend of mine and a CDR who were also involved. The CDR was wounded and will be okay, and the jg will be okay, just shaken up. We were a running group and I was running well ahead of them this time. The shooting happened behind me after I ran past, maybe 4 or 5 minutes after I was at the site. Everyone here is real shook up right now. About a dozen of the Navy garrison escorted the remains back to Bagram and had a ceremony for them. There are a lot of people on the way here to my camp for the service. The one the Germans gave yesterday morning prior to loading them on the aircraft was very nice. The had what seemed to be almost all the base lining the road for probably a mile, all holding torches and saluting, while the caskets were driven past with the Navy marching behind. Bagram was a little overwhelming, there are like 20K people there. Everyone here liked him, he never spoke bad about anyone, and LT Choe, the other victim was the same, a good person. She was doing a lot with the MWR program here. Anyway, tell the school Frank went down trying to get to the shooter. He was a hero and everyone here is still trying to accept what happened. His actions probably saved my friend's life. He was the last runner in our group, also wearing his armor, and it slowed him down as the stuffweighs so much, so he was in the rear. The news sources are getting a lot of details wrong, but as the investigation is going on, I don't want to say or speculate too much. Just the other day we joked about building something here with the KPS hidden in it." Matt Hume


There really are no words. I told him not to be a hero....but I knew he would never be anything less.

3.20.2009

Ferocious Furby?

So, Frankie and I had a very interesting conversation today. Do you remember those Furby toys that were so popular in the 1990's? Well, apparently they found the real life version of the toy in Indonesia last year. Although, its actual name is the Pygmy Tarsier, it was a great find because it has not been seen for approx. 80 years. OK, so why this information? Well, Frankie and I had a dispute about how ferocious they are! I claimed that it looked pretty harmless? What do you think? Kind of like Gizmo from the Gremlins....Frankie says it beats out the Honey Badger, which is my favorite ferocious beast. (Another post for another time)! :) I think not, my love. I think not!

3.04.2009

The Culprit


But really, how can you be mad at this?!!
He is too stinkin' cute...
destructive, but adorable.


Since I have been living with my three year old nephew...costs have been adding up. So far, he has broken my sunglasses, cell phone, and just recently my brand new camera. aaargh!


2.26.2009

Buy Hashbrowns


Really?
That is all I have to say about that! :) oh....silly Idaho...

1.17.2009

video

This video was of a convoy the guys went on for a project site visit, however it was a failed attempt. One of the humvees broke down. Frankie was the gunner for the trip. Kinda scary, but all in a days work over there. His friend put this video together. I thought it was pretty cool.

So, here I am in Idaho, with my husband in Afghanistan. It is somewhat depressing, from what we have experienced thus far, but I am keeping my spirits up and keeping myself busy. I am just really proud of Frankie, and all he is accomplishing. Actually, a neat news article dealing with Frankie and some e-mails he sent to some pretty high ranking officials actually had an impact:

http://www.reuters.com/article/vcCandidateFeed2/idUSN16287541

There really isn't very much for me to blog about. I am just hanging out with the fam, have a head cold, and am job hunting, since I graduated last year! yay! finally!!