Can you hear me now?

Today, I had to go get a new phone, since mine has been having issues for a while now.

I was changing some of the details of our plan, to lower the monthly payment.  Frankie's line has been suspended since October 18, 2008.  His name is still the main name on the account.  His phone is still the primary number.  His super-secret password is still needed to gain access. 

The guy helping me was super nice,  and we were laughing a lot, and he was newly married in San Diego (same as Frankie and I).  When he started asking questions about the suspended line because it was giving him trouble in making changes to the account and about Frankie, I had to fill him in.  "My husband is deceased.  We suspended his line before he went overseas to Afghanistan. He was killed over there."

He gently asked, "Would you like me to cancel his line? His name will still be on the account, until you provide documentation, but we can remove that line, if you want?"

My stomach started feeling sick, and that question felt so heavy. I mean, why would I not cancel it?  It would make sense to right?  But, why was it making me feel this way?  Maybe because that line signifies in a very small way the joining of our lives together --- What couples do after they get married:  joint phone account, joint bank account, joint e-mail, for us even a joint facebook.
This means that his line no longer exists.  His phone number that we spent countless hours on could belong to someone else.  I can't call him anymore, ever again. 

"Yes.... You can cancel it."

He politely said, "You can leave it on if you would like." I think he saw my light attitude diminish for a second.  

I said, "No, I just haven't had the heart to do it myself, but obviously I don't need it."

It just got me thinking about how much I miss talking to Frankie, hearing his sweet voice and his amazing laugh.  It feels like forever ago since we last talked. We upped our minutes while he was gone from 700 to 1400.  We used them all every month, and sometimes went over.  Now, I only average around 400, if that.

I miss our amazing, deep, funny, loving conversations, about everything.  I miss hearing his voice crack and him trying not to cry over how much he missed me.  Yes, Frankie would cry.  :)  He wasn't the type to hold back how he was truly feeling.  I love that about him. 
I miss my husband.  I just miss him so much.

I will still talk to him minus phone line --- at least we cut costs. :)  
Trying to look at the bright side.  bleh! :(  And the bright side really sucks most times, and is actually pretty dark lately.  

4 years and 3 months baby and 33 minutes! I love you and miss you so much.  Hope to talk to you in my dreams.
Forever yours, B



Our favorite photo, that we always carried with us anytime we were away from one another. We thought it was the perfect photo to have at our wedding. 

After Frankie was killed, I had to go back to Hawaii to take care of our belongings --- 
I decided to stay for six months to be by myself away from everyone. Hawaii was home for our first two years of married life. Our paradise. Our blessing of a duty station.  Moving back was my way of trying to find healing, to be in a place that we loved so much and to force myself to face doing things on my own again.

I did the things we would have done, only solo most of the time. The grief was overwhelming and made me fear what was ahead sometimes, but all I had to do was go to a place I loved, or a place Frankie would have loved, (usually one in the same) and I would feel better.  The beach, a hike, to the movies, out to dinner, take a swim in the ocean, on a bike ride, or a long run.  It was strange at first doing everything on my own, but I thought --- well... I better get used to it, because I knew long before he was killed that if anything ever happened to one of us, we were still married for time and all eternity.  We talked about it once, after a grand-parent had passed, when we were only  a few months into dating, and we both locked eyes, tears formed --- and we both said without saying it that we would wait... while our heads nodded in agreement.  It was too difficult even then to imagine life without one another, and six years later even more unbearable to fathom. 

I lived in a different town on a different shore of the island, only because I found a beautiful, safe place to live, and I know Frankie would have been adamant about me finding somewhere with a gated complex, security, a parking garage, and a dead-bolt lock; all on the highest floor, of course. 
He was always nervous about me being alone.  I have always been very independent, with a good head on my shoulders. I moved to New York at 17 just after graduating high school by myself, but Frankie never wanted anything to happen to me while he was away... I think it was his worst fear --- I know exactly how he felt.  

So here I was alone --- without Frankie --- but with him too.  With him in our love, and in our memories.  It was such a difficult time for me, but a beautiful time for me as well.  I learned so much more about how our love truly would never fade and how I know without a doubt that our marriage is eternal.  I learned that he is with me where ever I choose to take him.  I learned that my heart, though shattered at the thought of facing this life without him, would make it through, and that it was because of the gift of him that I am able to feel peaceful and somehow content at facing the deepest void a human being can possibly feel. I felt that peace almost immediately, and always in my darkest hours.

I learned that our love, our beautiful gift of love from God would always give me joy, and that I have so much to be thankful for.  So much beyond description really.  I learned I will take Frankie with me everywhere I go.  Any path I choose to take is mine for the taking, because I know he wants me to experience this life as fully as possible, and I know he will be waiting and preparing for my return, and then we will know true paradise and we will be home together forever.
And I know he will be proud that I did it by myself --- all alone....but not really. 

I am so in love with you Frankie.  I can't wait to take your love everywhere with me.

Frankie would have loved it here --- so I had to take a semi-illegal photo... :)



trav·el  (trvl)
v. trav·eled or trav·elled, trav·el·ing or trav·el·ling, trav·els
1. To go from one place to another, as on a trip; journey.
2. To go from place to place as a salesperson or agent.
3. To be transmitted, as light or sound; move or pass.
4. To advance or proceed.
5. To go about in the company of a particular group; associate: travels in wealthy circles.
6. To move along a course, as in a groove.
7. To admit of being transported without loss of quality; Some wines travel poorly.
8. Informal To move swiftly.

I could not have asked for better travel companions next to Frankie.  Traveling with a group of military widows is the way to go.  None of us take life for granted.  Somehow, we manage to brighten up every situation we are in, and people are drawn to us like bees to blooming flowers.  We make friends of complete strangers, and a night out on the town is spent taking in the sights and sounds and laughing out loud, and not wanting to waste a second of any day.  We are willing to take risks, and go our own way if something is not working.  Our love for our husbands pounds in our hearts and we know they are with us every step of the way.  
They are willing to listen to my millions of stories of Frankie and continue to ask more questions about him when others won't even mention his name. And, when we have those tender moments thinking about our loves, we know that shedding a few tears is good for the soul, and no one can quite grasp the immense pain behind those tears, besides each other. 
I am so thankful for making such great friends.  

I cannot wait for our next trip!  Somewhere warmer next time!  :)  

Funny Travel Story:

Me speaking to retried military man and wife on airplane after he noticed my bracelet,
I tell him about Frankie being killed. 
He asks me if I am dating again, or if it is too soon?

I say, No, and I know that I never will and that Frankie is still my husband and that death does not stop love.
Man looks skeptical.

Later in the conversation, I ask him if him and his wife have children after he asked me the same question... I answer the same way every time:  No, unfortunately.  They decided to never have any children. 
I tell him I got a fur baby. 
He brightens up all excited and says that they had the same dog for 18 years.  They rescued him, and he tells me he was the perfect dog.  He never bit, peed in the house, he loved people, and was like their child.  After losing him they knew that he could never be replaced because there could never be a more perfect dog.
They never even considered getting another pet. 

Me not being able to help myself say:   Sounds like me with my husband!  :)


Light - Chested

I hope your birthday yesterday in heaven was fabulous.  I hope we made you proud. Your love continues to spread into all of our lives.

It is amazing how one day can be so amazing, and then there are days like today where the realization hits that Frankie was killed only 18 months ago today.  Today had its ups and downs.  I shared laughs and tears at lunch with Amanda (Frankie's sister) and an amazing friend I met who he trained with at Fort Riley.  Dinner was spent with good friends we made in Hawaii.... but there was a cloud on the whole day, because it is the 27th. It was hard to lift that cloud.  It is hard knowing that when I drive to the cemetery, that I will be doing this the rest of my life, until I am in the grave with him.

A year and a 1/2.  It feels so long ago.  Today I found out more information about how Frankie was killed.  Facts I did not know, or that were somehow skipped in the investigation report.  How am I just finding this out?  It is tough to take in, but I am even more proud of him.  He is a hero, and deserves the highest honor that I will fight my entire life to get for him if I have to.  A year and a half later, my love --- ugh.

I love him more today than last.

I will love him forever.

So far it is not easier, and sometimes I wonder how breath continues to fill my lungs.

And I know it comes from him.  From the love he breathes into me.
And when I feel it, my love, my heart beats so fast and so hard I get all "light - chested"  like we used to say, and I know you are here, and I know that you will continue to fill me with your love all of my life.

That smile on my face now is from the love I have been so blessed to feel.
That motivation to continue comes with the hope that I will live my life to reach you someday.

I miss you Frankie. I love you. As you did to me --- I will make you so proud.



Forever Forward


I saw this poem on another blog and wanted to post it on mine:  

"It isn't letting go
its going on.
It isn't only shadows 
and it isn't only dawn. 
...it's letting it come through me, 
not living in the darkness 
though the darkness I can see. 
Its living with the sorrow 
but finding memories sweet. 
Its knowing that it takes both sides 
to make it all complete. 
It's soaking up the sunshine 
along with the rain 
Its learning to let laughter 
live side by side with pain. 
Its knowing that the past 
won't change a love that's real 
or take away the joy you brought 
or the sorrow that I feel. 
Its knowing tears and laughter 
can live on the same face, 
and your impression on my heart 
can never be erased."

The only part I don't really like, is the beginning about going on.  I hate anything with the connotation of "life goes on"  or "moving on"
I understand that life goes on, trust me.... when it felt like the world should have stopped moving...It didn't.....
but for me it is about moving forward --- trying to embrace life again, with all that has been taken from me for now.  
I am trying to keep that all-important eternal perspective.  I like to say I am moving 
 And somehow I know Frankie is always by my side, and will be my side 
physically again.  

"And so make life, and death, and that vast forever one grand sweet song." 
- Charles Kingsley

With every setting sun my love grows for you Frankie.  A hui hou!


Happiness -- by me.

"People think they know you. They think they know how you're handling a situation. But the truth is no one knows. No one knows what happens after you leave them, when you're lying in bed or sitting over your breakfast alone and all you want to do is cry or scream. They don't know what's going on inside your head--the mind-numbing cocktail of anger and sadness and pain. This isn't their fault. They just don't know. And so they pretend and they say you're doing great when you're really not. And this makes everyone feel better. 
Everybody but you."

— William H. Woodwell, Jr.

It is amazing really how so many scatter and disconnect from the grieving.  It is almost like a separate loss after already losing everything.  After Frankie's burial, we had a beautiful gathering, where everyone just got up if they felt like it and said a favorite memory, or a funny story about something they did with Frankie.  There were some tears, but mostly laughing out loud at the crazy things Frankie would do, or praising him for his amazing qualities.
I remember when his Dad got up, he asked everyone who was there not to forget me, and then had them raise their hands if they would be here to support me in the long-run.

EVERYONE raised their hands --- and at that moment, it felt great --- I felt a little reassured.

But now, most of those hands are just blurs of a broken promise.  Not all, but most.

I say I am doing fine, or great... and they pretend to believe me.  Or they just don't care enough to even find out.

Sorry, I usually try to keep things pretty positive on here, for Frankie ---
And for me, but this is such a strange reality for me.

I am a widow --- not a leper.

I am amazed by this concept really, and frustrated, but  I have learned there are amazing people out there and I have learned to rely on them ---

But mostly, I have learned to rely on myself, and on our love.

I have learned to raise my hand, for my own happiness --- and am eternally grateful for Frankie's unconditional love and for the people who have helped me when my arm feels weak.


Happy Anniversary

As this day ends, I think of where Frankie and I were four years ago.  Just married, starting our amazing honeymoon, and the rest of our amazing lives together.

Who would have thought this would be the hand we would be dealt?

The pain of this is indescribable.  Missing him on this day, where we looked into each other's eyes and vowed to God and to one another, a sacred promise to love eternally.  We were so happy that day...we kissed before we were supposed to during our ceremony.  We could not help it, our faces just kept getting closer and closer.  We were so ready and excited to be married.  By the end of the night our faces actually hurt from smiling so much.  

Everyone says remember the memories --- and how I cling to them, but sometimes I think, he is so much more than that.  I have felt his love, his kiss, his shining soul and smile looking into mine.... And sometimes memories simply are not enough.  I wish I could explain how perfect we are for each other.  How wonderful every moment together was.  Together we are undefinable, perfectly matched, and if put simply -- eternal soul mates.  And that is what will get me through.  Not just amazing memories, but the fact that I know the universe brought us together --- and could not be cruel enough to take him from me forever.  That his love still grows for me, and mine for him.  And that we will be together again.  

I am truly amazed by our love --- I am in awe of the man I love and will continue to feel that love and show him everyday.    
I think Frankie put it best in our last anniversary card at two years.  We did not spend the day together, because he was in Kansas training for his deployment, the last couple of lines define so much of how I feel today.  

...I could never be fully myself without you by my side.  There is this void now that I know can never be filled again until you're next to me and we are holding hands and looking into each other's eyes whispering I love you.  I love and miss you so much babe and wish I could be there with you on our day.  
To the love,

“The dawn is not distant, nor is the night starless; love is eternal."
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
"Of all the music that reached farthest into heaven, it is the beating of a loving heart." 
--Henry Ward Beecher


More than just a dog.

 Frankie and I always talked about our future dogs.  We would have two.  He wanted to get me one if he got deployed, but because his deployment was not the typical one, and one that came up so quickly, the timing was wrong.  Plus, I wanted him to take part in the puppy-hood stage.  We had the names picked out and everything.  

Our puppy plan is sounding similar to our having children plan!  :)  Well, obviously we never got that chance, so I am working on the one that I can.  I am so excited to have a puppy.  He is my baby that I always wanted by age 30 and the new little guy in my life for the next 10 - 15 years.

 I am so excited his name will be Kailua.  Frankie and I picked that name out to always remember our first long-term duty station in Hawaii.  One of our favorite places in the world.  The place that will always remind me of our first and second year of marriage.  The place where we would takes walks or runs almost everyday down to the beach.  I loved holding his hand, talking and laughing about everything, but mostly our about our future together, and how we could not believe how blessed we had been so far and could not wait for so much more to come.  

Having a puppy is a big step for me because to me it represents so many things.  First -- I am ready to take care of not only myself, but another living creature.  Next, I am actually imagining being here on this earth for another 10 - 15 years of my dog's lifespan.  Right after Frankie was killed, I thought God would be nice and find a way to take me right along with him somehow.... I imagined a vicious great white shark attack, a car accident, dying from a freak gasoline fight (Zoolander reference) :)   or maybe even the end of the world.  But, it has been a year and 4 months and none of those things have happened yet ---- and I can honestly say I am happy they didn't happen.  Although, death doesn't scare me, I know there is still so much for me to do in this life, and Frankie will be there throughout it and at the end no matter what - whether it is 5 years or 75 years more.  And lastly, I am still going to work on mine and Frankie's hopes and dreams... with our puppy by my side.  

The Toner's Pup

From time to time, people tell me,
"lighten up, it's just a dog,"
or, "that's a lot of money for just a dog."
They don't understand the distance traveled,
the time spent, or the costs involved for
"just a dog."
Some of my proudest moments have come about with
"just a dog."
Many hours have passed and my only company was
"just a dog,"
but I did not once feel slighted.
Some of my saddest moments have been brought about by
"just a dog,"
and in those days of darkness,
the gentle touch of "just a dog"
gave me comfort and reason to overcome the day.
If you, too, think it's "just a dog,"
then you will probably understand phases
like "just a friend," "just a sunrise," or
"just a promise."
"Just a dog" brings into my life the very essence
of friendship, trust, and pure unbridled joy.
"Just a dog" brings out the compassion and
patience that make me a better person.
Because of "just a dog" I will rise early,
take long walks and look longingly to the future.
So for me and folks like me, it's not "just a dog"
but an embodiment of all the hopes and dreams
of the future, the fond memories of the past,
and the pure joy of the moment.
"Just a dog" brings out what's good in me and
diverts my thoughts away from myself and the
worries of the day.
I hope that someday they can understand that
it's not "just a dog"
but the thing that gives me humanity and keeps
me from being "just a man."
So the next time you hear the phrase "just a dog."
just smile, because they "just don't understand."
by: Sandra Dee Adopted Shepherd Mix, Born May 2004. 


"Love is the very essence of life. It is the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Yet it is not found only at the end of the rainbow. Love is at the beginning also, and from it springs the beauty that arched across the sky on a stormy day. Love is the security for which children weep, the yearning of youth, the adhesive that binds marriage, and the lubricant that prevents devastating friction in the home; it is the peace of old age, the sunlight of hope shining through death. How rich are those who enjoy it in their associations with family, friends, and neighbors! Love, like faith, is a gift of God. It is also the most enduring and most powerful virtue."
—Gordon B. Hinckley

My Birthday Rainbows.


"Happy" Birthday....

(All little pieces from my last Birthday card from Frankie while he was training at Fort Riley before being deployed).  

There is so much I could say about turning 30 and what my past amazing birthdays have been like with Frankie, but the one thing that will come out of it is exactly what he said in my last birthday card that he ever gave me.... and that is that I wish we could be together.  This is not how I pictured my life at 30 going...but I know Frankie's love will get me through another day --- closer to him.

Love you baby. You are with me always.


The Gene Machine

If X = Love

So, lately I haven't been able to write very much, it just spirals down to this really dark place that I have been in recently, and I stop.

I have been wanting to post something for a little while, and was not sure what to put. Tonight, I found it! I was going through this treasure box, where I have kept things that Frankie has given me or things that we have done from the time we started dating. I have old notes, his football game tickets, even napkins that he wrote on. I even have the first gift he ever gave me, which is an old lollipop with a disgusting worm inside! Weird, I know... but I love him for it!

So, I scanned some of the things that were aging rapidly and falling apart to have them forever, and these two stood out!

I love how he wrote me an equation of how much he loves me in response to a love note I had sent him during church. The number is endless.

And the second image is just ridiculous. It is our computer generated future child....
Our Francis Lawrence Toner V. Our friends went in and they had a cute little baby created. Frankie and I went in, and came out with a 7 -year old child! With a flat-top crew cut! I know we would have had a huge baby, since Frankie was 11 lbs and all of my 7 siblings weighed anywhere from 8-11 pounds.

I truly wish we would have had the chance to have our freakishly huge baby. :) I am making light of it, but I am turning 30 in a few weeks, and always imagined we would be amazing parents by now. Our kid would have been a looker... and Frankie would have been the best dad.

I just miss him so much. I miss how weird we are together, and how much we laughed together, and made funny noises and sang each other songs, and looked forward to the future together, and how we motivated each other and how we selflessly loved. I miss his eyes, his smile, his voice, his laugh, his jokes, his kiss, his skin, his face, holding his hand, his stories, cooking him dinner, sleeping by his side, waking up and seeing him watching me sleep, watching him sleep, playing games, going on walks to the beach, working out together, him playing with my hair, going on dates to the dollar theatre, sitting next to him at church, his letters, notes and poems for me, my best friend, my everything, my husband.

I miss and love him infinitely times 10 to the infinite power. :)


Falling in love ROCKS!

My little sister Ashley got married on Friday June 4th. It was such a beautiful day. She asked me to do a remembrance of Frankie and I was honored to be a part of her ceremony, and be able to share what a special gift it is to fall in love. I read them something Frankie had written for me, and changed the end and took out the personalized lines for Frankie and I in it, to be for them.

I was able to see her and Matt's love, as well as feel the love that Frankie and I share. This is what I shared with them just before she walked down the aisle.....

"Today I stand here with you to honor your love and watch you commit your love to one another. Joining in marriage, bringing a family together, promising to love---
I have loved seeing you fall in love in such a short time.
I know that feeling --- I am still falling in love every day.
We all know and feel Frankie's presence today --- His love knows no bounds
And this poem he wrote should be an everyday feeling the two of you should carry with you the rest of your lives and even beyond.
He called it

You're falling
When you smile ear to ear when you see them
When five hours seems like five minutes
When the world stops spinning when you're together
When you get lost in your own little world
When a kiss gives you the tingles
When a hug is all you need
When you can sit in silence and love it
When you enjoy doing things for them
When one of your favorite things is to watch them sleep in your arms
When all you want is for them to be happy
When you smile when they call even though they cannot see it
When nothing else matters when you're together
These above are the the signs that you feel when you're falling in love
And Matt and Ashley this is why I know you have fallen in love.

Ashley and Matt,
Keep falling in love and with every setting sun show one another the love you have.
I still feel mine and Frankie's love growing every day.
He is always with us."

I then lit a candle by a photo of Frankie and his smiling face.

I am so happy for my sister, her son and Matt.

I love, love.


John Wooden's Love Letter

I posted this on facebook, and love it so much I wanted to post it here.

John Wooden passed on June 4, 2010. I know his reunion with his wife was a beautiful one, and I look up to him for continuing to keep his promise that there will never be another. I know exactly how he feels.

"Truly, truly, truly love. The most powerful thing there is. It's true. It's true. It must be true."

Poem, by Sven Nater:
Once I was afraid of dying,
terrified of ever-lying,
petrified of leaving family, home and friends.
Thoughts of absence from my dear ones,
brought a melancholy tear once,
and a dreadful, dreadful feeling of when life ends.
But those days are long behind me,
fear of leaving does not bind me,
and departure does not hold a single care.
Peace does comfort as I ponder,
a reunion in the yonder,
with my dearest one who is waiting for me there.


Mourning Booth

Today a friend contacted me; her niece's fiance died last week. She told me that her niece told her the pain was so bad, all her muscles hurt, and sometimes it felt like someone was standing on her chest. I know that pain. That continuous ache. She asked me for help on what to say...what words would bring her niece comfort. How could she assure her that the pain would subside?

I could not think of any words. I do not know if the pain will subside. Because as time passes for me, the pain seems to increase. Everything is painful --- thinking, writing, smiling, crying, sleeping, driving, dressing, moving, breathing, living. It all hurts. Even describing it hurts. I am not good at sharing my pain; I actually prefer not to, because it is too difficult for me.

What doesn't hurt, is talking about him, sharing our love, our time here. It makes him so real. It brings him here. He IS real. He is my eternal love. Without any doubt. That warms my soul and makes the pain subside.

I love that people always want to know what words will help. I appreciate it. I truly do --- even when most of the time, the things are not always the right thing, or the best thing to say; at least they try. Grieving and mourning are painful, but after a loved one dies --- everyone grieves differently, everyone has different pain. It seems like it will never end --- and I know I am still in the valley. I am mourning; my friend's niece is mourning. It hurts. There is no magical formula on what words to say.

What I do know is that there is comfort in all the pain. From my love; and from my Savior. I feel them both guiding me and helping me, and strengthening me. I find comfort in sharing stories with other widow's, and the love we have and will always have. I find comfort in my sister sitting with me in my room, while I share pictures that no one has seen, or while I read her all the poems and notes Frankie has written me, or her taking on the difficult task of dusting Frankie's flags, pictures, plaques, and awards for me while I travel. I find comfort in love. The love of my soul-mate, the love of my Savior, the love of all those who miss their spouse, fiance, friend, sibling, child....

And I especially find comfort in the knowledge that I know we will see them again. We will.



Looking Forward to seeing My Family on Memorial Day

I have this family you see,
They are of every age, every race, every religion
We meet me in the field and we talk about how, and why,
and where, and when..

We focus on the good parts,
and try to let them know the most important person in our lives.

We wish this family never had to be, but
We understand each other
We know what it is like to grieve
We cry together
We believe together
We hope together
We miss them beyond words.

Each headstone lined up has a family who still miss them every day,

and people’s lives they have touched along their path of life.

We all feel they are gone much too soon, but

We all know one thing for sure...

We are a family of The Heroes
Buried in section 60 –

I also have to mention the families of those not buried at Arlington, but all around the country. I feel so blessed to have made sisters (widsters) to share this journey with because of Michael and Taryn Davis and the American Widow Project - Their love spreads through the whole organization, and allows the rest of us to share ours as well!

And I think of the wonderful families I have met during my trips to Arlington, like the Wests, and the Khans. Cannot wait to give everyone big hugs!

After spending a day with C.J. West's family, I wrote this. Love them.

With every setting sun, my love grows for you Frankie. I love you.


Our Flag

I was just lying awake, like usual at 3 in the morning, looking through some of our photos for the millionth time, and was noticing how in so many of them the American Flag has made its appearance. These were just a few...
From when we were first dating, the flag has followed us. There are the tattered flags held by what we called our "Freedom Bears."

Even in one of our favorite photos, Frankie's shirt slightly displays the waving American flag, in the lettering.

On our wedding day we had this beautiful time where he was holding me, and we were looking out into the San Diego Harbor, and feeling so blessed that we had become an eternal husband and wife. The flag, looming above us, perhaps representing what would come.
On our honeymoon, which was such a beautiful time in our lives, we captured our appreciation for our "Freedom Lizard," and we also stood in front of a giant backdrop of the American flag for a fun photo-op.

And now, that flag that we so love, that flag that has made an appearance, and seemed to almost haunt us... is forever embedded in our love. It is a symbol of a beautiful country, a beautiful love, a hero's blood given for the love of his country and his fellow men. A flag he was proud to serve.
A flag I proudly display. A flag that on April 16, 2009 was taken from my husband's casket, folded into a perfect triangle, and presented to me with honor, love, and respect. A flag that haunts me; that reminds me daily of what it truly means to love the United States of America. And, I love it --- I love it with all of my heart and soul.

I am so proud of him. So proud.

Love you baby. With every setting sun, my love grows for you.

"The flag of the United States has not been created by rhetorical sentences in declarations of independence and in bills of rights. It has been created by the experience of a great people, and nothing is written upon it that has not been written by their life. It is the embodiment, not of a sentiment, but of a history." -Woodrow Wilson-


From somewhere in Switzerland

Florence at sunset on the Arno River

I have been traveling around Europe for the past month…. And although great, I can’t help but think with everything I see that Frankie should be physically by my side. I do know that he is always with me, but he isn’t here to hold my hand, kiss me at the top of the Eiffel Tower, or laugh with me at the things I know only he would think were funny. I know I would be enjoying all these things so much more if he were here. We were supposed to do this together. He is supposed to sit with me at a cafe, outside in the beautiful spring weather, for hours laughing and talking about nothing or everything. Now I sit there, and think of just him. I think of our lives and what was supposed to be. I think, that this world, in all its splendor and beauty --- its amazing history and architecture, its Winged Victory and Mona Lisa....and nothing; nothing is as beautiful as us together. I am so blessed to see these things and we always talked about seeing them together; so, I am seeing it for us. But, all their beauty is nothing compared to our beautiful love. All their beauty is nothing compared to what it will be like when we are together again.

Nothing is as beautiful as our love --- nothing.

April 20th, 2010 --- I wrote:

Today I am in Versaille

I feel him

All around me

The beauty of this place is indescribable...

Like our Love

For you my love, it's all for you.

With every setting sun, my love grows for you.

I just loved this sculpture


Give me the Strength to Overcome

We walked hand in hand at the airport. I was sending my husband, my love, my everything off on his flight back to Kansas before he headed overseas….Off to war. He carried himself differently in his uniform. He had faced his biggest fears already, knowing he was going over there. He was ready to fight for us. He knew his mission. He wanted to help the Afghan people to overcome their adversities. I supported him. He was suddenly my soldier…with his head held high, ready to take on the tasks and challenges he knew he would face there.

From Frankie’s Journal, he wrote this the day before he left:

----- So I am still a little perplexed on what to write in this book but I think I am starting to come around. Tomorrow I am headed to Afghanistan for an all expense paid vacation :). At this moment and especially after last night which I will probably also write about I have a peace and comfort feeling upon me. I think I can relate to Nephi at the moment concerning when his father asked him to go to Jerusalem and retrieve the records of the Jews and his families genealogy. Though this task for him to accomplish was dangerous and by no means easy he knew he could do it because though his father asked him to go he knew in his heart that it was a commandment from the Heavenly Father. He was at peace with this difficult assignment because he knew that “The Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the things which he commandeth them.” (1st Nephi 3:7).
Like Nephi, I feel at peace with my mission to Afghanistan because I know the Lord prepared the way for me to get to Afghanistan in only a manner that I know only He can do. And I know I can accomplish the things he has in store for me only through his Son Jesus Christ who gives me strength.

1 Nephi 3:7 – The Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them.

Philippians 4:13 – I can do all things through the Lord who strengthens me.

I no longer believe in coincidence. I know all things happen for a reason and if one keeps the commandments of the Lord these so called coincidences are in fact stepping stones on the path which the Lord has prepared to accomplish the purpose of their life – one little mission at a time.-----

The word overcome was something Frankie took to heart, along with his favorite verse, Philippians 4:13 – Frankie and I could overcome anything because we knew the Savior would help us through.

We stopped at a sandwich shop and ate some food, both of us just not really believing he was leaving for a whole year. Luckily, we got to see each other after his 3 months of training, for 10 days, but a total of 15 months…ugh! We both knew the void we would feel without being able to be near each other. We talked and laughed and ate. We stopped for an instant, looked each other in the eyes…tears forming, but fighting them back. He wasn’t gone yet.

Walking up to his gate was the most difficult. My stomach in knots, just like the night I found out that he was possibly going on an IA to Afghanistan. People couldn’t help but watch a loving wife sending her husband off to war. We held each other, kissed and tried holding back tears. He was the last to board the plane. One last embrace, like we have never before - The I love you’s, a continuous stream. He held me tight, he gently wiped my tears with his thumb and held my face…I said, “I’m not strong enough.”
I did not mean I wasn’t strong enough to handle being away from each other for this amount of time. We had done it before, when we were dating. He sailed around the world for his school, the United States Merchant Marine Academy for long periods of time.
This was different - I meant I was not strong enough to handle the thought of him….my soul mate, best-friend, eternal companion, my love…not coming back to me. Frankie called me once he got on the plane. His voice cracked, and I knew he was fighting back the tears. Did he feel the knot I felt? I did not think this way while he was gone… We both stayed positive, but something in that knot in my stomach kept at me.

I knew when Frankie was coming home on leave. We had a secret code for him telling me the exact date, since he wasn’t supposed to. We always had secret codes. April 1st. It was Friday-March 27th. For some reason I sensed something. I pushed it aside. Frankie hadn’t called me at his usual time. Around 9 or 10 in the morning. His night time. We talked twice a day every day. Usually more. I talked to him the night before, (In Afghanistan it was the morning of the day he was killed) and we talked about so much, and how excited we were for him to be coming home, and all the awesome things we had planned --- he said, “It feels like Christmas is coming.” We prayed together, like every night, but I remember saying please keep Frankie safe more than usual. We said I love you so many times. We never wanted to get off the phone, but this time seemed different.

At 4:15 p.m. I had just gotten out of the shower and was doing my spa thing, thinking Frankie could show up tomorrow! Maybe he hadn’t called me because he began his travels. Even though I knew April 1st was the estimated date, I hadn’t come to set anything in stone that the military told us. Maybe Frankie was going to surprise me.
I felt like he was coming home the next day. I learned later, Frankie was supposed to be convoying out the next day to start his journey home. We were planning on trying to start a family….

I was on the phone with my friend Britnee, when my dad knocked on my bedroom door. I was still in my towel…and he said, “There are two Navy men here to talk to you.” His face was white. I said, “What for?” I had a mini melt down on the phone. I said…”I can’t go down there Britnee…They just don’t come to talk or visit.” Every possible scenario went through my mind. Is he hurt? Are they here to talk about the survey I filled out? I was not too happy with the IA scenario. Maybe they wanted to talk about that? We had reached the halfway point; maybe they were here just to check up with me? Think positive – he’s ok. Maybe he went on a convoy, and something happened to one of his limbs. This could not be real. I hurried and put on some sweats and a t-shirt.

I composed myself, went downstairs and the dress blues seemed to smack me in the face. I said, “Sorry for making you wait, I just got out of the shower.” I smiled, shook their hands, and introduced myself. They asked if there was anywhere we could sit. I looked at them, dead in the eyes, (I will never forget those eyes) and asked…”Is Frankie okay? Please tell me he is okay?” They did not answer. I backed away; leading them to the kitchen table…We did not sit. I had to know!! “Is Frankie okay?” Pleading now.

“Ma’am, the Secretary of Defense regrets to inform you”…"NO, NO!”…. “That Lieutenant Junior Grade”, “NO, NO, NO, NO" ...."Francis L. Toner IV"…"NO!!”… “Was killed today…” I heard nothing else “NO, NO, NO!! OH, my GOD! NO, NO…. But, you don’t understand…he can’t be….he’s superman. Not him! Not him! Oh God! Daddy!!! NO!"

My dad, sobbing himself, tries to hold me up…as I fall to the floor.

I compose myself after some time --- I apologize; I tell them “Thank you so much --- you have the worst job in the world right now." I hug them, and thank them again. They start crying.

My feelings were right; Frankie’s body came home the very next day –

I am dreading the day –
The worst day of our lives
A family knocked off its feet
A true love facing unbearable agony
A hero running and risking his life for others
A knock on my door
My worst nightmare coming true
Falling to the floor
My uncontrollable tears
Not him
Not him
Not him
Oh my God – not him

Please Lord; continue to give us the strength and peace to overcome.

Like Frankie, I turn to the Lord for peace with my life mission for whatever purpose the Lord has in store for me - I feel so blessed to be Frankie's wife.

What a beautiful purpose I have had so far.

Where can I turn for peace? Where is my solace
When other sources cease to make me whole?
When with a wounded heart, anger, or malice,
I draw myself apart, Searching my soul? …

He answers privately, Reaches my reaching
In my Gethsemane, Savior and Friend.
Gentle the peace he finds for my beseeching.
Constant he is and kind, Love without end.

“Where Can I Turn for Peace?” Hymns, no. 129



Life is eternal, and love is immortal,
And death is only a horizon;
and a horizon is nothing save the limit of our sight."
-Rossiter Worthington Raymond

Coming up on a year of Frankie's death is truly unbelievable. Beyond sad. I do not how else to explain it. The pain just gets worse and worse. I am trying to look to the horizon and imagining what it will be like when we are reunited. I feel him with me all the time and have been so blessed. I feel like all this time --- all these years that pass will seem so short in comparison to eternity. But, right now, it feels so long --- and right now my sight is limited with such a thick fog of grief, that the horizon feels so far. I miss my love; and am not looking forward to going into year two.

"Don't try to fight the sorrow you feel. The only way to take sorrow out of death is to take love out of life."

In a beautiful blue lagoon on a clear day, a fine sailing ship spreads its brilliant white canvas in a fresh morning breeze and sails out to the open sea. We watch her glide magnificently through the deep blue and gradually see her grow smaller and smaller as she nears the horizon. Finally, where the sea and sky meet, she slips silently from sight; and someone near me says, "There, she is gone."

Gone Where? Gone from sight --- that is all. She is still as large in mast and hull and sail, still just as able to bear her load. And we can be sure, that just as we say, "There, she is gone!" another says, "There, she comes!" (Eyre)

I await the day, my love, when you will be there to greet me when I cross the horizon, and I will hear you tell me that you love me. Thankfully, I always feel it. I miss you my love. I am so in love with you. I hope you can hear me when I tell you.

I Miss
I miss your kiss on my lips
I miss that touch you give me
I miss that smile on your face
I miss those nights holding you tight
But, most of all I miss saying I LOVE YOU.
-Frankie Toner IV


My Heart ---- 11 Months

Shattered Pieces
Fallen apart
Nothing left
But my broken heart
All the kings' horses
and all the kings' men
Have gone
They know to try is in vain
They know I must feel
All of this pain
Before I see you again.



Driving cross-country fell over Valentine's Day. My wonderful friend and I are in completely opposite, yet painful parts of our lives. it was difficult on Valentine's day for both of us. Yet, I was happy when Frankie supplied me with his usual string of heart clouds, which I have been blessed with on my hardest days. (I usually feel crazy when I see them, but somehow I know they are from him). It was his way of giving me a Valentine's card. :) That night I watched my favorite video of him. I save it for special occasions. I love hearing his voice and seeing his face and feeling like he is talking to me. But, on the other hand, I hate it. I hate that it is the only way physically for me to do that. I miss him. I love him.

Beyond words,

Beyond and above,

Are two souls who are intertwined

and attached at the heart,

Beyond description,

Beyond our lives,

Is eternal bliss

To sanctify our souls,

and bring us endless joy

Unconditional love here,

and Beyond is --- Us.



Today at Arlington ---

As I pulled up and parked at the cemetery today, the horses pulling the caisson rounded the corner, coming straight for me. I stared at them, and the men riding them. I made eye contact with each one. (The men, not the horses) :) With a little nod, and tears in my eyes…I could tell they all knew I was a widow. I always go to the cemetery after 3 p.m. to try and avoid hearing the gunshots, and seeing those horses pulling a casket, and hearing the bugler play Taps. It is too fresh. Too difficult. It brings me back to April 16, 2009, when I went to Arlington National Cemetery for the first time ever in my life --- Frankie talked about it, and the honor he held for it --- and now his body would be laid to rest there.

I remember every second, every feeling there that day.

I took a single white rose and laid it upon that silver shining metal, which I had to choose to enclose your body in. I looked to the sky before I set it down, thinking…why? Is this real? Is he really in here? Thinking how much I love this man, and I felt him shining down on me. I wanted to drape myself over your coffin, but I could barely touch it…thinking your lifeless body was actually inside. It has to be wrong…you aren’t in here. You are on some secret mission that they couldn’t tell me about. So I lay the rose down, that simple white rose --- Purity --- I know if anyone had reached their level of perfection on earth…it was you and your beautiful, pure soul. I walk back to my chair, and I crumble into my hands and sob, for a second…but then I hear others starting to cry harder around me….I have to be strong….I say out loud, "I’m Okay”...But I’m not….and never will be...Until we meet again.

I remember pulling away from the cemetery that horrible day…but I didn’t want to leave. I have one smile at Arlington in the pictures. But it isn’t a real one. The director of Frankie’s funeral kept telling me I had to leave because people were going to surround me to offer their sympathies. I was doing my pissed off, fake smile…like are you serious, man? I need to bury my husband. Give me a second.

But he had to get me and the family out of there as quickly as possible, so the crowd would disperse, so they could place Frankie in the ground. A part of me wanted to run out of the car, and stay until the last spec of dirt was placed atop of his coffin. All of me wanted to be under the ground with him.

I latched onto that flag like I haven’t anything before. Someone offered to hold it for me until I got to the hotel. I outright refused. This is his. He is mine. This flag is his blood. This flag is forever mine.
I still cannot believe this.

(P.S. Putting these images along with my thoughts was not an easy decision. I hope they stay only on my blog --- Thank you --- Love, B).


An Obvious Love

He could not be any more obvious.
I have been so blessed. On Friday, I was driving up to the North Shore. I stopped at a Shrimp Shack that Frankie and I loved, and then was planning on doing a beach day with a friend. Well, Mother Nature had a different idea. The dark clouds rolled in, and the rain came down. Not wanting to waste a good trip up to the North Shore, my friend mentioned a cool place that I had never been to and that has a beautiful view.
I should also mention, that I had shipped off Frankie’s truck this past Thursday, and left my favorite CD’s in the player. The night before heading up to the North Shore, I had to go buy CD’s, and tried to burn some songs onto it, to discover my disc drive was not functioning. So, I was not able to make a CD for the drive up there, and had to suffer through the same songs played on the radio.
All day, I kept saying, “I wish I had a good CD!”
The place we decided to visit is a sacred place for the Hawaiian people. It is an ancient religious site called a Heiau. The ground is usually surrounded with Lava rocks forming a circle, or rectangle. They are not to be entered, or climbed over, because it is said that it will disturb the spirits. And it will also cause bad luck for the person who dares to enter it.
Most people say not to be surprised if a sudden surge of energy is felt, or someone’s presence is around while visiting these Hawaiian sacred places. It is said to be a gift to feel it.
So, while visiting this Heiau, we could see a beautiful view, including some humpback whales. It was also cool imagining what it must have been like so long ago. After we had left the Heiau and were driving down the hill, we stopped and got some fresh Lilikoi (a type of passion fruit) that was lying on the ground in the trees that my friend had mentioned wanting earlier. Further down the road, she said…”Hey look, there is a CD!”
I was like, “No, way!” Laughing to ourselves, we backed up and picked it up off the ground and decided to see if there was anything good on it! :) I swear, it was just sitting there, in good condition and ready for us to come along and take it.
At first, it sounded like terrible elevator music, and I was like, “No wonder they threw it out!” Then I got to the third song, and decided to listen to it for some reason. It was beautiful --- seriously so good….and something I have never heard before. These are the lyrics:

I couldn’t go on living
In a world alone
Without the love you’re giving
I would turn to stone
I need you here by my side
Need for you to confide in me

Your love is right beside me
Whether right or wrong
Your are the Light that guides me
When the days grow long
I yearn for your sweet caress
Knowing that you’re the best for me

When they say that loves conquers all
I feel, Oh, so strong
Like an ending without a sum
Would it last too long
Talk about everlasting
Is it hard to do?
Is it too much I’m asking?
From a girl like you
I yearn for your sweet caress
Knowing that you’re the best for me

When they say that love conquers all
I feel, Oh, so strong
Like an ending without a sum
Would it last too long
Talk about everlasting
Is it hard to do?
Is it too much that I’m asking?
From a girl like you
I need you here by my side
Need for you to confide in me

While listening to the song, I was crying and smiling at the same time, overwhelmed with his love for me. And no, it is not too much that you’re asking. I am yours forever. I know you are still with me.

Somebody said to me last week --- you know Brooke…He is always with you. I saw how much love you two have and will have always. He is always there. I do know with a surety that death has not stopped anything. Death has not taken my husband away. His Death has not made me alone. And although, they call me a survivor --- I do not feel this way. Frankie has physically died, but I can tell you, he is very much alive. Life is eternal. Our Love is eternal. He is still right here. I am still Frankie’s main priority and eternal wife-a-nator. I know it. I know he wishes he could figure out how to set up Skype from the spirit world. But you know what I still have…even if I cannot hear him --- Spiritual Skype. I may not get to see him, but I can feel his spirit around me. I can feel his love now more than ever. I will dream and look forward to having our spirits back together when the gift of death is given to me. How sweet that day will be. How sweet life will be, knowing that Frankie will be guiding me, helping me, showing me the beauty that surrounds me; reminding me, that he is really there. It is not just a saying to me --- He truly will always be there for me, no matter what.
Frankie has made this very obvious. I am so in love with him and thankful that he gave me such a beautiful gift.
It was the only good song on the CD. Thank you my love and the Big Kahuna!
"Is death the last sleep? No - it is the last and final awakening" -Sir Walter Scott


3 years 5 months

Three years and five months. Frankie and I have been married for three years and five months today. I know most people celebrate the year marks, but every month on the 19th, I think of our wedding anniversary. Frankie and I always did something to celebrate it every month. He would always make it a special day, if even in the smallest of ways. One of the last texts I got from him was at 2 years and 7 months (Just 8 days before he was killed). It said “Happy 2 years 7 months baby! I love and miss you so much! Wish I could be there.”

Do you want to know what I did for our 3 year and 5 month anniversary? Probably not…but I am going to tell you. Today I set up moving all of our things from Hawaii to Idaho. Today I said the words Casualty Report too often. Today while going through paperwork, I found one titled “Disposition of Remains” that sent chills throughout my entire body.
Today I realized just how real all of this is. I am preparing myself to go to our storage unit in two days to assist the movers in moving our life together. All of his things are in there, besides his belongings from Afghanistan which came back in 14 black sea chests. His awards, his clothes, his sports gear, his pictures, his love notes from me, our lamps, our wedding album, our hopes, our dreams --- in a storage unit. Our life is in a storage unit.

I love you; I miss you and am even more in love with you at 3 years 5 months. I wish I could be there.
~I Miss You~
Somber days and nights
Looking for some truth
The day I thought would come
Never did
Leaving me here
To dwell among those who shall never know me like you.
I partake of nothing, of happiness, or peace.
My joy dissipated --- my heart left with you.
The lights have faded
My blue eyes now grey
I hate the way the world spins now
And continues on its way
I simply exist now
Just wandering through
This valley of grief, of circumstance ---
I prayed would never happen to a love so true.
My words will never adequately tell
How much I miss you.