As families were gathering on Easter Sunday, Brandy James, a lecturer
and Co-Director of the First Year Writing Program for the Department
of English, said goodbye to her husband, David. That was the last
time she and their daughter, one-year-old Sarah Grace, saw him.
received his orders on Sarah's first birthday. A Sergeant in the 314th
Chemical Company of the Army Reserves, he was to leave for Iraq within
months and help find supposed chemical weapons. "Needless to say,"
Brandy recounts, "that put a damper on the day."
Her only contact with him since he left has been by phone (He usually
calls once a week unless he's out on missions.) and "snail" mail,
which takes about two weeks. "One of the hardest parts about him being
over there," she explains, "is not being able to share special events
with him like birthdays, anniversaries, Christmas, and not being able
to come home every afternoon and share the details of our days with
each other." While he battles soaring temperatures that can reach
140 degrees and faces the dangers associated with his job, she juggles
work and raising their daughter without him. "All of the day-to-day
responsibilities that you're used to sharing with someone else suddenly
fall on you. That's sometimes difficult," she explains, then quickly
adds, "Well, it's always difficult but some days I just deal with
it better than others."
The couple met in 1996 at the scene of an automobile accident. Brandy
and a friend were the first to arrive on the scene and promptly called
911. They covered the victim, who had gone into shock, with a blanket
and waited with him until help arrived. David, a medic for West Georgia
Ambulance in his civilian life, and his unit responded to the call.
A few days later, David called Brandy to let her know that
her blanket was at the ambulance station. When she went to pick it
up, they were formally introduced. David and Brandy married two years
later and on February 6, 2002, their daughter was born.
When Brandy first found out that David was being sent to Baghdad,
she immediately thought about Sarah and everything that David would
miss-all of the new things that she does everyday-during the time
that he was gone. "That's still what I think about," she explains.
"I video, take pictures, but it's still not the same." She also worries
about how his absence will affect his and Sarah's relationship. "Sarah
and I have created a very strong bond," she reflects, "because it's
often just the two of us. But I worry about the new bond that she
and David are going to have to create when he comes back because they'll
have to get to know each other again."
Brandy is not sure when that day will come saying, "He was supposed
to return by Christmas of this year but now it looks like it won't
be until April." Perhaps this Easter will find the family reunited.
David, Brandy, and Daughter Sarah Grace; Bottom: David with Iraqi
--Susan R. Rooks