Wednesday, February 24, 2010

In Honor of Joshua's Uncle Eric

Today marks year two of Joshua's uncle Eric's death.

You may wonder why I chose to break away from my normal theme of writing about our loss of Joshua.

To begin with, Eric is the baby of our large family of eight siblings (we lost our baby sister, Maria, in a house fire before Eric's birth). He was so close in age to our first two children, that he grew up with them. Joshua heard the stories of Uncle Eric, and he knew of his loving kindness. Of Uncle Eric's pranks.

Joshua met Uncle Eric only a few times. We lived in different states, and Eric joined the Army at age twenty when Joshua was six. Josh was proud of Uncle Eric when he went off to Iran (as shown in photo on the left) and fought on the front lines in a tanker. Together, Joshua and I tied yellow ribbons around the Eucalyptus trees in our driveway. Together, we prayed for Uncle Eric to come home safe. Together we enjoyed Eric when he came a year later for a long visit.

As Joshua grew into a strong young teenager, he favored Uncle Eric in every way. In physical appearance (he had hands like Uncle Eric), but mostly in his mental outlook and mannerisms. Above all, they had the same soft spoken tone of voice. They both loved a good prank.

The night of Joshua's memorial service, Eric called me from Iraq where he was on his third tour of duty. Our siblings and their spouses and our dad were at my house. We couldn't talk long, because everyone needed to leave. I could hear the ache in my brother's voice as he told me he loved me, wished he could be there.

In November of 2007, Eric suffered a flashback from the wars and wrecked his car. Life for Eric slid down hill, resulting in his death on March 24, 2008 (photo on right taken weeks before his death). How he left us? He was in training sessions, having flown from Texas where he was stationed to Stockton, California. Eric's mind broke for the last time. He was marching as though in war and a truck hit him on a highway after midnight.

Twelve hours before he died, Eric had another car wreck during a flashback. The highway patrol sized up the situation perfectly (they noticed Eric wore the Army uniform and drove the Army vehicle) and suspected Eric's problem. In the hospital, doctors and nurses suspected, too, that he suffered from flashbacks. Eric was acting and talking irrational, but then he'd have lucid moments. After being held in the hospital for almost twelve hours, Eric escaped like a prisoner of war and met with death.

Later, the autopsy report showed no drugs in his system, except for his doctor prescribed anxiety medication.

Eric Neal Martinho is a fallen soldier, who had weeks before received his Bachelor of Arts degree. A hard worker, who loved his family and his friends. As they say, a regular stand up gentleman.

I pray today that my family and Eric's friends' suffering grows less. That we all remember our love and our memories of Uncle Eric: husband, father, sibling, and son.

Until next time . . . keep praying, for God stands with us even in the darkest hours.

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