On April 10, 2011 my phone rang with an unfamiliar number. Thinking it was my husband Jamie, I answered the phone quickly.
But the voice on the other end didn’t sound anything like my husband. The voice was cold and direct as he asked to speak with Melissa Jarboe. My body grew weak as the voice introduced himself as a soldier from 1st Infantry division, Fort Riley, Kan.
“Ma’am, I’m going to read this script verbatim. I do not have any answers to your questions. On the 10th day of April 2011 4th cavalry/ 4th regiment Able troop was on patrol in the Zhari District of Afghanistan when Able troop took enemy fire. SGT Jamie Darrell Jarboe was wounded by enemy fire as a casualty. My name is John Doe (name changed for privacy). Please write down this number for further information.”
Suddenly the idea of knowing this may happen to us or seeing it happen on television and in news reports became a reality.
Jamie was flown first to Kandahar Hospital for the first of seven surgeries. Within 36 hours he was flown to Landstuhl pending transfer to the states. Since the bullet had shredded his spinal cord, they had to get him to the states to get the spinal leak under control. He made it to Walter Reed April 12, 2011 at 5:30 p.m.
Each day I sat next to husband who could not eat, drink, talk, or breathe on his own. He was paralyzed from the chest down. I was able to give him the empowerment through me, to become his voice and protector.
As the sun set one night, Jamie’s mother and father got ready to go back to the hotel. I stayed next to his bed in a cold metal chair for hours, rubbing Jamie's head and massaging his hands until I fell asleep.
When the nurse came in and asked if I would like something more comfortable, I told her I didn’t want to be an inconvenience but anything would be an improvement. She brought in a recliner, but before I moved from Jamie’s bedside he opened his eyes and made a noise with his tongue to get my attention. He whispered, “Where are you going?”
I said, “I’m going to the left side of your bed to a recliner to get some sleep. Is that alright?”
He shook his head yes. I told him if he needed me, to make that noise again and I would wake up. As I stood up and stretched, Jamie made this chipmunk noise with his tongue and shook his head no.
I told him, “Babe, I’m tired. I need to take a quick nap so I can take care of you tomorrow.” He moved his lips and said, “I can’t see you when you are on the other side.”
As I lay next to Jamie once again on his hospital bed, I asked him if he wants to let me go. He shook his head yes. I started to cry once more at the thought of losing my Jamie, and he shook his head no.
I told him that I love him so much and he shook his head yes.
I asked him if he knew how much everyone is going to miss him and he shook his head yes.
I told him that I remembered everything he told me to do and I will promise to do it, he shook his head yes.
Then after I kissed his lips I said, " I know you struggled more than humanly possible. I'm sorry for being so greedy and keeping you here because I don’t want to let you go."
He shook his head "no," and I gave him one last kiss.The private care nurse said she already made the call to the doctor and at 9:25 a.m., March 21, 2012 my husband took his last and final breath.
When people hear our story, I want them to hear the true meaning of Sacrifice and Love. The day Jamie was shot he laid on the sand and remembered the promise he made to come home to the girls and I.
He fought through everything just to be able to see us once again he said. He gave up everything not only for his family but for his country --just as many other service members do daily.
Even on his death bed as he laid there he never once had a regret of volunteering to serve his country, he told me, "I would take that bullet again, I would serve my country, because I believe in it and I love everything about America."
In the end I look back and I realized even in the midst of chaos and our life falling apart, never once did we as a military family fall apart, we united and triumphed, learning, living and loving -- every day that we could.