December 13, 2012

Do Good - for Rich and Daren

After Daren was killed one of the first calls his parents made was to Pat and Mary Donahue. The Donahue's live in Wisconsin and have been good friends of the Hidalgo Family long before I came in to the picture. They are wonderfully kind and loving people. Mary's son Rich was best friends with Miles' older brother Jared. Over the years I've heard so many stories about shenanigans Rich and Jared were involved in and things they did together. They even signed up for the Marines together only Rich enlisted and served in the 24th Marine Regiment, a reserve unit out of Wisconsin and Jared would later get commissioned as a Marine officer after graduating college. I remember hearing a story about how Rich would give Jared a hard time about wanting to be an officer and told him he'd never salute him. Jared was commissioned in December of 2005, a year prior on December 13, 2004 - his best friend Rich was killed in Iraq.

It's almost hard to imagine - that two families who had already been close would go on to both lose a son in the war on terror, and understand each others pain and grief in such an intimate way - a way you hope that no one would ever understand. But I've learned over the years that this world really isn't as big as we think. Far too often are we connected not only by happiness or circumstance, but by tragedy and pain. And those connections are often times some of the most beautiful and enduring connections we form in our life.

I'd like to share the tribute video that was made for Rich. It's similar to the one that was created for Daren. Please take a few minutes to watch it and say a prayer or send a loving thought to Rich's family - who not only grieve for the son and brother they miss and the eight years they have been without him, but who celebrate the life he had and impact he left:


Last week I tried to donate blood. I have been wanting to donate for a long time but I knew I'd have to wait a year after coming back from Afghanistan, but by that point, I was pregnant with Cale and you can't donate while pregnant. Then I was pregnant with Finn and never found a good time after he was born to go donate. So it was on my "to do" list before getting pregnant again. I got pregnant for the third time sooner than I expected, but after my miscarriage I decided that I could, and should, finally go donate. So last week I had a friend watch Finn and I went to the blood bank that is on Fort Hood - I wanted this particular one because all the blood donated goes directly to Soldiers or their family members. When I got there I saw a sign that said they needed platelets in my blood type so I asked about donating those. I filled out the paperwork and met with a girl who reviewed everything. Because of the baby aspirin I take daily, I was prevented from donating platelets (can't take aspirin for 72 hours prior to donating), so I asked if I could at least give blood. One of the questions you have to answer is if you've ever been pregnant. The girl looking over my paperwork asked when my last pregnancy was. I told her I had a miscarriage and gave her the date of my D&E. She awkwardly wrote this down, never bothering to pause and say "I'm sorry" or God forbid anything compassionate, and continued to review the rest of my questions. She then left to go check about me donating blood and came back and told me I'd have to wait - that it had only been six weeks from my miscarriage and it has to be over six weeks. My eyes starting to get teary - from frustration with not being able to donate when I've been looking forward to it for so long, and for the smack in the face reminder that the reason why was because I had a miscarriage too recently. Another nurse asked me if I was ok (she seemed confused as to why I was upset, not sympathetic as to why I might be) and I just hurried out of there so I could get in my car and call my sister and cry. It just sucks - when you want to do something good and you can't.

Anyway, the reason I shared all that is to just encourage anyone who reads this, who is able, to go donate blood. You could save three lives. THREE. I should have found the time earlier, but will try again soon. I'm motivated by stories like that of Nick Vogt, an Army Lieutenant who received 500 units of blood - the most of any casualty survivor.  I'm so thankful that he was able to be saved by the donations of others. I wish the circumstances were different and that Rich and Daren could have been saved. I wish they were here with us now, but they aren't, so it's especially important that we go out and do good for others . . .for them, because of them. It doesn't have to be by donating blood either, but it's the holidays and there is no better time than now to just go out and do a little bit of good for others.



  1. I've never been able to donate because I lived in Italy in the 80s, it's very frustrating. I had no idea that you couldn't after miscarriage, though. I'm so sorry that you had to deal with that cruel reminder and nurses who didn't seem to care or know how to respond. I am glad that you have a wonderful support system like the Donahues and the baby loss community who do understand, though, and who can appreciate all the good you do for others whether or not it involves giving blood.

  2. They won't let me donate either because of my cervical cancer (because they don't know what the situation is with it being blood-related... um, yes). Anyway, I'm proud of you for trying- after they told me I couldn't ever donate again I cried and was angry, and then I decided I was okay with it after a while. All this to say you are so lovely for trying. xox

    Richard seems like he was a really great guy, and I love that Daren said he'd never salut him- ha!

  3. I hate that you had such an experience at the blood bank. If it's not hard enough grieving from the loss, then to deal with people like that. They really should be taught some bedside manners.

    Thank you for sharing about Rich -- sounds like a great guy! I will be thinking about his family today.

  4. It's great that you can use your blog to not only keep Daren's memory alive, but Rich as well. Thank you for sharing Rich's story with us today and making sure that eight years later he and his sacrifice are not forgotten. You've also reminded me that as I make a list of 2013 goals that I want to add donating blood regularly to that list. It's also awesome that after everything you have done for our country that you care so deeply when you can't give more. :) Thank you for such a meaningful post today.

  5. This is such a beautiful post, Caroline. I am so sorry that the folks at Hood's blood bank were such morons. Wish I could give you a hug. Thank you for sharing these stories, though -- they bring me back to earth and provide some unique perspective that makes me more aware, compassionate, and eager to do good.

  6. It was a great honor to watch Rich's video. I'm so terribly sad that his family will forever miss him, but undoubtedly touched many lives.

  7. Ugh yes this world is not as small as we sometimes think. I went in to donate in Addison's name and because we had already started trying for Mason they wouldn't let me donate either and I felt like it was a slap in the face that it was ANOTHER thing I wasn't able to do for her. That lady was a bitch for showing no compassion to you. I'm so sorry it's these seemingly little things that really bite. Someday I hope to donate too. In fact I may try again soon so thanks for the reminder <3