Red Friday – August 26th 2011

I have never been able to look at this photo without feeling my heart sink into my stomach. Maybe it is because I’m a Military wife and she is living my fear. Maybe it is because I am human and life is precious. . .no matter who you are or what your job is. You can’t take it for granted. 


Excerpt from: The Rocky Mountain News

By Todd Heisler

Katherine Cathey was expecting a phone call from her husband, Marine 2nd. Lt. Jim Cathey, so she could tell him if their baby would be a boy or a girl. Instead, she got a knock at the door

— the knock every military family dreads. When his body finally arrived at the airport in the Marine’s hometown of Reno, Katherine never wanted to leave his side. ‘You take for granted the last night you spend with them,‘ she said. ‘I think I took it for granted. This was the last night I’ll have to sleep next to him.’ She said about her all night vigil by Jim’s casket the night before his burial.


The night before the burial of her husband’s body, Katherine Cathey refused to leave the casket, asking to sleep next to his body for the last time. The Marines made a bed for her, tucking in the sheets below the flag. Before she fell asleep, she opened her laptop computer and played songs that reminded her of ‘Cat,’ and one of the Marines asked if she wanted them to continue standing watch as she slept. “I think it would be kind of nice if you kept doing it,” she said. “I think that’s what he would have wanted.”

8 thoughts on “Red Friday – August 26th 2011

  1. She is living my greatest fear as well. There are times (even after being a miltiary spouse for 13 years) that I clean the house because I got a “weird” feeling that something was wrong… and prayed for the men to not show up at my door. I think through the scenario of what would I do, how would I handle it. To my civilian friends that sounds morbid and horrible, but I think for military families… it is normal and a way of life. Thank you for posting this photo, it is a wonderful reminder to be thankful for what we have and that the little things that get us down in life really don’t matter.

  2. Thank you for your reply Marie. It’s been both touching and reassuring to hear how swiftly the other Navy wives and the few men still on base banded together to help my sister-in-law and the other women whose husbands are out to sea. They’ve been married for just over a year, having done an impromptu ceremony when he got his first set of orders so she and her boys could be added to them and moved from Arkansas to Connecticut. He was assigned to a brand new boat so they’ve been blessed to enjoy the entire first year of their marriage deployment free and the boat only went out a couple of weeks ago. She was able to find out everything she needed to know about storm prep, I guess through FRG or ombuds; someone put up the storm shutters for her and a hotel room would be paid if she had to evacuate… she was worried about getting her homework finished in the event of evacuation, God love her!

  3. Erin, it is wonderful to hear that you are looking out for your sister-in-law. I promise that she and her little ones are in good hands. She can go to the Navy Marine Corps Relief Society if she needs money for travel-lodging while the storm comes through. Not many new couples know it’s available. If the office has closed, all she has to do is call the Red Cross and the funds will be issued just the same. And your Brother is in one of the safest places during a Hurricane! 🙂 I’ve been in her shoes…My husband has had to go out with the Sub, leaving the kids and I to find a safe haven from storms on our own. It’s only scary if you are not used to it, sadly it can become “routine” on the east coast! I hope your sister in law didn’t stress too much and was able to make arrangements. Let me know if you have any questions for her! I’d be happy to help. With the story above, hurricanes seem like a walk in the park. You are right…there are no words.

  4. My brother is Navy with a pregnant wife at home right now. Praise the Lord the worst he is facing at the moment is ducking under a hurricane in a sub. The hurricane is projected to hit the base where his wife and toddlers are right now and we’ve only just finished making sure they’d be taken care of in the event of weather. This picture… this story… I can’t even begin to comprehend. There are no words.

  5. oh my goodness. This is truly heartwrenching. And my greatest fear as well. I know it’s not just me, but it’s nice to read that someone else thinks about these things (losing their spouse because of their job) on a daily basis. My heart and prayers go out to her.

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