Gold Star widow's blog recounts life after loss of soldier husband
BY JERRY WOFFORD World Staff Writer
Saturday, October 13, 2012
10/13/12 at 7:00 AM
Visit her blog: Read Jane Horton’s chronicle of life since her husband’s death.
It took 33 days for Jane Horton to bury her husband, Chris.
Spc. Chris Horton of Collinsville was a sniper in the 45th Infantry Brigade Combat Team who was killed in Afghanistan on Sept. 9, 2011. After the transfer of his body back to America, the funeral in a downtown Tulsa church and transit of his body to Arlington National Cemetery, the burial didn't happen until a year ago Friday.
It was 33 days of stress and emotion, but a time she doesn't want to forget.
Jane Horton has recorded her intimate thoughts in a blog she started to chronicle that difficult time, the year since her husband's death and what happens to Gold Star families - the term for families of military personnel killed in action - once the fervent attention begins to fade.
"I decided to write it so people will know more about what we go through after the knock on the door," Jane Horton said.
The idea for the blog started during the summer when people would talk to her about her husband but seemed to say the wrong things to her. They were trying to provide comfort, but the words didn't help. Writing the blog was a way to help people understand how she has lived since she got the news so they can understand her life now.
The first story about her husband's return shares in detail about when the soldiers came to her door to tell her that her life would be forever changed and how her family helped her in getting to Delaware and coping with the news.
"What many don't want to remember, I don't want to forget," Jane Horton wrote.
A year later, she said the memories of that day are still fresh, but it's the memories of their young life together that she wants to keep, she said.
A common refrain she hears from people is that she will "move on" or "get past it," she said. While they may have the best of intentions, Jane Horton said she doesn't want to move on.
"I understand - I'm not trying to say they're horrible," Jane Horton said. "They don't know what to say or what to do. I'm trying to help them a little by being so open."
When Chris Horton died, support for Jane Horton was everywhere. But after a year, the phone calls from friends are less frequent. Fewer hours of the day are spent thinking about Chris than before.
"I've always heard the second year is the hardest," Jane Horton said about what advice she got from other Gold Star families. "We don't have much support anymore."
When Chris Horton died, the separation was stark and harsh, she said. Moving on from that is more about keeping his memory and passion going.
Jane and Chris Horton's story is getting some attention on a national stage now. GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney has told part of their stories at several of his campaign stops in recent days. Chris Horton worked on the Romney campaign in 2007 and was passionate about his work, Jane Horton said.
"He thought (Romney) was a great man and would be a great president," Jane Horton said. "I can't tell you how much that would mean to him" that Romney is telling his story.
And keeping that story in view is what she said she hopes the blog will help to accomplish as she goes past the one-year anniversary. It will help her remember her husband and their life while sharing her experience, which is similar to what other Gold Star families in Oklahoma and across the nation experience.
"It doesn't go away for us," Jane Horton said. "It's not the fresh pain, but it's still very raw."
Original Print Headline: Keeping the memories
Jerry Wofford 918-581-8310
Jane Horton sits with mementos of her late husband, U.S. Army Spc. Christopher Horton, at her home in Collinsville on Thursday. Friday marked the one-year anniversary of the soldier's burial at Arlington National Cemetery. MATT BARNARD/Tulsa World
U.S. Army Spc. Christopher Horton: A sniper in the 45th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, he was killed in Afghanistan on Sept. 9, 2011
Jane Horton of Collinsville says when her husband, U.S. Army Spc. Christopher Horton, died the separation was stark and harsh and moving on from that is more about keeping his memory and passion going. MATT BARNARD/Tulsa World