Ryann Roukey, 39, is the widow of Sergeant Lawrence Roukey, who was killed in Iraq on April 26, 2004 after having been there for only six weeks. Ryann and Lawrence met at the Bahama Beach Club in Portland, Maine, where Lawrence worked as a bouncer. Ryann was immediately drawn to his muscular stature. I just felt like he would be my protector, my strength, said Ryann. They were married in August of 1996, making a three-person family of Ryann, her young daughter, Sonya, cq, and Lawrence. The family moved around New England pursuing different jobs and finally landed outside of Portland in Westbrook, Maine.
Ryann and Lawrence sat in their living room watching the television on the morning of September 11, 2001 when he said, If we go to war, I want to go. I want to be able to serve my country. Lawrence, who had just signed up for the Army Reserves in August, was called up to serve in Iraq in late 2003. Ryann said, He was fired-up and was ready. He was going to go do his job. It never ever crossed my mind that he would never come home. Lawrence called Ryann from Iraq on Wednesdays and Sundays and never gave the impression of distress or alarm. The Sunday before he died, though, he did mention that the situation around them was deteriorating, but assured her that he would call after their planned mission.
Ryann described Monday, April 26 as a typical day, though she did note the news of a large explosion with US casualties in Iraq. She returned home in the evening from grocery shopping to find a blue government van in her driveway. From that moment, her life took on a quality of unreality, she said. It was like I had stepped into somebody else's nightmare.
Thousands turned out for Larry's funeral, and person after person assured Ryann that she had help if she ever needed it. A year and a half later, though, Ryann wonders what all those promises meant and if she is indeed forgotten. She is again a single mother; only this time she has a four-year-old son, a sixteen-year-old daughter, three dogs and a cat. Ryann misses having the extra hands. I took for granted that [Larry] would go out and mow the yard while I was doing dishes. Now I go out and mow the yard and do the dishes. And do laundry and watch the kids and go to soccer games. Or take Nicholas to pre-school now. It's everything. She repeated again and again that she never though she'd be a single parent again. I don't have that extra set of hands anymore, she said.
For Ryann, the fact that the US casualty count in Iraq is topping 2000 holds no specific significance, nor does she foresee the war ending soon.
Ryann now takes life one day at a time. I've got now the rest of my life by myself with two kids
Kids need that routine. They need stability. But yet how do I get that in my life again? Does my life ever feel like it's ever going to get back on again? Am I ever going to find another true love that I had with Larry? ...He was my true love. He was my hero. I don't have that hero anymore.