From page 18 (as of April 9, 2005) of the online guestbook for the Maine Army National Guards Headquarters of the 133rd Engineer Battalion, a Heavy Combat Unit:
To: My HSC friends
“Thank you for being true friends to my Baby, Chris, by being good friends to me. I don’t think I’ve ever been or I’ll ever be surrounded by so much darkness as I am now. Thank you for lighting up a candle in my heart with your caring messages. I am sure that, if my Baby can see us from his far away home, he would have a big, thankful smile on his lips; the same healing smile most of you saw on his face every day; the same smile that became “contagious”… Love and peace, Lavinia Gelineau”
It is, perhaps, one of the most tragic stories I’ve read in relation to the ongoing war in Iraq.
Lavinia Gelineau was the young widow of Sgt. Christopher D. Gelineau, the 100th person killed in combat, on April 20, 2004. Sergeant Gelineau died at age 23.
His wife became an outspoken opponent of the war. Her grief was palpable, and seemed unending.
From an article posted online at CBS4, New Hampshire News:
“…She stood next to widows at the graves of soldiers who had gone to Iraq to fight with her husband a young Romanian woman who lost her one true love and became the face of a grieving homeland in the aftermath.
Lavinia Gelineau attended those funerals always clutching a bright pink teddy bear her husband had given her on Valentine’s Day before he deployed. She cried and could have blended in among the black-clad mourners. But her intense brown eyes hinted at the intensely personal reason for coming: Their agony was hers…”
Eighteen days shy of the one-year anniversary of Sgt. Gelineau’s death, on April 2, 2005, his wife Lavinia was found dead.
“…(P)olice ‘have a very good idea of what went on inside the house.’ However, (Police) declined to reveal details until the state Medical Examiner’s Office determines the cause of death(…) It was her last day at work and her friends were holding a party for her. They were concerned when she did not show up, said Westbrook Police Chief Paul J. McCarthy…”
The war widow wrote poems for her fallen soldier, and others like him. At the blog fondofelves.com, the blogger posted a poem by Lavinia on July 4, 2004:
To the 133rd and all other deployed soldiers with lots of love
They wear Kevlar vests and carry M16’s…
It’s not a dream they’re dreaming & they must make a stand;
Some kiss their wives good-bye, some barely seventeen
Haven’t yet walked the aisle or held a girlfriend’s hand.
And they must board the bus… The bugle plays a song,
“You’re in the army now.” The driver beeps the horn…
“I love you, Babe, forever. I won’t be gone for long!”
Their tears freeze, their babies cry when from their arms they’re torn …
Fists clenched, eyes closed, they take their seats real’ slow;
“God bless you and please write a letter when you can,”
A young wife sobs. “I’ll be back home before you know,”
Her green-eyed Cutie smiles, “And then, we’ll live again.”
- Lavinia Gelineau, wife of SPC Chris Gelineau.
For almost a year she spoke out. She spoke in lyrics, she spoke with silent tears by gravesides.
On April 1, 2005, Lavinia Gelineau was murdered by her own father, Nicolae Onitiu, age 51.
The following is taken from an article posted at Yahoo News on April 8, 2005, titled Widow’s Slaying Symbolizes Grief of War:
“… Police have said Gelineau’s parents had a history of domestic violence in her native Romania, and Gelineau had voiced concerns about her safety to friends before she agreed to allow her father, Nicolae Onitiu, 51, to visit her new home.
Investigators are unsure what sent Onitiu into a murderous rage and plan additional interviews before closing the case.
Gelineau told friends he was prone to angry outbursts and had once tried committing suicide, but she hoped he had changed. Her mother, who was in the United States staying with her daughter, was still afraid and left for Vermont when she learned her husband was visiting Portland…”
There really aren’t words to do this story justice. There is no justice in this story.
She mourned her husband ceaselessly…and she hoped that her father “had changed.”
But once a man is truly hollow, he can’t be filled again.
T.S. Eliot’s “The Hollow Men”, part 3, written in 1925:
This is the dead land
This is cactus land
Here the stone images
Are raised, here they receive
The supplication of a dead man’s hand
Under the twinkle of a fading star.
Is it like this
In death’s other kingdom
At the hour when we are
Trembling with tenderness
Lips that would kiss
Form prayers to broken stone.
(This blog entry is also posted at my ‘true crime’ blog, The Dark Side.)