'The Time In Between' – A Gold Star Mom Remembers Her Son

May 27, 2019

Scoti Domeij at her interview with Story Corps
Credit Story Corps

Memorial Day is a time to honor and remember military service members who lost their lives in the line of duty. Army Sergeant First Class Kristoffer Domeij was killed in Afghanistan in 2011 on his 14th deployment. As part of the Story Corps Military Voices Initiative, his mother, Scoti Domeij tells his story. 

On her son:

My son was Sergeant First Class Kristoffer Domeij and he died 17 days after his 29th birthday. He was a very active child and a beautiful little boy and very much a leader from the day he was born.

He was an Army Ranger and he was killed on his 14th deployment. And my son is the most deployed soldier in American history to be killed in action.

On the night she learned her son had been killed:

The night I received the knock on the door, I heard a knock and I looked out and it looked like it was a cop and I thought, "What is a cop doing here? I haven't done anything." And so they just kept knocking. It scared me.

"Within a month after your kid is killed, everybody wants you to be who you were. And you'll never be that person again."

The minute I opened the door, you know, the two guys in uniform... I knew exactly why they were there, and I just looked, and I said, "Is my son dead?" and they just said, "May we come in ma'am?" And then they gave me the news.

After they told me, I said to them, "You know, I've been a single mom, I've been to hell and back. You can leave now." They said, "We can't leave until someone comes to be with you."

So I called my best friend and I just said Kristoffer was killed. Bam. She and her husband were there. The worst call I ever had to make in my life was [to] Kristoffer's younger brother Kyle.

On the grieving process:

It blows up your whole life, your whole brain. One study said that you are only operating on 15 percent of your emotional margin, but within a month after your kid is killed, everybody wants you to be who you were. And you'll never be that person again.

So I'm on year seven [in 2018]. At about year five, I felt like I could think again. But I can't multitask. I have to hyper focus to get anything done and if I have stress in my life that's it. Because there's still that stress of processing--my son is dead.

On the last time she spoke with her son:

"It was the first deployment I didn't feel nervous about. I wasn't anxious...I was just like totally in peace about it, so it was really a shock."

It was by Skype, and I'll never forget his face. He just looked like this innocent young man. And we just had a really great conversation, and interestingly enough, it was the first deployment I didn't feel nervous about. I wasn't anxious, and actually he was on that, the deployment he was killed, because somebody else had broken their leg and my daughter-in-law had a really bad feeling about it. I didn't, I was just like totally in peace about it, so it was really a shock.

But I will tell you when I met the young man who broke his leg, I was very thankful he was my Ranger escort for my first Memorial Day when the Army flew me back to Fort Bragg. I really wanted to talk to him—I don't want him to carry any survivor guilt, which he did.

I don't believe death is in our hands. I do believe that God, He decides the day we're born and we die. The time in between is ours to do with whatever we want to do with it.

This conversation was recorded in 2018 in Colorado Springs as part of the Story Corps: Military Voices Initiative. The audio was edited by 91.5 KRCC's Jake Brownell from its original form for time purposes and clarity.

Scoti Domeij says she plans to head to Normandy, France, in June 2019 to honor her son by jumping from a plane with Kristoffer's fellow Army Rangers as part of the 75th anniversary of D-Day.