As I type this, funeral services for a 21 year old Marine from my area, who was killed a week and a half ago in the Middle East, are underway. Obviously, this is not something unique to the area in which I live, as all regions of this country have dealt with this kind of loss over the last several years. When it happens in your area, it is all you see and hear from the local news outlets, and as a result, it's impossible to not think about the loss of that human life.
I have spent a considerable amount of time in the car this week, which has given my brain ample opportunity to run. Although I know many people who know this young man's family, I do not know them personally. Nonetheless, I have thought about his parents and entire family quite a bit. There is a heavy tradition of USMC service in this young man's family, but he is the family's first ever casualty. I keep thinking about how awful this must be for the entire family. I keep thinking about the spotlight that the family suddenly finds themselves in. I think about the 81 mile procession to bring his body from the airport to the funeral home. I think about the unnecessary stress and angst added to today's services by the local representation from the West.boro Bap.tist Chu.rch. I think about the coming weeks and months and wonder what they will be like for this family. Will people still be there to offer support or will the channels of support suddenly grow very dim as people around resume their normal routines?
I think about what this family has done and lost. They sent their son off to war, as many families across this country have done, with the understanding that he might not return. The understanding that he might not return. While this must certainly be every military parent's fear, so many of them never truly expect to be the ones to someday walk in these shoes. They will forever mourn the person that they have known, loved and lost. They will mourn what was unfairly taken away from them. Perhaps they will also mourn the things that he will never do or experience, as they are things that they will never experience with him...college, marriage, children.
I can't help but think about this in relation to my own grief. There is certainly no comparison. Ultimately, when it is all boiled down, I am angry because something was unfairly taken away from me and I mourn the things that we will never experience with our daughter. Ultimately, that is all I have to mourn...a lifetime of lost love and experiences. In losing that lifetime of love and experiences, sometimes I feel like I have lost such a huge portion of my world...and then I look around at what others have lost. While it doesn't minimize my loss or make me feel better, it certainly helps me to keep things in perspective and remember a few things. It helps me to remember that grief is unique to every person and circumstance, and no matter how much I am suffering and grieving, there are always people out there whose loss will strike them in even more profound ways than losing Gracie has struck me. It helps me to remember that, even though nothing will ever replace Gracie, there is still much hope for our family to find and experience with Gracie's siblings the things that we will never experience with her.
I wish much love and support for this young man's family in the coming weeks and months. I pray that they are able to find peace, strength and healing as they begin this long journey.