Due to injuries sustained from an Improvised Explosive Device (IED).
We start feeling weighed down about a week before this holiday weekend arrives.
Grew so much. Looking at him made grown Marines who had been in battle with his dad cry. They had to turn away.
Family that we don't see but once or twice a year who love us as if no time has passed.
Ice cream cones that come with a kiss and two cheerios for eyes.
Marines. Semper Fidelis.
We remember the call.
Ceremony. Short and bittersweet. Lots of hugs.
Few but big tears.
21 Gun Salute, it still makes me jump.
Visiting his grave site to remember. To take a moment to be silent and remember.
The aching and longing from my child because he wishes he knew more about his dad; wishes he had had more time with his father.
9 months of attempted rehabilitation...to no avail.
Standing tall while not feeling tall inside. Fearful of what others think of me because of decisions I've made to move our lives in a different direction (away from what they're used to or know).
Seeing people who helped us and being able to thank them for all they've done to help us through a very challenging time.
Remembering the criticism and judgment from the media.
I still own the dress that I wore to the funeral. A size 0. (Not bragging)
The bell that rings after they name each fallen Wisconsin Marine.
Having my son hold my hand as I cry.
Me putting my arm around him when he became silent and observant of the reality of the ceremony.
Respecting the meaning of the flag and the meaning of "ultimate sacrifice" on this holiday.
Considering the sacrifice of Jesus and being even more in awe of God's perfect love for all of us.
Him picking up the empty shells from the 21 Gun Salute.
Marines committing to helping him learn about his dad as a Marine.
Going to the parade and watching some people get it; others, not so much.
Hurt in micro-moments considering how few people remember.
Grateful to be the parent of this kid. Thinking I've done a pretty good job so far.
Tired of holding back this part of my life as if it doesn't exist to make others feel comfortable.
Ready to finally put up our own American Flag. There will be a ceremony!
Asking "why us" less.
Seeing my son worn out because of the emotion that is starting to stay with him after these weekends.
The encouragement felt when you are with those who understand your loss, even if for only a few hours.
It is time to reach out and stop grieving alone.
Did I mention the hugs?
Having the Major personally check in to ensure that we are alright.
Accepting my reality. I was widowed at 33.
Wishing there was more I could do for this boy.
Knowing that God has a perfect plan.
Roselawn Cemetery. Monona, Wisconsin.
I am so thankful to have this little boy in my daily life and to be able to watch him grow. Chad, would be so proud of him. I am.
Visit Freedom Remembered for a brief history of our American hero.