Five Years On – Remembering and Honoring Chris

As we approach the 5 year anniversary of losing Chris in Afghanistan, I am drawn to words that other people use to describe the members of my family.  ‘How did you do it?’ – which is really a rhetorical question.  Most people really do not want to know the details.  The details are difficult stories and stories of love and friendship.  Yet it is those details that help us survive.

My details are the man of faith and integrity I knew Chris to be.  He was a loving husband and caring friend.  He would want us to care about those around us and help those less fortunate.  The fact that he would not want me to ‘sit on my a$$ forever.’  (Yes – he really did say that to his sister – just in a very loving brotherly way).  Details are his quick smile, his deep friendships, and his love of life. Details are the lost dreams and hopes.

The loss of a child is a unique loss as it is an event that is out of the natural order. One day you are dreaming of what is to come and next day you are wondering how you will survive. We all hope to outlive our children but sometimes the answers we get to our prayers are different from what we wanted.

We survive because resilience is built into our beliefs. Our faith offers us a God who walks before us to clear the path and behind us to watch our backs and beside us to be our friend.  And on those very dark days, He carries us. The days of carrying us are now fewer but they still unexpectedly come up.

What does the future hold?  We just do not know. So we persevere to go forward.   We still have many of our hopes and dreams.  Blessed with the great choices our kids made, we are blessed with family relationships as well as friendships that make our lives far richer than any ‘things’.

Personally, I am continuing to challenge myself with triathlons and finding new and better ways to give back – veteran needs, Gold Star family members like us, student character programs and community outreach. We are blessed with so much in our nation.  My challenge is how can I help just one person today?

This is my next physical challenge in June – th Islandman Tri to support the Travis Manion Foundation – Thank you for your support in advance

Team Travis & Brendan at Islandman Tri in Avalon

To Chris – Custodite et Protegite Nos – Watch Over and Protect Us – I wear it on my shoulder every day.

My hope today is no different than it would have been if you were here.  I hope I make you proud to be my son and my friend.  Love you, Dad

Showing our kids the way to get things done?!?!

Alert – A bit of a political rave.
 
I find NYT’s Kristoff enlightening and oft times on point (remember I lean conservative). However, today, while promoting mockery of Trump, he seemingly does not get the thin line between mocking Trump and having it carry over to bullying the populace who might have voted against HRC and for DT and a major change in DC.
Do we really want people making decisions because they afraid being mocked? I would like to believe all our representatives are full of integrity and are not swayed by outside influence but I see actions that oppose this view(money, unions, PACs, fake news, etc). Wish I felt most of them were more worried about the people of this nation rather than any single special interest that throws money their way.  Would it not be better to help find ways to inform them of the alternatives and have them gain insight into the best decision for our nation?
If this works for DT (which I do not think it will, well just think how we can apply to anyone who does not think like we think and do what we want.  Is that the way we want our democratic republic to work?
 
Oh, it is not the ‘democratic left’ and ‘conservative right’, it is the liberal left. Remember – Bernie is on the left and is not democratic. We can be democratic but not a Democrat.
Sorry but just sad at where we have gotten to in our political discourse and what seems to be acceptable – on both sides of aisle.

What do you stand (up) for?

Have to admit that I am frustrated by the level of discourse in the American media – both conservative and liberal alike.  Everyone seems to want to take one of the poles rather than find a way to understand each other and figure how to make it all work. People keep asking me my opinion on the Kahns, the election, and now Colin Kapernik. Not sure I have any good answers.

OK, Colin Kapernik sat down during the National Anthem as a protest.  He did not beat his wife or kill someone or rob someone or even do performance enhancing drugs.  He demonstrated his right as an American for peaceful protest.  Personally, I wish he felt differently but he is expressing his view of his American experience – not what you think his view and actions should be.  Land of the free – this means you have a right to your beliefs within the law.

However, I wish instead he stood up for something.  Has he used those millions to start a legal fund to help those who he deems as disenfranchised?  Has he gone to the inner cities and started businesses to bring employment there back?

He is not someone I look at and see a role model as I do not know his character from his actions – and it would be wrong for me to judge him based on this singular event.  I am more likely to look at Tim Tebow, who was skewered in the media for his on field actions but we should note that for every one time he bowed on the field, he spent more time giving back in the community.

Friends of mine, Frank and Donna Masley, have great character. When they started their business, they picked a spot that was easy to reach in the city of Wilmington.  They give back in the city too.  They are the American answer to how to fix things – be involved, provide opportunity, bring hope to an area that was down on its luck.

So, rather than sitting on the bench during the national anthem or on your couch at the end of the day (as I often do),

What or who do you stand up for?  Do you fight cancer?  Do you provide support for families of the fallen?  Do you tutor or mentor at risk students?  Do you provide training for people coming out of prison?  Do you make meals for the homeless?  Do you give a ride to someone in need?

Now, with that out of the way, I would like to ask for your help in helping me stand up for something I believe in.

This link will take you to a donation page for the Travis Manion 9/11 Heroes Run.  I will be running in West Chester PA on September 11.  All donations go to programs which support surviving family members of fallen heroes, school programs in Leadership and Character Does Matter, and veteran programs to help them re-enter the work force after their service to our country.

John Mosko’s Fundraiser Page for Travis Manion Foundation’s 9/11 Heroes Run – West Chester

Just ask  – “If not me, then who? ” Travis Manion

 

Random Acts of Kindness in Honor of Chris

Many of you will be thinking of Chris, Brandon, and Dick on 26 April, the day they were killed in Afghanistan.  Reg and Sean from EODMU3 as well as David and Patrick – SEALS will also come to mind (http://goo.gl/hnL59z)

I would ask that you pick up a couple a $5 gift cards for a lunch or a snack for a needy person or even drop off a bag of groceries at your local food bank.  If you can do that, I would be grateful.  Ideally, drop a card in briefly explaining the sacrifice of these young men – or just give it in honor of all fallen warriors.

Thanks so much and have a blessed week.

Facing a crazy week

Sitting here reflecting on the numbers 4, 35, and 60.  4 is painful and associated with grief.  35 is associated with the beginning of the greatest adventure, love and friendship of my life.  60 is just a number – associated with another trip around the sun.

And what have I learned?

4 – on April 26, we will relive a bitter, painful day when we received the news that Chris had been killed in Afghanistan along with Dick Lee and Brandon Eggleston.

  1. The love of that child does not change. I talk about him because, while I know I will keep his memory alive, I want other to know he lived, and loved, and sacrificed, and cared.  I like to hear about him from others.  Maybe selfish, but it helps me connect to the little bits I might have learned from him over a beer or sitting on a beach together.  And sorry if I make you uncomfortable but it is important to me.
  2. Grief is an extension of love. As with the love of your child, the grief is forever – – no ‘moving on’ or ‘pain will fade with time.’  I am faced with daily visions of what he would be, what his family would look like, how they would be part of us in the future.  How can I not grieve that?  We are blest that we are close to Amanda and she shares her life with us and we love her all the more for that.
  3. You can never fill the hole – so do not try to help me do that. We are blessed with friends and family who still cry with us and laugh with us when we talk about Chris.  I have Nate, my son-in-law, who ‘gets it.’  He is a strong man of faith, a core part of our family, and perfect for Meredith.  Not sure I would have ‘got it’ at 32.
  4. I did not ask to be a member of this club but I have met some great people who do great things because they were inducted too. In the face of loss, it is amazing to see people who step up and find a way to change the world – one step at a time.  Grief as an extension of love provides a powerful force doing good for others.

So, April 26 will still have that empty chair at the table and my birthday and our anniversary will be hard because Chris is gone.

60 – So three days later, on April 29, I will move into the next decade of life.   I cannot count the number of people who have blessed my life – Gayle, Meredith, Chris, Nate, Amanda, Jeremy, Paul, Kim, Larry, Jennifer and her family, Lynne and her family, Michael and his family, teachers, friends, colleagues, coworkers, pastors, etc.

  1. Each person is unique and adds color and fullness to your life – – – and you are not guaranteed to ever see them again.  Cherish each moment.
  2. My faith was nurtured as a child, strengthened as an adult, and occasionally tested. My God did not change, I did.
  3. It is just a number – key is what did you do with it. Do not live with regrets.

“So it is: we are not given a short life but we make it short, and we are not ill-supplied but wasteful of it… Life is long if you know how to use it.” Seneca

35 – fabulous, wonderful, challenging, love-filled years.  May 2 will mark our 35th wedding anniversary.  Would I do it all again with Gayle?  You betcha (that is from our years in Eau Claire, WI).

  1. Perfect is for crazy people – and maybe we are crazy and I know we work like crazy to make it as perfect as possible
  2. I tend to be a loner but what a lonely journey this would have been without Gayle.
  3. Not sure of the number we will get to add but look forward to every one of them.

And that is the week we will have from 26 April to 2 May.

Bring it on!