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
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