I have spent days praying that the coroner would deem Jake viewable. Since we have no details of the crash, we didn’t know the condition of his body. I just knew I needed to see him and touch him one last time so I prayed all day every single day. I needed to spend just a little more time with Jake. After 2 days in Colorado, we received word that we could see him again! His wife made a firm decision to have Jake’s casket closed for all but family so I agreed. Looking back, I really wish I would have discussed this decision. Jake looked so handsome in his uniform, peacefully lying in the casket. I’ve seen the dead before but this was so different.  This was my child, my boy, my baby. I never thought I’d be looking at the lifeless body of my boy who had more life than anyone I know.

After you arrived in Colorado, Jake we followed your car from the airstrip to the funeral home. We were put in a room because they “needed to inspect you”. After a short time, they brought me in for inspection. I was not allowed to bring anyone with me because you had designated me to be the PAD (I think it means the person authorized to make decisions). “Inspection”? What a strange word at a time like this.

I knew your hair would look wrong. I had given you every haircut your entire life until you joined the military, and you always said they could never get it right. I couldn’t cut it, but I could bring some hairspray to style it the best I could. I know it sounds silly but being able to do this one last thing for you was so important to me. I knew you wouldn’t look like you but fixing your hair might help. They opened the door and I had to consciously try not to run to you. I had already missed you so much while you were in training and then deployed. I already bought my plane tickets for your homecoming and couldn’t wait to finally see you again. We had so many plans. But, there you lay, so lifeless, yet so beautiful in your dress blues with your new medals. Oh Jake, I am so proud of you; so proud of the decisions you made even though it got us to this point.

Every birthday since the day you were born I kissed you between the eyebrows, and for most of those birthdays you resisted. This is where you received your first kiss at birth and this is where you received your last. I fixed your hair, identified you as my son, signed the paper and left you until tomorrow.

I’ve told you, “I love you” countless times and today, I just couldn’t stop repeating those words in your presence. I find peace in knowing one thing for certain; when you were alive, you never wondered about my love for you, and you died knowing that my love was completely unconditional. I lost you with no regrets. What a wonderful blessing to know that I did this one thing really well. No mother loved her boy more than I loved you and you knew it, didn’t you?