I have had some rough patches the last couple of days. I’ve been a little angry about the accident still. I want your death to make sense, but the Army offers so little. I have medals, a little life insurance money and a carefully folded flag, but no answers and no son. I keep thinking about the pilots who were flying. I’m told it was “pilot error”. They were both severely wounded. I was told one had a broken neck and one had a broken spine and that they were flown to Germany and that’s the last anyone has heard. I have the name for one and only the last name for the other. One of your buddies said, “I hope they’re dead for what they did”, but don’t worry, I chastised him lovingly as you would expect. I keep putting myself in the place of those poor pilots. Even putting aside their injuries, they know you were killed and I’m sure that has to be tormenting them. I want to find them and assure them that they are forgiven. I don’t want them to have that burden on their shoulders.

I keep thinking about the time you were “jumped” from behind by that kid you knew from church and high school? You were upset, but didn’t want to file charges. You wanted to show him forgiveness. I learned something from you during that time. I was so angry at him for doing something so unfair and for hurting you, but you so quickly forgave him. I remember seeing the two of you coming out of the bishop’s office shaking hands and you were smiling. Jake, you have always had a gift for forgiveness, so I want to find the pilots and do exactly what you would do. I want to do it for them but also for you. You were such an example to me in that way and I know the Lord gave you that gift to teach the rest of us. Ray said that you didn’t have a mean bone in your body. You never knew an enemy and I admire and love that about you.

I met with another Gold Star mom for lunch today. We sat for three hours and talked. Her son’s death date is only 3 days before yours but three years ago. Her son had been in the Air Force for 9 years, so he was a bit older and she said she was used to him being gone. I hadn’t even had time to get used to you being in the military, let alone being away. I don’t know if it’s any harder or easier on any of us, just different, but it is nice to know I am not alone and there are others who can assure me I’m not going crazy. She visited the Middle East Conflicts Wall Memorial in Marseilles, Illinois and your name is already there. She took a picture and also used a pencil to scratch a copy for me. It made me cry. I’m so proud of the selfless man you grew to become, but at the same time, it’s just more “stuff” that can never replace the void in my life. I don’t need them to memorialize you because you will never be forgotten. You could never be forgotten.

I’ve noticed that the times I feel a little angry, I feel further from my Father in Heaven. It’s not just something we learn in Sunday school. It’s real. I know I need to trust Him, Jake. I know I need to remember that you are doing great; without worries, fears or pains of this world. I need to be grateful every single day for the almost 22 years I had with you. Why was it so much easier in the beginning? Was it because I was a bit more numb and in shock than I am now? Is it because I expected to be further along in the grieving process by now? I don’t know. I need to change something but I’m not always sure what it is I need to change.

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