We’ve had good friends visiting this week from Denver and I am actually laughing. I’ve had times since Jake’s death when I have experienced guilt and shame because I find myself smiling or laughing about something. I’ve felt as if I am dishonoring Jake somehow. I force myself to consciously remember that his love for life is the same as mine has been, and I would not want him to suppress that trait if he was the survivor. I can enjoy the day, but like I’ve said before, grief demands to be felt, so I laugh with my friends in the day and cry when I go to bed at night. That’s okay for now.

I found a Gold Star family facebook page where I can find and offer support and understanding to other survivors. Someone recently posted this, “Our son XXXX was KIA in the Afghanistan at the age of 21 almost three years ago, September 28th 2011. Since the fourth of July I have found out I have pancreatic and liver cancer. I went in to the University of XXXX last week and they cut me up but did not finish the operation as they found cancer in liver. I am not giving up hope but at the same time I Know I may have a lot shorter life than I thought. I have been doing a lot of thinking on how I can and should have lived my life better. When I look back on the last three years I wish I had not been as sad and enjoyed life more.” I don’t want to make this mistake.

A couple of nights ago, we were out at our new (almost ours) property, and I was thinking about how happy I am when I’m there. I guess it’s because I feel Jake’s presence. This land is a gift from him and it gives me joy knowing that it is meant for me to be happy while I am still here without him. I sometimes hear his voice telling me to be happy, to not feel guilty and that he is happy. So like my friend said in his facebook post, I will try my best to live my life better for Jake, and to find happiness, letting go of the guilt and shame that would make Jake so sad. Simple lessons take so long to learn when grieving.