A couple of days ago, when I was at the park throwing the ball for Max, a rugby team arrived and began setting up for practice. In all my years of taking my Border Collies for their daily fetches, I have never seen this game, rare in these parts of the world, played. At first I panicked thinking that the familiar reminder of the sport that Jake played and loved would be too much for me, but as I heard the young men laughing, teasing and commenting on one another’s plays I began to smile. I found myself not wanting to leave as the playful banter brought back wonderful memories of Jake and his buddies relentlessly laughing at one another’s expense. It happened in the baseball dugout, at the rugby field, and I have no doubt it happened everyday he spent in the Army.

Ever since Jake was a small child, he valued his friends. These boys seemed to bring him a happiness that he found nowhere else. He was a “man’s man” so it wasn’t surprising that he chose a line of work that involved spending time with guys who would quickly become his brothers.

The last conversation I had with him was after I had read an article about why soldiers want to return to war after they come home. It seems that the camaraderie and the trust they have in one another cannot easily be found in civilian life. They value protecting one another and create a bond through this. I thought this might be a problem for Jake, so I encouraged him to choose a career that involved something similar. Jake thought he might come home and become a fire fighter which would have been perfect, allowing him this need he had spent so many years developing from the boys he played with as a child to the brave men he served with. Although there will be no Earthly future for my son, it makes me smile and sometimes cry imagining this future for him. Is it possible to be proud of him for something he simply thought about and never had the chance to achieve?

Jake, How I wanted to see you continue growing. I looked forward to watching you have a family and achieve so many more wonderful things. Your successes brought an abundance of happiness to me. I am so proud of everything you chose to do with your life, past, present and future. I believe in you and know that whatever you’re busy doing now, you are doing with diligence, hard work and success. I will again someday witness your achievements and continue being the proud mother I have always been.