My sweet Jake,

Some days I cry and some days I don’t, but I always miss you and I always hope and pray that you are happy. It’s interesting how God places people in our lives when we need them, and if we aren’t paying attention I think we miss it.

My friendship with this sweet 95 year-old man has become one of the highlights of  my week. We pick him up for church and I visit him a couple of times during the week. He never married and has no children, so he is literally alone. I think losing you and moving to a new state at the same time has made me more aware of loneliness, and allows me to see it more easily in others; a new ability I think. I do all of the normal things, like worry about him, bring him treats, share my adventures and sometimes read with him. He recently got a new roommate named Bob who is an Army veteran and cannot speak. When I saw his “Veteran” sign, I asked him if he was in the Army and he smiled and nodded. I told him all about you and a tear rolled down his cheek as he listened to me describe what a hero you are. He has a photo button of you in uniform on a bulletin board right by his head so he can see you every day. I can tell he loves it by his expression. He too warms my heart and allows me to shine the love I have for you on him.

On Saturday, several of the moms I’ve gotten to know are starting a new Gold Star Mom chapter in Iowa. I guess there hasn’t been one here since 1949. Other than service, nothing brings me more comfort than other Gold Star parents. Just being around them brings a peace that I cannot articulate. I hate that any of us belong to this group, but at the same time I am so grateful that we are here for one another.

Today I was finger-printed at the VA Hospital as part of a back-ground check. I’ll be volunteering in any way I can to help your brothers and sisters. I have been in touch with the 14 that were wounded in the helicopter crash with you. It’s quite incredibl;e that you were the only death. Your lieutenant is still an inpatient after more than 8 months and another just had surgery on both knees again yesterday! My heart breaks for these men because they are tied to you and I know how much you loved them. If I can love any of them back, I will. Max will sometimes go with me to the hospital when a therapy dog is needed. He has a little camo vest. You would love it! I think he’ll enjoy spending time with the vets and I pray he’ll bring them some comfort and healing. He’s such a good boy!

I am so grateful for these opportunities to love others and the way it benefits my own healing. I am certain we’re meant to love one another through this difficult life, and I have learned that service benefits the giver more than the recipient. I already know you know this. I know how big your heart is and I am more proud of you as each day passes. I am learning the truth to “only the good die young”. You are truly a good soul. I love you so much, Jake and every day I dream of the day I will see your beautiful face again!