Girls in car

Dear Jake,

I had such a fun weekend with your sister and your two nieces. They bring me so much joy, but at the same time, I am reminded that I will never have you and your family visit me here in Iowa. The house has been taken over with toys and cereal everywhere and non-stop action. You were supposed to have a family and I was supposed to have more grandkids. Now, I only have your sister and her two girls, and I am boy-less. I don’t know if your sister will have any more children. You might always be my only boy.

Your oldest niece is now five and in kindergarten. She realized that her younger sister (born while you were gone) will never have any memories of her uncle Jake. I told her that she’ll have to tell her baby sister all about you and how fun you were. She remembers her dates with you to Toys R Us and Chik-fil-a, and the time you took her to the movies to see “Frozen” just before you deployed. Jake, she talks about you every single day. I don’t think any of us will ever go a day without thinking of you.

Grandpa’s visit overlapped with the girls’ time here. It was fun for all of us to be together. Grandpa isn’t one to talk about you, and when I bring you up he changes the subject. In the beginning it made me upset that he wouldn’t join me in verbally remembering you, but I know he does remember and I think it’s just hard for him. I’m sure he never thought he’d ever bury one of his grandkids.

I’m still trying to keep myself busy. I’m working on my family history and helping others find their ancestors. I constantly think about you and wonder how many of ours that you have met. I wonder how you are helping in the afterlife. I know whatever you are doing, it is magnificent and I am so proud of you, Jake. You warm my heart every single day, and every day that same heart aches to see you, touch you and speak to you again.

I have a friend who is also a Gold Star Mother. She sent me a message that her 32 year-old son was just diagnosed with cancer and has only 6 months to live. My heart has been breaking for her. She will outlive two sons. I am trying to help her find an apartment so that she can stay with him until he leaves this world. There is always someone out there with a struggle greater than mine, and this gives me an opportunity to love and support her the best I can.

Our children aren’t supposed to leave us. Sometimes I shake my head and repeat, “I don’t understand” over and over again, but I think I do. It’s just too hard to accept. With all my heart, I love you, Jake. Please stay close to me so that I might feel your presence. This is one of my greatest desires.