It’s been weeks since I’ve written. Time seems to fly by because so much is going on. We’re choosing plans for building our house and finding contractors, I am busy training the dogs, I spend time at the nursing home, my church callings keep me busy, and now I am volunteering at the VA hospital. Today “Max the wonder dog” came with me and the vets loved him. I was chatting with an older man (in a wheelchair and missing a leg) about you and as tears came down his face, he said, “Those boys in the Middle East have it so much worse than we did in Vietnam”. He asked if I was getting the support I needed, and he seemed to be more concerned concerned about me than himself. There are still such good people in this world. So, my schedule is full. I know that keeping busy in general helps me with my grief, but I have learned that serving others is the best way to honor you, my boy with the big heart. I have figured out that my burden is lifted when I help others who have similar or even very different problems. The pain of losing you never leaves my heart, but others can ease the hurt by allowing me to serve them. I am so grateful I have figured this out.
I have lots of new relationships. I have met Gold Star mothers, new friends from church, and I love my 95 year-old friend in the nursing home. None of these people know you but they know about you. I sometimes feel that I talk about you too much and that it might drive people crazy, but I have to do it. Talking about you is how I keep you alive as an active part of my life.
You’re still being honored left and right. We leave for Colorado in a couple of days where you’ll be honored at the Denver Nuggets game, and as soon as we return, we’ll be taking a road trip here in Iowa to be presented with a quilt by “Freedom Quilts”. Friends have been visiting your grave for me, and even another Gold Star mom in Colorado (whom I’ve never met) brought you flowers because her son is buried at the same cemetery. You are not forgotten and never will be. Too many love you to let that happen.
There’s an organization creating a bible for us, and within the bible they bind stories and pictures of you. I have spent so much time almost harassing people to write their stories about you. It’s too hard for your dad to share, but most everyone else in the family shared, as well as friends you grew up with and several of the soldiers you were deployed with. Reading each makes me cry because I miss you so much, but more because of the way you influenced others for good and because you are so loved. I have learned that God needs the good ones, because I have seen this trend as I’ve met other Gold Star families and learned of their children. Jake, I am so happy that you are one of the chosen, even if it brings me heart-wrenching pain. Your goodness continually makes me want to be a better person and I thank you for that. You will always be the bright light in my life, and even though I can’t see you, your presence cannot be eliminated; not even by death.
I am always missing you, but I am trying to make the world a little bit better for those around me as a gift to you. I hope you know how hard I’m trying. I love you my precious boy.