As I anticipated this trip, I had much anxiety. I knew this would be the last formal celebration of your life and the sacrifice you made. “Then what?” is all that ran through my mind. I realized my anxiety is simply fear that you will be forgotten, but so many have made it clear that you will never be forgotten.

Another worry was the contention that was created immediately after your death. I always thought it would get better with time, but it has only gotten worse as my efforts have not been accepted and lies have been told to turn others against me. I now realize that there are some things I cannot fix for you. Maybe one year of trying is good enough, because I believe that both you and God know that I have tried my best to do what is right. Maybe you’re doing just fine regardless of the disappointments here on Earth. That is my prayer.

The Memorial Day ceremony at the Army base was beautiful. This is how I got picked up at the airport. It made me laugh and cry at the same time. What awesome brothers you have!

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The ceremony was good, even in the pouring rain. I could hear more family behind me crying as the names of Ft Carson’s seven fallen were read. It’s so hard. It was yet another time to see your name in stone, and that is not easy for a parent. I always thought you would be putting my name in stone.

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The ceremony gave me a great opportunity to meet the other Gold Star families and make a connection. Somehow it feels better to be with those who understand. I hate that they were there too, but I also love and appreciate that they were there. That might make little sense to those who have not experienced it.

I have been in contact with another Gold Star Mom, Debbie since she lost her boy to an IED. Her son was the next casualty after you. He was only 19 years old and from California. I finally got to meet her and it was wonderful. She’s an incredible woman; so loving and kind. A strong Christian and a great example.

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My favorite part of the day was when we were brought back to the building where you worked. They had a surprise for us. They dedicated a conference room to you and said that as long as this building stands, this will always be your conference room. I hope you know how loved you are. It blows me away at times.

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Of course I went out with the guys in the evening, and I realized just how old I am! This was a special time for me to hear stories about you. They all shared something that they’ll never forget. For the medic, it was that you taught him to play catch so he could play with his baby boy when he gets older. For others, it was the big heart you have, because you were always willing to share anything you had. I heard about the way you made everyone smile all the time, how you were the one to raise the spirits and keep morale high and how easy it was for you to laugh at yourself. As these men shared their stories, they did so with huge smiles on their faces. Jake, you are so loved and appreciated. These are the very things I miss about you too. One of the best parts of me disappeared when I lost you, and I am trying to figure out how to be happy in a world without your joy. It’s taking some time, but I will get there. The Lord brings me peace and comfort. Without my beliefs, I’m not sure I would have survived this.

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I learned that you and Richard had plans to attend a Colorado Rockies game together as soon as you got home, so your sister and I took him to the game for you! Coors field is a tough place to be without you, Jake. Remember how we always said that it’s the real “Happiest Place on Earth”? We took Richard to dinner at our favorite restaurant and he order your favorite dish, and then we made him eat a Rocky Dog in your honor.  We had a great time, but you were so missed! I love you forever, my wonderful son.

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