Let's just say that the month of June was a roller-coaster ride that I am just now recovering from (hence, my blogging hiatus, again). It started off well, with half-day Fridays at work, a lovely 2-year anniversary dinner at Restaurant Nora, and a much-needed trip to Table Rock Lake, but then it quickly became exhausting. The day after we returned from our trip to St. Louis and Table Rock, Chris got a call about the loss of a friend. Not just any friend though, a friend who was also a soldier killed in action while defending our country.
That week was really rough. I'm sure I was in a daze - not only was I not sleeping well, but my mind was constantly racing with thoughts that oftentimes left me on the verge of tears. Even the thought of going to two baseball games, one of which was my beloved Cards, did not really cheer me up. Going to the games only gave me a slight reprieve from the thoughts that continued to play across my mind. I knew our friend had died doing his job, and what he loved, but I was heartbroken for his family - his amazing wife, and precious son.
At the end of the month, we traveled back to Kansas City for our friend's funeral. I know it might sound odd to say that a funeral changed my life, but I don't know if there are any other words to describe how that weekend affected me. Actually, it wasn't necessarily even the funeral that changed my life, but the experiences I had over those few days... Witnessing the Patriot Guard escort and honor someone who had fallen risking his life for us, changed my life. Observing grown-men in uniform who, on any other day, would be stoic and intimidating, break down in sheer sorrow at the loss of a friend and a brother, changed my life. Watching people in stopped cars put their hands over their hearts as the procession passed for a soldier that they did not even know, changed my life. Winding through the streets of Ft. Leavenworth lined with hundreds of military personnel and civilians saluting, standing at attention, and holding American flags thanking him and his family for their sacrifice, changed my life. Seeing his wife grieve all the while still being the best mom to a precious little boy, changed my life.
These people became my inspiration - the people who took time out of their day, even just for a minute, to honor someone they've never met who died protecting our freedoms... the people who risk their lives every day defending the ideals of America and making our lives safer.... and, most importantly, my inspiration comes from his wife, and others like her, who sacrificed any semblance of a normal family life for the sake of our country with the utmost humility and strength.
Experiencing a soldier's life being mourned by his family and friends was, and still is, gut-wrenching. Experiencing a soldier's life and sacrifice being celebrated by his family and friends was, and still is, inspirational and life-changing.
Please remember that while we are all tucked away in our homes, complaining about a bad day at work or how hot is, there are thousands of men and women fighting abroad for our freedoms and many families at home separated from their loved ones all so that we can continue to go about our normal lives in the comfort of our own homes.
And, remember that life is short - sometimes shorter than you or anyone else wants.