When you spend hours pulling weeds, hauling mulch and raking stuff you have a lot of time to think. And a lot of my thinking this weekend has been about a new truck safety friend I met while in Washington two weeks ago. I guess it’s been a combination of a lot of things that have me thinking of her.
Saturday I drove by a funeral home while they were lining up for the processional to the cemetery. What caught my attention was the real funky looking hearse; the front looked like a 1920’s car, the back, where the casket would ride, was all glass. I took a second look and saw that the parking lot was full of motorcycles and riders. Sadly it must have been a motorcycle enthusiast that died. I wanted to stop and take pictures but knew they deserved privacy in their grief. My new friend’s husband was killed by a semi while riding his motorcycle to work. She rides too.
It’s Memorial Day weekend and her husband was military, as are others in her family. She’s missing him mightily this weekend. He was killed a year ago last April and I think this year the reality is sinking in. I have been reading her Facebook comments and wishing I could offer more comfort. On this weekend when everywhere she looks flags are flying, soldiers are being honored, families are gathering, she is feeling alone. It shouldn’t be this way. Her husband should be here. He should be receiving thanks for his service. They should be celebrating. War isn’t the only way to lose soldiers. Sometimes bad things happen right here at home. I hope she can feel the love we all hold for those who serve to keep us free. I hope she can feel the respect we have for her and families like hers. Mostly, I hope that in time she will learn how to live in her new normal. But for now I hope she knows we’re right here. We can’t make it all better. But we can help make it bearable.
I know she’s coming down from the high we sometimes experience at the Sorrow to Strength conference. She spoke at our news conference; she was strong and articulate. She did it for the love of her husband and for all those lost in crashes with semis. She was amazing. I heard Mariah Carey on the radio Friday evening as the weekend began and thought of my friend instantly and how she spoke so eloquently of her loss in front of the news cameras. The song seemed to say it all.
“So when you feel like hope is gone
Look inside you and be strong
And you’ll finally see the truth
That a hero lies in you.”
She is a hero, yet I know that now, far away from the hugs and support of other member of the truck safety group, she likely wonders what there is left to do, how to make it better. How to make it bearable. I would tell her to take baby steps. To accept and even embrace the nation’s thanks is one small step.
A funeral procession, a song, a holiday weekend has all kept my friend on my mind. I think I’ll give her a call today. If you know a military family make the time to say thank you. And please think about my friend — she can use all the thoughts and prayers you can send.
Hugs to all of you. Stay safe.