On Memorial Day weekend, the Intramuralist salutes our veterans and those in active duty.
I’d like to say the rest of us are empathetic. I’m not sure that’s actually true.
You are brave.
You choose sacrifice.
You know loss.
When those 3 aspects are combined, most of the rest of us pale in comparison…
The bravest person I know is my 8 year old son. Having survived a life-threatening illness as an infant — in addition to the repair of a congenital heart defect — he continues to know no bounds and uniquely encourages the multitudes, not allowing his disability to equate to a limitation. He both humbles and amazes me.
The person I know who has most willingly chosen sacrifice is one of my dear college roommates, Sara. Sara is a determined Air Force Academy graduate who had ample, excellent opportunities awaiting. She and her husband have instead chosen to raise their family — and live their entire adult lives — ministering to a needy, Asian people group, void of authentic hope. Sara’s greatest goal is to love the people there well, even though her extended family (and most modern conveniences) remain thousands of miles away.
In regard to knowing loss, let me sympathetically submit that I have sadly known many who have known gut-wrenching grief — those who have lost spouses, those who have lost children, those who have lost a friend or family member who have meant the absolute world to them. I cannot imagine the depth of the heartache. Yet amidst the agony, I’m uncertain whether any compare to those who have witnessed multiple peers perish beside them. At any given moment, the thought has to go through your head, “that could have been me.” To see that loss… to experience that loss… to actually feel that loss… I would think it would significantly impact your view of the world, your grasp of reality, and your level of gratitude.
For this Memorial Day weekend, the primary activity of the Intramuralist household is competitive baseball for our older 2 boys. Today, in fact, in my role as an assistant coach, I watched our middle son’s team struggle through what they deemed a painful loss. A few handled their despair somewhat less than maturely.
With my son in the car on our prolonged drive home, I asked why the drastic change of his countenance. “I hate to lose,” he muttered. For an 11 year old boy, I understand. I also understand these young men don’t comprehend real loss.
“Son, perhaps it’s time to instead talk about gratitude,” I smiled subtly.
To those who are brave, who have willingly chosen sacrifice, and who know loss like no other, thank you.
Thanks for teaching us well. A blessed Memorial Day to you… to your families, too.
(Originally published on Memorial Day weekend 2010. My boys are now 15, 13, & 10. P.S. They still aren’t all that fond of loss.)