This has been a rough week. Last Shabbat Dodi got a phone call that one of our former students, one of his football players had died. We of course, were shocked! We knew Darryn was in the military and were quite proud of his service and the wonderful young man he'd become. But to find he'd died?! He's not much more than a kid....how in the world could he be dead? And what of his family??? Oh, heavens. This is horrible. They just lost their only daughter a few years ago to a rare (and fast acting) cancer. Now one of the twins?! Sigh. Heavy heart.....and tons of prayers for the family and all the friends of this young man.
When I wrote my last post, the one about 9-11, these things were heavy on my heart. I knew then that Darryn was on his way home for burial...I also knew he had married and had a young son. My heart was breaking for them. Then the details started coming out. WOW! To think we'd known him when he was still a wet behind the neck kid....sometimes a bit squirrely, always going full blast, but a good kid. Well, I digress....let me continue.
Friday morning, as I'm preparing homemade applesauce and roasted chicken for Shabbat dinner, we get a phone call. It's the neighbor letting us know Darryn's motorcade is going to be coming up the street in a few minutes...Little Critter and I drop everything, grab our shoes and the US flag off the front porch and run out back to help the school welcome Darryn home. This weekend was home coming. And now one of our own was coming home....on 9-11....in a casket. The irony of the situation did not pass me by.
If you look (very carefully I'm afraid) just even with the police car is the tip of another flag...that's Little Critter and I. Did cha find us? Oh well. Little Critter (who never knew Darryn, but knows Darryn's father) was proudly standing at Boy Scout attention holding our flag against his belly and smartly saluting the motorcade. I turned my head so he wouldn't see my tears....my baby was growing up....and another Mom, one I know personally, would never see her baby again. sigh.
The Patriot Guard flanked the hearse and then followed it with about 15-20 motorcycles, flags waving proudly in the wind. Cars from local police, sheriff, and constables were in the motorcade...and then the family. My heart just broke for them. And then swelled with pride as the students and parents lining the street silently raised their index fingers (like in 'we're number 1). This is a tradition that occurs each time the School song is played. And these kids, most of whom were too young to even know Darryn, were standing there giving him a home coming welcome....with tears running down their young faces.
Friday afternoon, we went to the viewing....saw many of our friends there. Met his wife, pregnant with their daughter who's arrival is expected in time for Christmas. Did you hear that? That was my heart breaking a little more for the baby girl that will never meet her father....and the two year old son who will soon have no memories of the fun he had with his daddy. Gulp.
Shabbat we went to the funeral. It was a beautiful service (if you can say that about funerals of young people...) and during the service, one of the military commanders told the crowd that Darryn had died a hero. He was riding in a humvee when they took gun fire, he saw an IED coming at the humvee and shoved three other soldiers to the floor of the vehicle. They all survived....but Darryn took the full hit. CRACK. Now my heart was broken into a million pieces. Here we'd had a true blue, real life hero in our midst years ago and never even knew it! An example for Little Critter of the words of Yeshua come to life...."No one has greater love than a person who lays down his life for his friends" (Yochanan (John)15:13). It made the Shabbath service later this evening more bittersweet. As we sang the songs and listened to an incredibly timely teaching, I couldn't help but remember another mother....one I know and one I've only read about. Both of whom lost their sons early in life....both of whom freely and gracefully gave their best for the betterment of mankind. I am humbled. My role as a mother is more clearly defined.....I have lots of work to do, but my job is made easier by those who've gone before me, giving me real examples of real heroes for Little Critter to emulate.
Papa, thank you for determining that even when it's a time to mourn, You would supply opportunities to rejoice at the same time. Rejoice in the life of a young man who heard your voice, followed it all the way to Your Gates and set an example of valor for those that follow him. Please bless Darryn's family and his friends. Hold them close to Your heart and comfort them as only You can do. Todah Abba. Shalom, spitfire