I am having a hard time blogging this week. My body is being a little difficult and my heart and head keep taking me to the Gates of Heaven. My nephew should be 28 in a few days, would be if he had continued to live here and grow old with us. He didn’t though, he answered the call of duty, joined the Army, fought bravely, and died along with four of his buddies in Iraq.
Grief is a teacher that never stops teaching. I have watched as it has torn at the very fabric of our family, stretching the threads so tight that at times I feared one or more of us would rip at the seams. Death requires you to dig deep into your soul, this kind of work is hard and painful. It requires you to break open and become incredibly raw and vulnerable. You have to find ways to stitch together a life where pain, grief, joy, love, and hope are all able to live together. Where those stitches, never fully heal and something as beautiful as a rainbow pulls at them, making them bleed just a little. But it also means that a rainbow is no longer just a rainbow but an I love you from Heaven. You look for miracles and signs in places you never imagined.
It also means that you try to honor the things that were important to the person who has died. Seth’s relationship with his brothers was important to him. Upon his return from war Seth was going to go with his brother Nate and get a tattoo that said, Totus Virium, it means Undivided Strength. It was important to him and Nate. It breaks my heart that they were never able to share that memory. Nate could have gone and done it by himself but my sister raised amazing men, so Nate invited Eric to be a part of his first tattoo and asked his uncle to get it too. Even in his own grief this amazing young man thought of others. So in the middle of all the planning and pain Nate and his Uncle Eric went and got the tattoo together. It bonded them in a way that words cannot express. Our son Joe, got the same tattoo on the day he turned 18. I think Seth would feel honored and happy to know they all have the tattoo. That he is never forgotten and they carry him with them always.
Why haven’t we all crumbled and shattered?
We may want to, there are even days we think we will but at the end of the day we know that together we are strong. It is only together, undivided that we will heal and grow. It is together that we will tell Seth’s story, it is how we stitch up the pieces of our broken hearts.
My husband gave our nephews eulogy and he said Seth lived according to these things.
Seth lived every second of his 19 years, he didn’t waste one second. When he made a decision, he went all in. He was brave and fearless. Seth loved the people in his life deeply and made sure they knew that. He took the time to spend time with the people he loved, while doing things that he loved. Man, could that boy hug! His hugs were so tight! The last time I saw him before he left for Iraq someone snapped a picture of him giving me a hug. There are no words for what this picture means to me.
People ask why I do what I do?
Seth is my why. I know what it is like to have your world crash down, to have your faith crumble into the sea. I know what it is like to have to rebuild your faith. I know life never looks the same but I also know that Life is Beautiful and that every second is a gift. I want to live a life that Seth is proud of, so that when I see him again he will give me one of those amazing hugs and say you did a good job, Auntie. You LIVED HARDER, LOVED DEEPER, HUGGED TIGHTER!
My request of you today is to live your life harder, to love deeper, and hug someone really tight.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY SETHERS!!!!
I LOVE YOU BILLIONS AND BILLIONS!!!