Time goes on, and you love and you experience loss. It’s all a part of the grand design of this life’s experience. We attach ourselves to people who we admire or love. People who have greatly impacted our lives in ways they could never know or imagine.
These are the distant heroes of our lives. They are religious icons, celebrities, musicians, performance artists, artists, actors, business and wealth leaders, and a host of people who may be beyond arm’s length, yet they inspire us to do better, achieve more or build a fire inside us to offer something more to the world that has blessed us with this gift of life.
Then, when you least expect it, the person who has been such an inspiration to you, ends their physical journey on the very earth you may have shared with them. And you experience a sense of loss.
You may experience a great sense of loss and be affected in the most incredible way, as if you experienced the grief of the loss of a close friend or loved one, even though you may have never met this person face to face, or did not have a two-way long-term relationship. Still, you feel the pain of separation and realize that any hope of sharing an experience or creating something in the future with that person could never be.
Then, as you get older, you see your relatives and friends start to leave this physical plane, and you grieve their loss.
Then, on days, like today, we honor those who have lost their lives in military service. As honorable as this is, to volunteer for military service so that the rest of us can stay at home and enjoy the fruits of our American freedoms, is commendable, to say the least.
A few years ago, I had a son who volunteered for such a command in military service. I watched him take his vow of service, and I was as proud as a father could be. Even though he pledged to give his life in service if necessary, both he and I were certain that the odds were in his favor.
How could we have known that on the first 4th of July following his enlistment, he would be fatally wounded in a Taliban attack in Afghanistan?
We, his mother and I, talked to him on the phone the evening of July 3rd, and he was so alive… He called many friends and relatives that evening. Only a few hours later, there was the ominous knock on our door by a pair of full-dressed military officials delivering the news.
No parent should have to bury their own son or daughter, ever. In that moment, Aaron’s mother and I joined the families that lost a family while in military service as well as parents who would have to lay one of their children to rest.
It is the worst possible pain, yet even in the sacrifice of young PFC Aaron Fairbairn, he leaves behind a legacy that immortalizes his life, sacrifice and service among the many heroes who had fallen before him and those who will fall henceforth.
In our memories of all who are remembered for their deeds on earth, we honor them, celebrate their life and preserve their memory, extending the impact on our lives and the lives of others when we remember them. In this way we invite them to live in us and through us even though their days were numbered.
Sometimes, people you have loved so dearly, more dearly than you could ever dare to admit, suddenly leave, and any sense of loss that you might have may not be deemed socially acceptable. This is referred to as disenfranchised grief, and you are certainly entitled to your grief, though it may be a process of solitude, making your own way, in private, without the emotional support of family and friends.
But that’s okay. We all do the best we can with what we have.
Love, live and honor those who are no longer with us.
Celebrate their lives and add love, value, and longevity to their lives by extending in in your own.