Each year his face surfaces in my mind, like a soft, gentle reminder of what could have been. He was a childhood friend sharing elementary classes and his silly grin is vivid now as if he was still sitting near me in class, whispering a joke he knew would cause someone to laugh at an inappropriate time.
I see reflections of him in the students I serve and I sometimes wonder if they, too, will choose a similar path.
A path of honor.
A path of distinction.
A path that may stop abruptly without explanation.
A little more than fifteen years ago, I welcomed my second child into this world, his birth a joyous celebration. The very next day, the life of my childhood friend ended, one of many casualties in a conflict fought on foreign soil.
There were no celebrations for his family.
When I returned home from the hospital, I wrote his parents a letter and filled it with memories of their son, as I sat in my living room holding my own son in the crook of my arm. The tears streamed down my face as I thanked them for their priceless gift to this world. As the wife of an Air Force veteran, I understood all too well the worries and fears of sending a loved one away to a land filled with hate, horror, and helplessness.
Their son made a difference in the lives of strangers.
Their son made a difference in the lives of those with whom he served.
Their son made a difference in me.
Today I remember my dear friend, J.R. Teal, and all the other fallen soldiers who have lost their lives protecting our country. Their price of sacrifice is greater than this Momma’s heart can bear to describe.
May we always remember those who serve bravely, taking risks to make this world filled with kindness, love, and peace. They are the heroes whose legacies live on forever.
Thank you J.R.
Thank you for being my friend.