Nine years ago at exactly 6 o'clock in the morning, I was awakened by a knock at my door. I was in that slightly foggy condition between being asleep and awake as I jumped out of bed and threw some clothes on to answer the knock. I thought maybe it was the girl I was seeing at the time but then I remembered that she had a key so I was at a loss as to who could be at my door so early in the morning.
When I opened it and saw two Marines standing there in their dress blues, I collapsed down to my knees because my oldest boy was in the service and I knew there's only one reason why they pay you a personal visit. My son had died on Saturday night, two days after Thanksgiving.
That was the toughest patch in my life and if it hadn't of been for my two best friends who took turns staying with me, I don't know how I would have made it through.
So Thanksgiving will always be blemished in my mind and in the minds of Brandon's mother and his two brothers. The boys idolized him and took his death extremely hard, as we all did. Parents aren't supposed to bury their children.
Because of Compassionate Friends, I know there are many other people in this area who have lost a child as well. Even though I know it's a false hope, I hope that no one else ever has to endure that pain. There's an old saying that says "Time heals all wounds" but it doesn't. At least not for me.
So even though holidays are meant for celebration, not everybody can. I have a good friend whose wife's mother died the day after Christmas last year. So Christmas will never be the same for her and her family. I know the nature of the beast is to not think of these things if we haven't been directly impacted by them but just remember in your hearts that many people are suffering instead of celebrating when special days roll around.
When my two younger boys were attending the U in Lincoln, I would drive over and Linda, my ex, would drive up from Arkansas and we would celebrate Thanksgiving with our boys. We did that nine years ago and Brandon called us on Thanksgiving. The four of us had a good, happy talk with him and when Linda and I left to go our separate ways, we were both in great spirits. Two days later Brandon was dead.
The boys moved to Arkansas shortly after that to be close to their mom and our Thanksgiving reunions stopped. Since then I've had the good fortune to spend Thanksgiving with many different friends in the area and yesterday was no different. Ken Johnson asked me to have Thanksgiving dinner with him and his family in Hayes Center and I did. It reminded me of Thanksgivings my family had when I was a kid. The house was full of people, from young to not so young and everybody was in the holiday spirit. Stories were spun and jokes were told as we all enjoyed a great Thanksgiving feast. They even sent me home with an extra plate so I could have another meal last night.
My thanks to Ken and his family for helping to brighten my day and to remind me once again that regardless of the tragedies that sometime invade our homes and our families, life goes on.