Is it Memorial Day weekend again already?
To me, it feels like it was just a few months ago. Like it was just yesterday that we went from being a family of three to a family of two. Or like it was just recently that we went from celebrating with BBQs and sleeping in to taking time out to not only consider our fallen loved one but all those who served and sacrificed in this way.
And there are so many…
Surprisingly though there are so very many who still wish others a “Happy Memorial Day” or are quick to post and laud the celebration of an additional day off (for most folks since lots of people still gotta go to work) as if that is the most important thing to be considered. And until August of 2005, our family was the same way.
I would never wish for you to understand what it’s like because it would mean that you would need to experience the death of a spouse or child in service to our country. It’s heart wrenching. The loss itself is devastating, but it is not really yours alone. You have to share your loved one with so many others, many who were brave and served alongside them, some who were there when they were injured or killed and those who are also learning to live life differently with a gaping hole in their hearts. Though every individual sacrifice is a huge loss, not everyone in our country personally knows someone or is someone living on the other side of the public burial and honoring.
And I think that’s the rub and why many will read information like this and forget what Monday is really about.
I’m so grateful to God for this newer (more healed) perspective that has taken quite some time and respect to come to. It is no longer a day where I want to hide away all day crying, asking questions that will not ever be answered. It is also no longer a day where I get angry seeing people’s posts about all of the fun that they’re having. Truly. Every day that you have to be with friends and family should be treasured.
I say, have all the fun. Eat all of the BBQ. Laugh with your friends. Take that extra, extra long nap. Squeeze in as much living as you can while practicing these three things this Memorial Day Weekend.
1. Take time out from the festivities to OBSERVE the purpose of the day.
This doesn’t even have to be on Memorial Day, but sometime over the weekend, set aside some time to ACTIVELY remember those who served in our armed forces and paid the ‘ultimate price’ for your blessing of liberty. The Memorial Day Foundation does a great job of explaining the things you can do but also why you would do them, read about some of it here.
Since our move from WI – where our guy is buried, we have been eager to find new ways in our new community here in North Texas to connect with others to actively observe Memorial Day. Thankfully, we’ve connected with people who know of our loss and have invited us to participate in this year’s Carry the Load event ending in Dallas.
I’m excited to participate in something like this with a crowd of others and be a part of them reaching their goal to motivate 1,000,000 to observe and participate in Memorial Day…
Yes, I’ll have a small pack of tissues on me as we walk and yes, there’ll be tears, but it’s the way that we’re pausing to observe and honor the sacrifices of so many this year, and I believe it will be good because we’re doing it together.
2. REFRAIN from WISHING PEOPLE A HAPPY Memorial Day.
It’s not a “happy” day. As painful as it sometimes is to recall the circumstances of their death, we’d rather there be a day that people set aside moments to reflect together on their willingness to serve and sacrifice. And though many of the memorial activities are somber and serious, we would rather people take the time out to remember them…with us.
Let us tell the stories – which may make you laugh.
Let us tell you the memories – which may make you cry.
Call us, text us, invite us to spend time with you doing nothing. Please don’t make us feel like pariahs or like we’re too fragile to open up and share our hearts with you. We want to.
Even though it’s not a “happy” day, we do want to take steps to move forward and do things that may make us smile, remembering some of the best moments of our lives in spite of the greatest pain. Don’t be afraid of our sadness on this day. Please don’t be fearful of our pain.
It’s not a happy time, but there can still be good parts to the day.
3. Save THANKING veterans for VETERANS DAY.
I’ll admit, I don’t even know what to say to the Marines who served with our guy when Veterans Day comes around. I’ve read and heard about how weird it is – what they’re hearing and receiving when people thank them for their service. But even more awkward is when someone thanks a living veteran for their service on a day set aside for those who died while doing what they also did but survived. If they have the patience for it, they’ll “appropriately and tactfully” educate you which will be to your benefit, so let them.
Instead, consider the pearls of wisdom in this article and take some time this Memorial Day to plan how you might be able to be supportive of veterans and their needs throughout the entire year.
Whatever you decide to do, take some time to reflect on Memorial Day, what it has cost so many people who are still learning to live without their loved ones everyday and especially consider the people who answered “yes” to the call with all they had to give.