Three months after our daughter died, a local boy was killed in combat when his Stryker on patrol hit a buried explosive. I didn’t know his family, but joined the town to honor his sacrifice. Tears streamed down my face as the hearse carrying his remains drove slowly down Main Street. He was just 22 years old.
I met his mom that day, and she shared that her son’s foot was all they had left. It was all the coffin contained, the only thing left to bury.
We hugged long and hard, our wet faces revealing the private hell of two grieving mothers.
Since then, I’ve thought about her often and wondered what it might feel like to lose a loved one in combat. It’s a special kind of loss. The soldier sacrificed his own life with little pay and living conditions to fight for the freedom of people he’ll never meet.
The family sacrifices a child who followed his or her heart, only to return home in a coffin.
The young man I honored on the curb that day represents to me all the faceless soldiers who return home in a coffin.
To those who went before him, I’m grateful for your sacrifice.
To those who went after him, I’m grateful for your courage.
To the families left behind, your loved one will never be forgotten.
In memory of Aaron Aamot
–Lynda Cheldelin Fell XOXO