Mourning the loss of a brave young man

Published 12:00 am Thursday, September 29, 2005

A friend I love dearly has a grandson that was lost off the coast of North Carolina during helicopter anti-submarine training.

Words cannot express how much my heart hurts for her. He was an only child and I would never dare to say I know how the family feels. I cannot even comprehend what that wife, mother, father, grandmother and family are going through. All I can say is I am so sorry and I hope God will comfort them and be with them during this time. I know Geraldine reads my column. She encourages me every week with her kind words. I wish I had the words to encourage her now.

She has had two serving in the armed forces. She has kept our Sunday School class updated on their activities and is so proud of them. We know she prays for them and she

asked us to pray with her. The one who was lost off the coast recently helped with the hurricane evacuees that were brought to Charlotte. The other is an aide to General Casey. Both were home not long ago. Geraldine missed church that week (a rare thing) so she could see them. I know she values that time she had with them.

I want that family to know we are grateful for the service that young man gave his country and we are deeply sorry for their lost loved one. Friends have said he was a wonderful person who they were proud to have known and loved.

None of us know what each day will bring our way. I think the events of the past few weeks bear that out. It has been a particularly hard time for our country. Devastation, destruction and grief are before us every day.

How can the families handle it all? I don't know any other way than to turn to the one who is closer than a brother? How does anyone make it through hard times without God who is ever present and our source of comfort and hope? I know Geraldine's faith is in Him. And I know that He will be her comfort and support.

It sure makes the things we gripe about and the things we worry about seem mighty trivial doesn't it? We complain about so much and fail to see the things we have been blessed with. We humans have a tendency to use tunnel vision until a tragedy comes along and then we see what others are going through.

I remember one time I felt sorry for myself because of some problem I was having. Then I talked to a friend from Gates County whose son and father were in pretty bad health and she was having a real struggle trying to care for them and do all that her job required. She was a high school principal – trouble enough by itself. All of it was taking an emotional and physical toll on her. I went away from that meeting wondering how I could have ever thought I had a problem.

While the men and women who serve our country are very much in the forefront of our mind, we sometimes forget the great sacrifice their families are making for us. "They also serve who only stand and wait."