Yesterday we attended the 101st memorial at Arlington National Cemetery. We arrived early so I could go visit my friend's husband grave site. When I said I was going to be right back, Deryn asked, "Are you going to see Mr. Dave?" And I said yes. She then told me she wanted to go. Of course little sister wanted to go to and I happily agreed to let them come with me.
As we were walking down Eisenhower, this is what we saw.
Deryn said, "Mom there are so many stones." I said, "Yes there are." She said, "So this is what Memorial Day is about?" I said, "Yes it is." She then started asking questions about the people buried there. We had a very important walking home school lesson. We talked about what we have in the US that many other countries do not. We talked about freedom and how blessed we are to be Americans.
Then she wanted to know how many of Daddy's friends were there and I told her I really wasn't sure. She asked, "How many friends has Daddy lost?" I told her, "I stopped counting at 30." She asked why and I went on to tell her that once Daddy lost his 30th friend I just counted count anymore. The number made my heart hurt. I went to as many of their memorials as possible. But I don't think we know anyone at Arlington besides Mr. Dave.
Deryn went on to tell me about her memories of Mr Dave. "Mom, he really loved McGwire. I remember." Deryn and McGwire were in Kindergarten together when Dave was tragically killed in a helicopter crash. But somehow in that short window of time, Dave planted a seed in our little girl's heart and it has bloomed.
I'll never forget the day Kristy told me about Dave. My heart stopped. It was like she took the air out of me. It was so hard to not immediately go into the ugly cry.
I still remember the night when Deryn was in Kindergarten and she was crying because she didn't want to lose her Daddy. I remember her asking me all sorts of questions about death. I remember crying to Chaz later after I calmed Deryn down. I was not ready to have such a serious conversation with a 6 year old. It's moments like these that are the invisible scars of war.
We are so blessed that Kristy and the boys are still in our lives. Dave was killed September 11, 2007 and I am pleased to report Kristy and the boys are doing amazing well. We are thankful for the privilege to watch them heal and be a small part of their lives.
Kristy and I became even closer once Chaz was injured. I was all smiles when we landed at Chaz's homecoming, but one look at Kristy and I lost it. I knew out of all of those people standing there I knew she knew how extremely thankful and blessed I felt at that moment. I would like to think that if God would have let us keep Dave a little longer that Kristy and I would still be the friends like we are. But I know God has a plan and his plan was to unite us through our tragedies.
Kristy, I am so blessed to know you and you are one of my heroes. I know I've told you many times you are stuck with me. I hope you are as happy with that as I am. Thank you for letting us be a small part of your lives. Happy Memorial Day, Stanley family. Our family will never forget your hero.