Tuesday, April 2, 2013
Saying Goodbye to Derek.....
When I think of Derek, I think of a quote from Julius Caesar. "Cowards die many times before their deaths; The valiant never taste of death but once." Derek McConnell was a valiant Hero. He volunteered to serve our country. He agreed to protect us all and defend our constitution. Derek, unlike so many, chose to run right into the fire rather than run away. Derek was not afraid to fight. I am beyond honored that I was able to witness his fight so closely. I still cannot believe his fight has ended.
Derek entered our lives the day he was injured. Facebook linked our family to his. Thanks to facebook friends, I was able to help Siobhan and then Krystina navigate this mess of a system that we have to go through. I watched as they stood by, as I had done just months before, waiting for answers from doctors and surgeons. I tried to help them in anyway I could. I sat with them in waiting rooms. I brought them food. I kidnapped them to run out for lunch. Together we cried and screamed about having to go through this Hell.
I remember the day Siobhan was fired from her job. I remember the first time I finally met Derek. I remember the day he and Krystina got engaged. I remember tater tot casserole-date night. I feel we are truly blessed to have so many awesome memories with Derek and his family.
Derek made me cry when he asked if we would come watch him stand up for the first time. I literally choked up for a second. He said, "You have to be there. You're like family." And sure enough I teared up when he stood up for the first time, just like I did with Chaz.
Derek, Krystina, Chaz and I have sat around and discussed futures together. Chaz and I were reminiscing about the time when Derek asked us a gazillion questions about us. "How did you meet? How long before you were married? How did you know it was right?" Derek's questions kept coming and we happily answered them all. Derek is like a curious little brother to us and we were eager to help him any way we could.
Our families go through so much on the road to the new normal. We bond through our tragedies. The last conversation I had with Derek will be the one that always sticks with me. He asked me if I ever thought all this sacrifice was worth it? And he confided in me that he feared a lifetime of health problems for Krystina, I and the other families to deal with it. We talked about how everyone handles this all differently. We talked about how America chooses to enjoy their ignorance. They choose to go to the mall rather than thinking about how to help those who sacrifice for them. I remember telling Derek that I had to chose to believe this is all worth it. He said that he agreed but that sometimes this fight really sucks. We laughed together because his statement was so true. I told Derek that I choose to believe God has a plan for us all. Today I still cannot understand how God could call him home so soon.
Goodbye Derek. Your fight is over. You fought so very hard for so long to stay with us. You demonstrated to us what a fighter truly is. You showed us the meaning of sacrifice. You defined what it means to be a Hero. Our family has been blessed to have had you in our life. You might be gone from our sight, but you will never be gone from our hearts. We still see your smile. We still hear your laughter. And we know you are now walking again in Heaven watching over all of us. You fulfilled the 10th Mountain mission. You completed your "Climb to Glory". We will always remember that it was "No Luck, Only Sacrifice." Rest easy soldier, your battle is done.