"I sure do wish that my Mom, Payton, Emily, Mike and Lynda could see how well I'm doing here....
I think they get sad a lot when they think about me. Payton's still little so she probably sees things clearly. Do you know how your crew is doing?"
"My Mom's had a lot more time to get used to my absence than yours has. She still cries once in a while but keeps talking to me kind of like I was still down there. She has a lot of fun. I love hearing her laugh - but it took time. The first few years were rough. I tried to send her messages but she was quite a mess. I don't think they see subtle signs when the grief is so fresh."
"One day last week, my mom was playing her trumpet. For a change it wasn't TAPS, God Bless the U.S.A. or anything having to do with veterans. She was playing Dancing Queen and it was cool to see her booging to the music and getting right into it. She was a bit off key but didn't seem to care."
"What they don't seem to get in the early years is that we're okay and have our own life up here. I do check on all of my family sometimes but they seem to be doing good. The thing is that if someone's illness gets really bad or they get into an accident they'd be on their way here anyhow. It's not like they'll never see us again."
"Payton has blue eyes like mine. She is so smart and can be quite sassy! Emily has her hands full with that little spit fire - she's doing a good job with our little girl. Payton goes to kindergarten this fall. She talks about me to her preschool teachers all the time. That's my girl! Can you imagine the look on grown-ups' faces when a tiny little girl comes up with, 'My Daddy died, did you know that?'"
"I wish adults would take a few pointers about end-of-life from little kids. Grown-ups teach children how to react to things by their example. It's not intentional because it is how they were raised. Really, how can death be spooky when it eventually hits everyone? Nobody seems to get all jacked-up about being born! There are studies and entire curriculum being developed around what actually happens at the time of death. It's really not all that complicated."
"Memorial Day is this week-end. That's always a tough one for my mom - it was for me too. Not for me anymore though, Dad and I'll spend it together. Grandpa too, he was in the Army. It is nice to see my family honoring veterans and I think Mom marches with the Blue Star Mother's in a parade. It's the veterans that are still there that need support. Some of them really struggle and I haven't forgotten what that's like. Believe me; I wouldn't want to go through that again!"
"Brian, I hope your family keeps healing and getting better all the time. Remember three years isn't all that long. They'll all be okay and if they're not - you know where they come. Happy Memorial Day buddy, thanks for your service!"