James Jr 11/16/11


No one would argue that our family has not had a tough year. Time has passed to quickly and it seems like yesterday when we received those dreaded visitors. I won’t say time has made it easier to bear. However time has given us a better perspective and taken away some of our bitterness. I pray that time continues to serve us well. I have made the serenity prayer our motto. Lord grant us the serenity to accept the things we can not change. We faced a lot of unchangeable pain and looked to each other for strength. Our literal road of acceptance took us to Alaska for James’ unit memorial. We meet James’ Army family. Shared memories with them and heard them talk of, according to every one of them, their best friend. I didn’t know it was possible for one person to have so many best friends. I myself have many friends, lots of good friends, but only one BFF. I lost count of how many guys spoke of James as their very best friend. For those of you who were blessed to know James, you know he would like us to share his optimistic outlook. He was always smiling and laughing and without knowing it promoting the “cant we all just get along” campaign. James was the peacemaker for us during his last Christmas here. And for those of you who have the inside track to our family, we are loud boisterous, opinionated and argumentative! But James some how always managed to turn an impending fight into something to laugh about, or he would defuse the situation with a hilarious and outrageous story.
James probably wouldn’t like being called a hero, and he probably wouldn’t like all the attention he has received. He joined the army and served his country because it was the right thing to do, because it was a good fight and most of all because it was exciting! James was not a sit around and wait for things to happen kind of person, he was let’s go out and find excitement. He was by no means shy, he liked to draw attention to himself without being the center of attention. He liked to be part of exciting and daring things. He liked to be heroic without flaunting his part at being the hero. And somehow he pulled all this off. We can not feel sorry for his short life when he lived it so fully. We CAN be proud that he wasn’t too weak or too uncertain to grab what he wanted. We can smile when we think of all the good times he had and that he himself was responsible for his happiness. We can accept that James lived his life as he chose. We can accept that he knew his role in our families, in his unit, and for America. And he lived those roles bravely, and held true to all the responsibilities and commitments they required.
The remainder of the serenity prayer is God grant us the courage to change the things we can and the wisdom to know the difference. James had confidence that he could change the world. He was wise enough to know that he wasn’t invincible, however he did not let fear stop him from fulfilling his dreams, goals and duties. James taught us that even when faced with adversity or some awful task that no one else wants to do, in retrospect you can always turn it into a great story! This month James would have been 22. So easily a negative when you see that relatively small number in the grand scheme of things. However I can’t let this get me down, when he lived so positively full of life! In his words “Live life like it’s your last day, you never know when or where it is going to end.” No selfish tears, or self pity for me. Today, I will only heed his advice. I will live life, smile and laugh because this is the legacy he left for me, for his siblings and for all those he loved. James showed us how to be courageous and dream big. Whatever you may want in life. Go for it. Be bold. Be daring. Even if it is something as simple as your own happiness. Be courageous, in your journey, James is cheering you on.

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