Today in the United States we celebrate Memorial Day. When my kids were young I wanted to teach them what Memorial Day was really about ~ a day set aside for us to remember and honor those men and women who died while serving in the United States Armed Forces. Since we were rarely able to make our way to our small town to honor my great-uncle who died in a training mission during World War II, I decided to take my boys to a local cemetery (wherever we were stationed) and we would look for the graves of veterans, put together as many pieces of their stories from the dates and/or information on their headstones, and thank them for their service. This annual trip to the cemetery has become a treasured tradition in our family ~ and some of my boys still take time out on the last Monday of May each year to remember… even when they aren’t home.
Some people might think that spending time at a cemetery when there’s no one you know personally or have some kind of direct connection to is strange. But each year as we found a grave marker that told us the person buried there had served and/or sacrificed their life serving our country, we felt connected to that person as we would talk about what was happening in the world during the time that person served. As students of history (especially WWII), we usually knew enough to fill in some of each person’s story. Remembering them and things that happened in the past always lefts us feeling grateful and blessed.
That’s what remembering does ~ connects us to past experiences and people. And even though war isn’t a beautiful and lovely experience for anyone involved, there are good things to be remembered and talked about which often leads to gratitude for the blessings even amidst the hard and tragic.
If you are in the middle of your own personal battle with your son, one that leaves you completely overwhelmed with all the casualties of war (like a broken heart, strained relationships, or not knowing what to do), I encourage you to stop worrying ~ just for a few minutes ~ and remember instead. Remember when his little hand always looked for yours as you walked down the street together. Remember the days when he asked you, while grocery shopping, if he really did like his favorite cereal. Remember even last month when you caught him smiling at you ~ just for a moment because he forgot you are the enemy.
It’s so easy to get caught up in the hard of right now. But even when life is wonderful, things aren’t 100% perfect. It is also true, though, that when life is horrible there are good things that happen along the way.
Like when someone let me know my son looked OK when we hadn’t seen him for a while and he wasn’t talking to us.
Like when other people truly care about your child, even after he’s treated them horribly, because they know the person he’s being right now isn’t the real him.
Like when he actually replied to a text you sent.
Spend some time today ~ right now ~ remembering a precious moment with your son from years ago. Then think about last week and remember something good that happened ~ just one thing (even if it’s that you spent a whole 10 minutes not worrying). Don’t you feel a little more connected to him now?