I know I am a personal finance blogger, but…
I reflected for a long time about what I was going to write on this Memorial Day. As a good personal finance blogger I could have written about ways to save money this summer or share ideas for how you can host a backyard barbeque on a budget, but none of them felt like the right idea. You see, 11 years ago on Memorial Day weekend, my husband’s 32-year-old brother, Seanne, died in an accident and since that day, May 25th 2003, Memorial Day weekend has never been the same to me or my family.
Memorial Day in the United States is a time to reflect on those who serve our country and those who have lost their lives defending it. And when I think about the lost soldiers, I think about their families because I have witnessed firsthand what it is like for someone to lose a child unexpectedly. As my mother-in-law said that night Seanne died, “it’s your worst nightmare come true.” Now that I am a mother, I know exactly what she means.
It is hard to lose anyone that we love, but there is something particularly awful about losing a child. It is a life event that defies the laws of nature. When you lose a parent or grandparent that seems to be acceptable because they came first so it seems natural that they would leave first. We never expect our children to go before us.
Our story of loss
Memorial Day weekend 2003, my future brother-in-law decided to go on vacation with some friends to Lake Havesu in California. It is apparently a popular place to go, boat with friends and swim in the lake. On their last day there, Sunday May 25th, Seanne decided to jump off a 30-foot high cliff that some of his friends had jumped off on previous days.
As these friends recounted, Seanne was excited and enthusiastic about the jump, he even did a summersault off the cliff. He landed in the water, and never resurfaced. The panicked friends got help and it finally took divers to recover his body from the lake. I will never forget the phone call from my mother-in-law telling me that Seanne was gone. I can still hear her voice to this day.
My hubby (who was my fiancé at the time) had just landed in Florida for a consulting job he was working on and my mother-in-law was concerned because she couldn’t get a hold of him to tell him about what happened. I finally reached my then fiancé and had to deliver the news that his baby brother, the one who was only 14 months younger than him was no longer with us.
Eric Clapton wrote the song Tears in Heaven after his young son died in a freakish accident in New York City. It is such a beautiful testament to the love for his son and fear that most parents who lose children have of carrying on and wondering when they will meet those loved ones again.
I wanted to take this day to remember the people we have lost, but especially to remember the parents who have all lost children. They are living day to day in their worst nightmare come true. Every time, I hear about the casualties of war, I think about how that soldier’s family is receiving and spreading the news of loss just as we did 11 years ago. It is a horrific day to recall.
The years have passed and our lives have all evolved without Seanne here day to day; however, the DNA of my husband’s family was forever changed on that Memorial Day. His parents have now become grandparents and new life always brings new hope, but I know that they both constantly think about the life that they lost too soon.
We salute you
To all of you serving in the military, please know that my family salutes you and appreciates all that you do for us. To the families of our troops, especially parents who have lost children serving this country, my heart goes out to you and knows that your children will know your names when they see you in heaven.
Image Source: California National Guard