We're really in the homestretch now. Day 27. It will soon be May. Today's assignment is to talk about the last time I cried. Folks who know me would probably joke that the answer would be, "What time is it?" I'm a crybaby. I own that. And it's why the narrator of my books is too. If you want to guarantee it, just play any one of about a dozen songs from Les Miz. So I don't have to go far back to think of the last time I wept.
It was Sunday. Sunday evening to be precise. I had done all the work my brain wanted to do for the day, so I was channel surfing when I came across a segment of 60 Minutes called "Gold Star Parents." As I watched the segment, the lump was forming, and by the end, I was full-on crying. It just was so sad and hard to watch at times.
Gold Star parents isn't some organization for really good parents. It's a gathering for parents of children who have lost their lives in war. Every year, there's a reunion at a former hotel that's been converted to a living memorial in San Francisco. It's put on by Blue Star Parents to honor and hopefully bring comfort to Gold Star parents.
For those of you who don't already know, the terms Blue Star and Gold Star refer to banners that would be hung in windows of families who had a member overseas in a war. This tradition started in World War I. Every blue star denoted a loved one who was currently serving and each gold star stood for a loved one who had lost his or her life in the war. So Gold Star parents are parents whose child has died.
The segment contained interviews with many parents whose children were gone who talked of the fact that their lives had changed in ways no one could fully understand except someone who had gone through the exact same thing. Other interviews were with Blue Star parents who felt the need to provide this program to try to bring some element of peace and healing to their comrades who had sacrificed just that little bit more than they had been required to. But perhaps the most poignant interview was with a retired general who had served in Viet Nam. He told of his experience of going to talk to the parents of a man who had died under his command. He said that he was too young and immature to realize that, while he needed to hurry away from this awkward situation, what those parents really needed was to talk to him about their son. It was their way of keeping him alive.
It's hard for me, someone who, at age 52, has never had to say goodbye forever to anyone close to me, not even a parent, to imagine the heartbreaking sacrifice of losing a son or a daughter in such a way. As I sat and watched from the comfort of my chair, I wept. I wept in abject sadness for these brave families who have endured more than I can even imagine. And I wept in gratitude that, for reasons I can't fathom, God has never put me through anything like this. Maybe I'm not as strong as they are. Maybe no one is until they have to be. But for whatever reason, these folks have been asked to make the ultimate sacrifice a parent can make--to live to bury their child. I salute them.
If you would like to see the segment, click here.