Ribbons of yellow streamed below the horizon, as if God had woven a message of hope. “I want to believe, God. But as I look on the start of this new day, I can’t find even a glimmer of hope.”
Dan joined me on the balcony, off our bedroom. I felt his hand on my shoulder. “It’s time, Janelle.”
The sound of his voice spoke volumes more than his few words. I was sure that not only was he feeling hopeless, I doubt he even noticed the fading sunrise. I turned into his arms. “How are we going to make it through this?”
He pulled me close. “We will get through this together.”
Back inside, Dan held out my jacket and I placed my arms into the sleeves. What’s going to warm the chill inside of me…the one that is freezing my very soul?
We went down the stairs and onto the front porch. Dan’s parents and mine were already in the car.
“It doesn’t seem possible just eight months ago the family gathered to give Mark a farewell dinner. How do we say a final goodbye to our son?” Dan brushed his hand across his eyes.
I couldn’t speak, I took his hand and we walked to the car.
The car began to move out of the driveway. My eyes were drawn to the yellow ribbon still in the window. The ribbon filled with our hopes and prayers. We wanted Mark to come home—we wanted to hear the sound of his voice, the sound of his laughter, the sound of his footsteps. I don’t understand God, where is the hope?
Dan reached for my hand and wove his fingers with mine. I’m not sure if he was looking for strength, or seeking to comfort me. It didn’t really matter—nothing would bring Mark back to us.
We arrived at the chapel. Two other limos had arrived at the national cemetery, before us. We had agreed to have our son’s service combined with the services of two other men from his unit, who had lost their lives fighting along side of him. We had only met the other young men through our son’s letters.
We began the slow procession to the front of the chapel where three caskets were standing, each draped with our country’s flag. I felt numb as if this was all surreal. I closed my eyes. “Please God let me wake up from this nightmare.”
Several people spoke. Some recalling cherished moments with our son. Some acknowledging what I already knew—he was an exceptional person, an exceptional friend, and an exceptional young man. Someone mentioned how his loss would be felt for a very long time. With every breath I breathe for as long as I live. I thought.
The final speaker was introduced, another man from Mark’s unit.
He clearly took a deep breath and began to speak. “My name is Scott Ames, I wanted to be here today to honor three heroes. I served in the same unit with Mark, Steve, and Ron. One night, as we crawled through the muddy trenches, I was wounded in both legs. Refusing to leave me, these three carried me to a safe place.” Scott stopped speaking a moment, then held up a Bible with a navy blue cover. A Bible I had watched Mark pack in his own duffle bag.
Scott continued to captivate us with his story. “It was several hours later that the medics came, before I was carried away one of the guys placed this bible in my hands. When I heard about this unbearable tragedy I questioned God, a lot. The only solace I could find is the promise I make before my three heroes today. To make each day of my life count, I challenge each of you to join me, grab hold of the hope of freedom, which these three heroes and thousand of others gave their lives for.” He once again held up the Bible, and then continued. “And the greater hope found only in Christ.”
Scott maneuvered his wheelchair in front of the caskets, and saluted. “Until we meet again, my brothers, until we meet on heavens shore.”
I felt my Heavenly Father had embraced me with the warmth of His love. I laid my head against Dan’s shoulder and whispered to him. “We will make it through this together.”
Dan leaned his head on mine. “With the strength and hope of Christ,” he whispered.
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