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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Measure (01/10/13)

TITLE: Heartfelt Condolences
By Jennifer Martin


"I realize these words can in no way compensate you for your loss, but I hope that you will take some measure of comfort in knowing that your son served his country with honor and courage."
Kaitlyn watched the words appear on the screen as her fingers flew across the keys. In six and a half years writing personal correspondence for the Commandant of the Marine Corps, how many times had she typed these words? She couldn’t remember. To her, these were the most important letters she would ever write, but there are just some emotions that words can never really capture. How can anyone offer a sincere enough condolence to a mother whose son was just killed in combat?
Glancing at the pictures of her own children pinned on the board behind her desk, Kaitlyn imagined the devastation this family felt. No words from the Commandant would ever take that pain away. Only God could heal a wound like that. She finished typing the letter and ended with, "Please know you are in our thoughts and prayers during this difficult time."
Would this family really be in the Commandant’s thoughts and prayers? Kaitlyn couldn’t say for sure. But she vowed that they would be in her own prayers. Sitting in her corner cubicle, she bowed her head and closed her eyes. "Lord, please place your healing hand on this family. Please help them to trust in you during this time of need. Help them to understand that You are not confined by the limitations of this world, You have an eternal view. Please comfort them with Your grace and mercy."

The condolence letter from the Commandant of the Marine Corps arrived today, along with a mountain of other sympathy notes. Cathy didn’t really feel up to reading them all just yet, but she found herself drawn to the one marked “Office of the Commandant.” What could he say that could possibly make up for losing Evan? Her hand trembled as she read through the note, and she tried desperately to fight off the anger that was creeping around the edges of her heart.
Some measure of comfort, she let out a little huff of disdain. Sure, words on a piece of paper bring a measure of comfort, she thought sarcastically. She looked up at a poster her daughter had made for Evan’s funeral, a collage of pictures that spanned from his birth to his graduation from Boot Camp. There was even one lonely picture of Evan petting a dog in Afghanistan, dressed in his combat fatigues. That picture haunted her the most. His eyes stared at her from a foreign place, a barren desert. Words could never capture the pain she felt in her soul. Her eyes longed to cry, but days of sobbing had just left them dry and swollen. Day by day, the anger and the pain were being replaced by numbness, a feeling of nothingness that truly frightened her.
She collapsed into the dining room chair with a heart-wrenching sigh and glanced back down at the letter. Please know you are in our thoughts and prayers during this difficult time. She hadn’t prayed in a very long time. And she wondered if anyone really was praying for her, for Evan. Or was that just an empty phrase people used to make you think they care? She lowered herself from the chair onto her shaking knees. “Dear Heavenly Father, please, please take this pain from me. Heal this hurt. You know what it means to lose a son. I can’t bear this on my own.”
The tears started to flow again. As they streamed down Cathy’s face, she felt a warmth come over her; a peace that told her she would never be alone.

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This article has been read 275 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Barbara Lynn Culler01/17/13
Powerful message. You just never know when our words will uplift others.
Janice Wappel01/17/13
Powerful, encouraging, sad all mixed into one. Well written.
John Huckstep01/20/13
Heartbreaking----Very well done. My only suggestion would be to separate the paragraphs. Maybe it's just me but I find a double space between paragraphs makes it easier on the eyes. Good job.
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 01/21/13
Wow this is an awesome story. You did an amazing job of pulling me in right at the beginning. I could feel the pain in the mother and the kind heart of the secretary. You covered the topic in a fresh way. You brought tears to my eyes as I tried and imagine what the pain would feel like. Often people say that the last thing they can do is pray or the least thing they can do is pray. However as you have demonstrated in the story praying should be the first thing one does and what is the most someone can do for another, not the least. Excellent job on this well-written piece.
C D Swanson 01/22/13
Wonderful and powerful. Thank you. God bless~