Before You Flip The Burger

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Dear World,

I realize that this letter will come a little after the fact given the title is “Before You Flip The Burger,” but I guess it has taken me most of the day to plan out what I would write. That, and until children, husband and dog are either asleep or at work, there is no writing for me.

I guess it has taken me most of the day to really reflect on what this holiday is all about. Those of you that have read some of my posts know that I really try to put myself in the shoes of others to try and understand better where they may be coming from. This day was no different for me. I really wanted to think and be mindful of the reason that we are celebrating Memorial Day.

Over the past week, I have seen many pictures and posts on Facebook that have called for observance of the soldiers who have fought for our freedom. One of them that struck me was this one below.

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It is so easy to forget that the lives we are able to live today, were at the cost of so many lives. Our freedom really has come at a great cost and for that we should be forever thankful.

Memorial day has been a nationally observed holiday since the late eighteen hundreds and originally began as decoration day. It was a day to decorate the graves of those who had died in the pursuit of protecting our country. To this day the holiday is still celebrated but I wonder if the point has been lost to many of us.

When you ask most about their plans for Memorial Day, they will tell you of hot dogs and hamburgers, parades and picnics, good times and noodle salad. What most don’t mention is the why we are even celebrating this day.

It is very easy to forget the reason if it doesn’t touch you directly. I haven’t lost a parent or grandparent, and uncle or friend in any wars or military duty. I know plenty of people that have served, but I haven’t suffered that loss directly. I am grateful for that. There are so many families that will not celebrate this holiday but instead pay respect on this holiday because they have lost someone.

Regardless if we suffered a loss or not, I think that respect is deserved from each of us. I know that I can’t pick up a gun tomorrow and fight for our country. I am not wired for it. If there were a law that went into place tomorrow that said that I had to, well…. I’m sorry but the rest of the country would suffer because I wouldn’t make it very far. It’s just not me. If they wanted me to cook dinner for the troops and possibly do some laundry, now that’s speaking my language, but guns and fighting is just foreign.

I am not even sure if I could be a mom of a soldier. I just don’t know if I am wired for that. I can’t imagine spending Christmas without my son because he is off in a desert fighting terrible people that would kill him in a second. That is just not something that I am sure that I could deal with. I would worry and cry endlessly and if Brian was able to put up with the basket case that it would make me, it would be a blessing.

All of that said, there are brave people that do this every day. They have decided that they are willing and able to fight for the country that they call home and they are willing to lay down their lives to keep it safe. These men and women are heroes.

Their mind must say that fear is not an option and they stand proud and strong for the benefit of all of us who are not able to.  I am amazed by these men and women and thankful that they are as strong as they are.

As I spent the day thinking about what it would be like to be one of these brave people who give everything they have, including their lives, I also thought about what it would be like to be their family. I am not sure what I would do if some day Jacob said to me that he was going into the military. I know for sure that I would be proud that I had raised a boy to be so selfless that he would be willing to make such a sacrifice, but I think other than pride all that I would feel is fear.

I can’t imagine what it would be like to be a parent of a soldier, today especially. This world is a mess! There is danger in every corner and I can’t even begin to think of how these families go on day by day knowing that they have a loved one in the line of fire. Every day must be difficult as there is an unknown. “When will they come home?, Will they be alright?, Will they be hurt?, Will they ever return?” These questions would never end for me.

So I guess all of this brings me to the title, before you flip the burger, maybe we should consider why we are able to. There are many countries that would consider the very right to have a barbecue and grill a few meat products to be  luxurious. They don’t have the rights that we do and they don’t have the men and women to fight for them like we do.

I realize that all of us have probably already flipped the burger, but it is not too late to recognize the men and women that are gone as a sacrifice to us. This day is not about cookouts and how much candy we can collect at a parade. It has nothing to do with potato salad and hot dogs. It isn’t about an extra day off in the week and it has nothing to do with the pools opening for the summer.

It is everything to do with people that are dead. Brave people that have fought and died so that I don’t have to. This day is about all of those men and women, past and present that give everything because I can’t or won’t. It is about their families that suffer the loss as well. It is all about these heroes and nothing about a burger.

Love, Cherise

P.S. I hope that you all had a happy and safe Memorial Day and if you hadn’t thought about how important this holiday is, I hope that you think differently now. I am thankful for each and every person that fights for our country and I would love to see your comments with thanks to the troops that you may know.

 

A Prayer for Moore

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Dear God,

The past few days have been trying to say the least for the people of Moore Oklahoma. As we have all heard and watched on the news, this area has been devastated by one of the worst tornadoes in history. I am sure that no community wants to make history like this. All of the media sources are showing videos and pictures and it is amazing to see how so many are so willing to help in the days that follow this great tragedy. These people will continue to need support and help from our entire country for probably years to come.

I look at all of the pictures and videos and like so many others, my heart is sad for all of these people. I can never imagine what it would be like for the parents especially, who have lost their babies.  I picture myself in their shoes and I try to relate what it would be like and I have a feeling of uncertainty that is painful.

I imagine that I am at work that day and on the radio reports of an enormous tornado are playing over and over. Nothing sane crosses my mind other than find my children. The tornado hasn’t hit yet but I must be with them and have them in my arms.

I grab my keys and in the adrenaline rush I don’t even think to get my purse. Like a movie I am transported from my desk to my car in less than a blink of an eye and I am on the road to my son’s preschool. I can see that the weather is not good and I am terrified as I continue to hear the reports on the radio. It is so dark out as the wind is terrible. I drive in auto pilot to my sons preschool and I don’t even know how I made it there so quickly. He is in my arms and I am thankful that I have one of them.

Once again we are back in the car and off to get my daughter. My husband is calling me and he is on his way to the school as well. We know inside our hearts that this day will be forever changing. It is a feeling that just came over me that I knew I had to get my family. There are sirens and the wind is fierce. It is making it difficult to drive and I can feel my car sway with each gust.

I am crying silently as I drive because I am so scared but I don’t want to scare my baby in the back any more than he already is. I take a glimpse of his face in the rear view mirror and I know that he is as scared and unsure as I am.

By this point every minute lasts for an hour. Time is just dripping by and every movement that I make is deliberate and slow. I feel a pain in my heart and I know something.

Minutes or hours later when I arrive to where the elementary school once was I am speechless. There is dust and rubble and blood and tears. I am in a movie now. I feel drunk with confusion and I am out of my car sort of stumbling around. My son! I get him out of the car and hold him as I stare forward at nothing.

Tears haven’t stopped streaming down my face and the pain in my chest is so immense that I can hardly breath. I can’t swallow and my entire body shakes. I see people running from the pile of bricks. There are people digging in the pile of bricks, throwing block after block to the side to see what is underneath.

This is not happening. I am in a movie.

I think that the worst feeling is that I don’t know. I have no idea where my daughter and husband are. There are no phones working right now and I have no sense of anything. I am a shell of a person at this moment and can’t quite get a grip on what I am supposed to do. I see people coming my way carrying children and they are all beat up. There is blood and tears and I can’t take anymore. I am sobbing and no longer trying to stay stoic for my son. I am a mess.

As a mother I have seen the news and I am lost. My heart couldn’t hurt more for the families that are dealing with this very real tragedy right now. What I wrote was what I imagined I would feel, but I would bet that it is so much more intense for the people that are actually experiencing it.

I know I would question why? It is the obvious question. I would have no idea where to go from here. I imagine that most of these people have had similar thoughts. I have prayed for these people and I continue to. This time in their lives will test each and every one of them in ways that I am sure they never imagined.

I believe that when tragedy strikes us, there is always the calm after the storm. There is something good that can rise out of the dust. I know that you are watching over us and that you are a merciful God. I pray that the all of the people affected by this weeks outrageous tornado can see some day that you do have a plan in place.

I imagine that it is very hard for most to see anything good but I watch as people join together in support. I watch as people are helping in any way possible and I am amazed at how quickly people gathered with love and kindness. It is this that I think is encouraging.

If I had been in the shoes of these poor people, it is the love and kindness that would encourage me to pull myself up. I would wipe my eyes and start walking forward to help those that are still in need.

So many were lost in this tragedy and that is one of the hardest things to deal with. Each life that was cut short  saddens me. It is a hurt that will probably never heal for this community. Time may ease the pain slightly, but I imagine that this will always be a scar on the hearts of those that lost a loved one.

God, I pray that you can watch over the entire area that was swept with this ferocious storm. I pray that your hand will touch those that are hurt physically. I ask that your hand also be there to strengthen those that are working so hard to rescue so many lives. I pray that you show your love and compassion as they begin the long process of rebuilding their lives and I ask that you care for all of the people and children that did not survive and I pray that their families will find peace some day. I pray that there will be a light at the end of this storm for all of those that were hurt and lost loved ones. In your name I pray. Amen.

Love, Cherise

Donations can be made to support the tornado victims at http://www.samaritanspurse.org or http://www.redcross.org