His name was Eddie.
Though his family attended a church across town, his teenage sister was part of the youth group my husband pastored. When our first baby was born, we asked her to babysit.
It started a friendship between our families that lasts to this day.
Their Eddie and our Kenna were just months apart. As they grew, they became childhood friends.
Both were homeschooled and once both moms decided, since their public school friends had no classes that frosty, foot-of-fallen-snow January day, we’d give them a snow day too.
Here they are in my backyard before retreating inside to warmth to sip some hot cocoa.
Eddie was always a delightful, polite and fine son.
Today, now a young man, Ed (forever Eddie in my mind) wears a scar of war.
He also wears an artificial foot. The one given at birth is no more.
Hear his sister Shari’s words after returning from a visit to his rehab hospital:
I reluctantly returned last night from my visit with my brother. I really do not have adequate words to describe the trip: amazing, overwhelming, heartbreaking, inspirational.
Even though I thought I was prepared, I have to be honest and say I held in the tears and really had to take a few minutes to adjust. I tried to hide that from him but I’m sure he knew.
It’s not just seeing my brother that is a mixed emotion it’s being at that facility that is completely life changing. I believe every American should have to take a trip there. I don’t think anyone realizes the obstacles these boys have to overcome when they are injured. Nor do people realize the volume of injuries that are taking place.
My brother is now in an apartment building with two wings. One wing is five stories the other eight, totally filled with amputees!!! These are kids most of which are under the age of 25 and most losing at least two limbs (usually both legs).
A large majority are without 3 limbs (both legs and an arm). You can tell they try very hard to salvage at least an arm for these young men. Many have one arm, however mangled and without all their fingers, their attempt at giving them something.
You walk through the halls of this apartment building knowing there is a different story and heartbreak behind each soldier, but also courage and hope to find their place now.
As if walking through the hospital and apartment building isn’t enough to give a whole new meaning to our American Flag and everything it stands for I got to take two trips to physical therapy with Ed.
I couldn’t help the tears that came not only for my brother but the others whose injures are so extreme. To see them in tears of their own pushing and working so hard to overcome their injuries and simply try to live a “normal” life was again was something I cannot put into words.
The things you see them do (those without limbs literally rolling from one place to another) with a smile or pain dripping off their face made my life look like roses.
This may sound weird but I felt very blessed to experience that and be taught the appreciation for …well.. basically everything. You don’t realize how much you have until you experience what I did at Walter Reed.
A few weeks ago our Kenna hopped in her car after work late on a Saturday and traveled from her home in North Carolina to the nation’s capital to visit her childhood and still close friend.
Like old times, they made pizza. Laughed. Fell asleep watching movies. She even gave him a haircut (legally now that she’s a real cosmetologist!)
She even proudly witnessed his very first post-war step.
Mom Sharon got to be with them all weekend.
I got to stay home and pray as the update tweets rolled in; pray for the little boy from my backyard who grew into a man, gladly giving limb, and nearly life, so others could live free.
Sweet sisters, I have no words of help here today.
No clever quips.
No organizing tips.
No fun giveaway to offer you by a comment left.
There is nothing in this post here for you today.
Instead I am asking you to take an unselfish moment of time to leave a comment for soldier Ed.
Even a simple thanks to this man whose life was altered forever because he tried to fight for a better life for foreign strangers whom he did not even know.
Veterans Day is sorely and sadly overlooked.
Will you make in not be so here?
I thank you.
And I know Ed and his sweet, sacrificial family do too.