I never knew you. But after spending last Saturday with those that did, I am filled with a profound sense of gratitude for all that you were, in your short time with us.
As I listened to people talk about you over the lunch held in your honor, I could not help but notice that most of the stories involved you going out of your way to help others. Most people in attendance remembered a time when you went out of your way to make sure those that needed help never went without it.
My hope is that you find this letter as your spirit drifts from place to place and watch over your family, friends and fellow soldiers in the United States Army, just as you did when your feet walked firmly on the ground.
I wanted to make sure you knew how special your memorial service at our local cemetery was. The veterans that rode in, American Flags on board, and stood at full attention while we all mourned your physical death and the active soldiers that provided a touching and impressive honor guard would have made you proud.
The strength of your parents helped guide everyone through this difficult time. Your extended family was there and remembered you fondly, and your nephews did an excellent job filling your memorial vessel with items to comfort you in your journey. And I am sure those little boys will soon come to realize that those balloons they released that got stuck in the trees was a sign that you wanted to stick around awhile longer.
It seemed from all the remembrances of your life you were on a perpetual search for a place where you would fit in. Fitting in is something we all want, it comes easier to some, and it sounds like you finally found that place with the United States Army.
As we shuffle through life there are many moments that make a lasting impact on us. Ones that we learn from, cry because of, and even smile at the faintest reference to, the pieces of life that we collect and make us who we are.
It occurs to me that the experiences we have, the friends we make and the lessons we learn become the fabric of our lives. And no matter the length, we put together a blanket of these memories which we can use going forward. Whether to help us or someone else, we patch together a quilt that eventually becomes the story of our lives and reveals how we have come to be who we are.
The fact that our doctors were not able to determine your cause of death does leave an empty patch on your blanket. But just because that patch remains blank for now, that does not in any way leave your loved ones in the dark; for it is the empty spots where the light comes through the brightest. And your light will be felt by so many people that you cared about.
I wanted to say thank you for allowing me a day to learn about you and meet all those folks that you cared for and cared so much about you. I will never forget the day and will honor you by adding a patch to my quilt that encompasses all that you lived for, and were striving to become as your body left us.
Rest easy Nathan. See you on the other side.