Memorial to Sergeant Sean Michael Lagrand
Third Marine Air Wing, Aircraft Rescue Fire Fighting.
July 13, 1981-September 25, 2006
This Memorial Day morning, I hear my husband sniffle. I look over, sure I know...but I ask, anyway, as I wrap my arms around him and his blue terry robe:
"What is it?"
He swallows. "It's Memorial Day," he says, the words thick. I hold him a moment more, then step away, leaving him space to sip his coffee and drink deeply of his grief.
I grieve with my husband, on Memorial Day, on Sean's birthday, every time we gather for a family photo.
Each photo bears a sacred hole. We're missing one.
But Sergeant Sean Michael Lagrand was his son, not our son. He died in September, 2006, a year before we married. I can go with my husband to his grieving place, but I am confined to the waiting room.
Rich goes without me into the inner chamber of his grief. I wait for him, pray for the Spirit to accompany him to this painful, holy place.
I know the facts: Sean had completed eight years in the Marine Corps when he died; he was on terminal leave the day of the accident that took him. "Terminal leave" is the military expression for using up all of one's accrued leave time at the very end of one's enlistment in the service. It's not meant to be fatal.
Sean survived two tours of Iraq, including the Battle of Fallujah. War can be ugly and noble at the same time; Sean's memories of the ugliness he saw in Iraq, the things he was called to do in service to his country--in service to us--tormented him, fueling an anger that led to an impetuous, fatal motorcycle ride.
His wife Rachael was widowed on her twenty-fourth birthday. Son Ayden had just turned two.
Ayden in His Daddy's Helmet. January, 2011.
Those are the facts.
At 0800--in just a few minutes--we will raise the flag smartly, then slowly lower it to half-mast. At 1200 we will raise the flag again to the top of its pole. Because that's what one does on Memorial Day.
I sit in the waiting room while my husband grieves. I grieve with him as best I can. I pray for peace in his broken heart, lift him up to the One who heals the most searing wounds. And I am comforted. While I can't go with him into the holy place, he does not go there alone.
As I pray for my husband, I pray for everyone else who spends today in an inner chamber, and for everyone who waits in grief's waiting room.
Sean and Rich, Celebrating Sean's Return from his Second Tour in Iraq.
16 Now may the Lord of peace Himself continually grant you peace in every circumstance. The Lord be with you all!
2 Thessalonians 3:16 (NASB)
I'm linking up today with L.L. Barkat's In, On, and Around Mondays from my place in the waiting room. Won't you visit there, too?