7 years ago today, everything turned upside down. I had known I was pregnant for all of 13 days, and I got the worst phone call you can get. My big brother Tom had been killed in action in Iraq.
Cue the swirling vortex of emotions.
Pregnancy plus devastating family tragedy. I was underwater for awhile. But as time passed, my family put some pieces back together, and we started to move forward in this new reality. We laughed a lot, and cried a lot. We quietly hung Tom’s stocking at Christmas, and celebrated his birthday. We formed a Foundation in his name so that the legacy of Tom Martin can continue — supporting young leaders just like him. We’re doing what we can, with what we have, where we are.
When it comes to Colt, I’m doing what I can. I’ve worried for years about what I would tell him when he started asking. And I still don’t know sometimes. We talk about the Uncle Tom he never met, and he wants to wear his NEVER QUIT shirt all the time. Last Friday was Tom’s birthday and when I picked up Colt from school I asked him about it.
“Buddy, do you know whose birthday it is today?”
“Nooooo. It’s Uncle Tom’s birthday today.”
“How old would he be today?”
“But when he died. How old was he when he died?”
“He was 27.”
“Mommy, that sounds too young to die.”
All I could say was, “it is, Buddy. It really is.”
When it comes to my family, we’re doing what we can. Today, we’re doing something special to honor the 7th anniversary. In years past we’ve shared stories, volunteered, and just spent quiet time together, but this year we’re asking you to join us. The Foundation is spreading Tom’s story and asking for your support in the form of a $7 donation. #7for7
HERE’S the link to our website to learn more, and please don’t hesitate to ask me or my family about Tom.
When it comes to me, I’m doing what I can. I push myself harder than I ever have. I seek opportunities for adventure and fun and “you only live once” experiences — and I often think about Tom when I do. I know he’s proud of me.
When you remember me, it means you have carried something of who I am with you, that I have left some mark of who I am on who you are. It means that you can summon me back to your mind even though countless years and miles may stand between us. It means that if we meet again, you will know me. It means that even after I die, you can still see my face and hear my voice and speak to me in your heart.
― Frederick Buechner