Thursday, April 30, 2009

It still hurts

I just received a wonderful email from my nephew Joey, who is stationed in Iraq. He communicated with the (then) captain who made my visit to Germany for my son Chris' funeral so memorable. Joey sent him an email, then (now) Major Lawrence answered him with a story about Chris that I didn't know.

It's been seven years since Chris died. How can it still hurt so much? This picture of him was the last one I took, probably in the early 1990s. When I went to Germany, I gathered every photo I had of Chris over the years, and I guess he has changed quite a bit, because several people who knew Chris asked if it was his brother.

I realize that I live my life without dwelling on the past, but I keep the triangle box with the flag and his medals on a special shelf, with a picture of him (that is the one surrounded by stars here) and a small picture of Stephen, his brother who died long ago as well. But I don't look at the memorial, I don't look at the box unless it's when I dust it off. My mind just slides right by. But today I feel a squeezing around my heart, as I read the story Major Lawrence told about Chris. I beg his forgiveness for my choosing to put it here without asking permission first:
I have so many stories you may not the day following 9/11 when our unit was guarding Warner Barracks Kaserne in Bamberg. We had limited ammo that had been left over from a range so each Soldier only had a few rounds.....well your cousin, my armorer at the time, decided this wasn't a good thing; people had just been killed by terrorists so he went up to the DIVARTY headquarters marched into the DIVARTY S3s office and said "I am SPC Heath and my unit needs ammo now, not tomorrow but now, if we are guarding a Kaserne then let's do it right".... I received a call about 10 minutes later from the DIVARTY S3 telling me he had never seen such a thing in his entire career but he would be damned if SPC Heath wasn't right...the next day every Soldier had a basic load. This was the kind of Soldier he was, tell it straight whether you wanted to hear it or not. It is so be able to remember this like yesterday.
My son. My precious beautiful Chris, who knew what was right and what was wrong, and he did what he thought was right whether it followed the chain of command or not. I heard this over and over when I was in Germany. Chris, I still miss you. I hope you will be hanging around up there waiting for me, so that when I cross over to that new land, I will be able to hug you once more.


  1. SGT Christopher Joseph HoffmanApril 30, 2009 at 7:23 AM

    Aunt Jan

    Thank you for allowing me to share this with you and in the process learn something more about Chris. It still pains me at times to know that I never got the honor to stand beside him, brothers in arms, and while it pains me never to have done that, to know a little something more, something more to be proud of my cousin, your son, it brings hope that he is indeed waiting there beside others we know and love, waiting for us to join them when the Lord says it is our time.

    I still carry your memorial story (about Chris) with me everywhere I go, knowing that I have a legacy, his legacy as a soldier, to uphold every day.

  2. I'm sorry you're still hurting DJan. I don't suppose the hurt will ever go away, just maybe dim a little. I'm holding you in my heart today. I know you daren't let the tear in your eye fall, for fear of losing a memory.
    Blessings, Star

  3. {{{{ DJan }}}

    Your son was a HERO! Bless his loving soul!
    I'm so sorry, my friend! The pain must seem unbearable but rest assure that your dear son is watching over you each and every day!
    He is truly a reflection of his mother's love!

    Love and hugss

  4. DJ,
    Thank you for sharing. I just finished reading your writing about Chris and I have many tears in my eyes. I'm so sorry! I can so relate in that I have two sons that are currently in the Air Force, but I am so thankful they are not in harm's way presently. I can only imagine if I lost either one of them. God bless you!


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