Ode to those who served and died… and to the women who bore them.

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Is it impossible to move on? Is it impossible to deal with such enormous sorrow that brings constant unyielding pain? Does life no longer make sense? Is it not worth living at this moment? And is living with a sense of purpose and joy completely unthinkable?
Or is there a place in the healing process where we can reach for something beyond ourselves, where we muster up only a grain-of-sand worth of umph, where we get out of bed and see the sun still rising, and without any remaining reserves of our own ability, we simply whisper, “I will trust what I cannot understand”? I will leave this, too, with One who is higher than I am?
And is it possible that we are then met—rather, that mustard seed of faith is met—from a power from on high who brings comfort we could never imagine might exist in this place of death? Where the mountain of confusion, doubt, and despair slowly disappears . . . and the fog of our lives clears just a bit as we place one foot in front of the other and discover we can, in fact, go on?
It is my assumption that this is what Dixie Eulitt did in the months and years that followed the death of her son. Because the lady I later knew was a woman of strong faith and outstanding character and one who never conveyed to me anything other than that. My only regret is that I didn’t take the opportunity to ask her myself exactly how she managed this transition and how she lived the rest of her life with the grace she always exhibited.

(Author’s note to the reader: As I wrote this chapter, I was awakened one night with words swirling in my mind, “oh precious blood that flowed.” I got up and wrote mile 15.9 as a representation of the loss a mother may feel when faced with circumstances such as these. I pray there will be healing in the words for any who have experienced something so heartbreaking as the loss of a child in battle.)

Ode to those who served and died . . . and to those who bore them

I felt you first,
Felt your life inside of me.
I felt your kicks, your rolls, your turns, It was a wonder, don’t you see?

I knew the rhythm of your beating heart, Only inches away from mine.
My life for yours, my body sustaining, With all you would require.

And if the choice was given me, That fact would never change.
For I would always give my life for yours, There could be no other way.

I saw your first smile,
Or at least a smile it seemed to me. I heard your first laughs,
The purest sound that there can be.

I saw your first steps,
I clapped and shouted with praise. I saw your first fall,
And with my hand I helped to raise.

I felt your first tooth,
As it was breaking through. I stayed awake when you would cry, I did all that I could do.

Each “first” was given to me, A blessing I won’t forget.
First victories, first defeats, I saw them all . . . and yet,

One day you would go past, The place my eyes could see.
You left, you grew, you went away, To where I could not be.

But you can never go so far away, That your mother’s love won’t reach. No land is far enough away,
To miss my silent prayer’s beseech.

I saw you go off to fight—to serve,
In a place you did not know and had never imagined you would be.
I heard your country jeer and mock, They did so ignorantly.

From afar they could not know, The bravery you showed.
Facing fears, going on,
Deep in problems others sowed.

But did you think of yourself first? Oh, no. In each letter that was clear.
You wrote to me, day by day, And sought to ease my fear.

But then they came, then they came! Men I did not know.
Telling me, breaking me, They used the word hero.

How could they say such words?! They do not have the right.
Where were they when you were born? They did not see my fight.

My fight to bring you up for good, For a future and a hope.
Not to give that life, that precious life—No! This was not your scope.

How have you gone where I cannot go? How have you gone where I cannot go?
I would give my life for yours, you know! How have you gone where I cannot go!

Oh, righteous blood that flows, on a small battlefield it was poured.
My son! My son was given, how valiantly you warred.

In a land not your own, your body no longer whole Oh, righteous blood that flows, crushing now my soul.

Where shall I turn? How can I go on? This death now killing me . . .
Darkness, despair, confusion, How can I be set free?

When through the fog comes something, A light. A glimmer. One piercing gleam. My mind brings back a memory,
Of a road One other had seen. Hark!

Oh, righteous blood that flows, on a great battlefield it was poured.
A Son! A Son was given, how valiantly He warred.
Upon a cross for all mankind, to make this cruel world whole, Oh, righteous blood that flows, only Yours can heal my soul!

It is my sincere hope that I have, in some small way, honored the life of a man I never knew; a man who held my wife (his niece) upon his knee when she was one year old. A man trained for battle, spending one last Christmas at home before leaving to begin the last month of his life on this earth.
It is my hope that I have honored him, his family, and people like him who died in service to their country . . . but really in service to their brothers on a battlefield, as a representative of the family and nation from which they came.
It is my deepest hope in this mile, that a life like his would, there- fore, continue to be known and continue to plant seeds even now, these many decades after he has gone. That he did not live . . . and die, so young in vain. That the reader would know and understand that a gentle man, a kind man, served and died for us, for freedom.
Leonard Elzy Eulitt. (12/15/1943-02/09/1968). He lives on. And warmth replaces the cold.

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