Long time, huh?
Our vacation time together was great! We didn’t go anywhere (but to Lubbock—Greg actually went three times!) but it was good to be together around here and of course, to visit family and friends. February is always a tough month for me. February 15th is the last time I saw Aaron and February 29, 2004 is the last time he was on American soil. The unit’s plane flew on that day.
Greg and I met Semper Fi Mom and her eldest son, Steven, who has recently returned from Iraq. Steven was a joy to talk to. Everything he shared was positive and the photos he took were fabulous. He spent a great deal of time in some of the same places Richard did. The four of us had lunch at Olive Garden. Gary, the brother-birthday-boy knew we were going and had Greg and I bring him and Karen an order to go! (They live in Brownfield, TX, 36 miles from Lubbock) so when we dropped their order off on the way back home, we got to visit with them. That was a really great day and it felt good inside to set down and listen to a Marine talk. And of course, the Marine’s Lubbock Mom is the cutest thing. She’s always smiling and so busy. She’s the epitome of sweet Motherhood.
On a different trip, Greg and I took Kayla and 2 of her girlfriends to watch the Red Raider (men’s) basketball game against OU. We lost in the last .9 seconds, so bummer, but it was good to be with the girls. They’re all 14—nearly15, so there was a lot of giggling, but I loved it. The photos above were taken at Jake’s Sports Bar in Lubbock. We took them to eat there after the game. I had Greg bring the camera and this is the only photo we ended up with. I really wanted one of the girls standing up so that I could better show-off one of Kayla’s friends. The two blondes and one brunette are all little knock-outs, but it’s Allie I’m talking about today.
Allie is the one sitting in the booth by herself and she’s quite the basketball player herself. She’s scored 30 points in one game of her own. A ninth-grader, her team finished up as the top regional team and now she joins Junior Varsity as they finish up their season.
Allie is important to me for more than one reason. She’s the daughter of Ray and Jody. Ray filmed Aaron’s memorial here for me in Lovington. He was also at the unit’s homecoming party we had here in Lovington when 2/1 made it home in October of 2004. It was there at that party that Ray first began to notice he didn’t feel well at all. After a huge fight for his life, Ray succumbed to lung cancer, leaving behind his wife, Jody, whom I went to school with, and their 4 kids. The two older boys are both college graduates from Las Cruces here; the daughter a little older than Allie is a college student and has been employed throughout her high school and college career. Allie is the baby. She was only in the seventh grade when she lost her dad.
Shortly before Ray (we called him Rapid Ray—an oxymoron for anyone who knew him—he was the most gentle and laid back soul I think I’ve ever known.), but anyway, it was a short time before he left us in that Rapid Ray came to know Jesus. He’d get one of my friends to come to his bedside and he’d tell her, “Say that prayer….” It was the Lord’s Prayer.
What Ray wanted for Allie, she has and is. He wanted her to “dress like a girl” and he wanted her to play basketball. She does both those things and she seeks the Lord in many ways for her life and the life of her friends and family now. She doesn’t talk much about it, but she has told Kayla of how she saw her dad sitting in his chair before his computer one night, and he told her that he was okay—that he was happy and everything was good. It encouraged her greatly and that is when she became interested in this spiritual life that surrounds us all—whether we realize it or not.
It helps to watch her blossom.
I went to Ray’s bedside the day before he died. They had a hospital bed set up in one of the bedrooms. He had his dog in there with him. When I came to the side of the bed, he held out his arm and took my hand. I knew it wouldn’t be long and I held his hand so tight. I thought to myself, this is as close as I’m going to get to heaven and to Aaron for now. I whispered to myself; I didn’t want to startle him, but to myself, I said, “Tell Aaron hello and I love him.”
Mom’s dinosaur computer is finally history. Her new one should arrive today, so, no doubt, she’ll be getting a post in shortly after it’s up. I know she has missed her ranting during these past days.
So, we’re back for whatever that means! And we have missed being here for you. We appreciate you all.
And oh yes, Lisa won Mom’s “Title It” so we’ll get her to get a photo sent to us sometime this weekend.
Happy Friday and I hope you’re wearing RED!