We are friends, Gold Star wives, at least in part because the worst thing that could ever happen, happened to you. Would we have lost touch long ago if you hadn't received The Knock? Would our paths have gone their different ways? Would we ever have this bond of friendship forged by heartbreak and desperation?
After It happened, I didn't know what to say to you or how to speak to you. My world was still in one piece, but yours was sitting there, crumbling.
It could've so easily been me, but it wasn't. I could be you, but I'm not. Your spot in the front row at the chapel where the Gold Star wives sit was almost mine time again, but that's not how the fates aligned.
Knowing that truth was scary. But admitting that I was grieving, too -- for you, for me, for all of us -- seemed that it would somehow diminish the value and importance of your loss, your sacrifice.
So I tried to be strong. I did not feel strong. But I thought I needed to be strong for you, so that you could look around and see brave faces holding it together, moving forward, forging a path beside you.
In the months and years that have passed since your loss I have realized a surprising truth about the strength and courage I sometimes think I manage to display and the path I have walked.
You did not need me to be strong. Instead, my strength comes from you.
It is the things that you have done since that day that keep me moving forward. It is how you have handled your loss and picked up the pieces that give me courage to do the same. It is the way you acknowledge and honor your husband or wife's sacrifice that paves the way for me to do the same.
It is the path forward you have blazed that I follow.
When I don't know what to say about military loss or how to act, I look to you, Gold Star wives, for cues. When I feel that it isn't fair for me to grieve too, your actions give me permission.