“Greater love hath no man than this that a man lay down his life for his friends.” ~ John 15:13 (NRSVCE)

This weekend is both Memorial Day weekend and the Solemnity of Pentecost. While many families are preparing for BBQ’s, family gatherings and the endless advertised sales along with other activities, many others are taking this weekend as a time of reflection and solitude. Memorial Day is a time to remember sacrifices and the hope they have brought. A time to remember those who have laid down their lives for us.
Speaking for myself, Memorial Day weekend is usually a challenging time for me. It is a time where I remember, reflect and, sadly, withdraw into myself. I usually find myself a bit edgy and distant and spending far too much time strolling down memory lane. I remember those I served with. I remember all of the patients, whose names I’ll never know, who came through my trauma room. I remember some of the most heart wrenching and difficult trauma situations that I worked during Memorial Day weekend.

I remember friends and family who have died from various causes ranging from natural causes, illness, accidents and, sadly, some by their own hand. Those are those most painful.

While I didn’t deploy to a combat zone during my time in the Army, I saw plenty during my time in the Trauma / Pedi-Trauma unit and during my time working EMS & Rescue prior to enlisting. Sometimes, I feel not deploying during the different armed conflicts that occurred during my time in the military is worse. Where I was, trauma (and on far too many occasions) death was a regular staple of my day. Then, there is the guilt.
I have since come to terms with the guilt and shame I felt over not deploying. But for years (decades, actually) I was ashamed that I didn’t go overseas during these conflicts. I felt guilty hat I survived and some of my friends didn’t. I felt burdened that I was their medic and wasn’t there for them. I felt that I didn’t do enough and wondered if I was even a real Veteran (something that I was accused of by someone at the VA hospital).

For years, I refused to talk about my service outside of saying that I served and “was just a medic”.

You may have heard of the “22”. According to statistics, 22 Veterans take their own life each day. Recent studies show that actual number is more than likely over 40. Too many I’ve served with, met and cared about are amongst those statistics. For many of those, they never we’re able to come to terms with their service and all of their experiences.

President Reagan once said “Some people live an entire lifetime and wonder if they have ever made a difference in the world. A veteran doesn’t have that problem.”

I must, however, disagree. Far too many of us that served constantly question if we really made a difference. I still do at times even to this day.

I have been quite fortunate to have found a group years ago that helped and over the past couple of years, the biggest and most positive changes in my life I can directly attribute to getting involved in my parish, my involvement with the Knights of Columbus and the rosary. The Knights have been a family to me and I’m unable to adequately express how much they have done for me and how much I have changed for the better since joining them.

So, yes, I’m not the most pleasant person to be around during this time of year. As usual, when not isolating, I’ll paint a smile on my face and keep myself busy. Then once alone, I’ll seek the solace of solitude.

To help, this weekend, I’ll be running a market with our new family business, Edwards Family Entertainment and I’ll be going to Mass on Sunday to celebrate Pentecost.
Granted, things this year is a bit different than years past. My family is scattered and won’t be getting together. We’re still facing a number of challenges as mentioned in my last post. As a family, we’re in the midst of a transition (and my lack of trust and being on edge doesn’t help).

We’re still trying to figure out what is the best situation for my parents, how are we going to handle various challenges, especially with our elderly parents and family issues. Where is it that we are called to be and is it time to move onto a new parish. Okay, that changing parish part is more my issue yet is something I’m seriously praying about and have begun a search. Personally, I think it’s time to move on.

So, I’ll focus on praying the Sorrowful Mysteries all weekend, spending time in prayer and giving thanks for my family and for all of those no longer with me, giving thanks for them having been part of my life.

But, what do I know… I’m just a simple rosary maker.