Tag Archives: balloon release

In Honor of Mark

I never met Mark Forester, but his story affected me.

It was a year ago today that the 29-year-old was killed while trying to rescue one of his comrades who had been shot by a sniper. He didn’t make it.

I remember crying last year as I made call after call to his friends and family shortly after news of his death had come out. I had to leave the office and sit in my car while I cried for him, for his family, for the realization that a war is being fought.

Today, however, was not meant to be sad. It was meant to pay tribute to this man who gave his all, his life, to protect what he believed in.

As the balloon slipped out of my hand a tear slid down my cheek. Mark’s death was still getting to me.

He had brown hair, brown eyes. He was loved by his family. He was loved by his friends. He set an example for his comrades to follow.

He was a true patriot and he died with honor.

But as I walked away from the balloon release, from his oldest brother who stifled back tears of his own as he talked about Mark, the tears began falling down with more fervor.

Once I reached my car, my mascara was running down my cheeks. I clutched the bookmarks in my hand that had Mark’s portrait.

It seems unfair. Too sad to be real. But it is real. It’s real for his family everyday and he is just one of the many who are killed on the battlefield.

It’s been a year, but its fresh everyday that a new name comes across my desk.

Read Mark’s story >>

Happy Birthday Jakob

I did an interview yesterday with a woman who will soon be celebrating her son’s birthday for the first time without him.

Nearly a year ago, the 2-year-old boy drowned in his backyard pool. He was resuscitated, but died hours later in the hospital.

I’ve never gone through a loss like that — the worst I’ve had to go through was the death of my grandparents and I was 8 when most of them passed away.

“I miss the way he used to say, ‘Mommy,’ ” she told me. “Jakob had an amazing soul and he was a beautiful child.”

The woman said the last year has been one of the hardest for her and her family. She said through going to see a counselor, medication and journaling she lives each day.

She has two daughters that will never know Jakob, but she said she has already vowed to teach them all about their big brother.

What I found amazing, though, is the way they’ll be celebrating the upcoming anniversaries.

If I had a loss like this woman, I don’t know how I would react. What I would do or how positive I would try to be.

This woman and her family, though, are trying to make the most of the pieces of their life that remain. For the boy’s third birthday, they’ll be inviting the entire community to release balloons into the sky.

I didn’t know Jakob, but I saw the hurt in his mother’s eyes. I stared at the picture of the brown-eyed boy smiling at the camera and I felt the loss.

So this is dedicated to Jakob, Happy Birthday.