Today is Memorial Day, a day set aside to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country. As the wife of a veteran and the friend of those among the lost, this day is heavy with memory and meaning. I’m thinking especially of Will Lindsay this morning, who died serving in Afghanistan just over three years ago. Will and Derrick were on the same special forces team, and they shared two homes together before we left for Denver and medical school. He was a good, good man. And he was a brother to Derrick, bonded by war and ordinary life, and the entrance into marriage and fatherhood around the same time. Above all else, he was a family man. He delighted in his wife, Sarah, and their four daughters. At his memorial service, a teammate shared advice Will had given him when he was still fresh from training. You will be away a lot with this team, but when you are home, be completely home. Put away your phone and give your family all of you. I know Will lived that, playing blocks, board games, and Barbies on the floor for hours.
I will never forget the moment I learned of his death or the moment I told Derrick, pulled from surgery to find me and Eliza in a call room waiting. The pain was physical, and the “what-ifs” relentless. We drove to his home in shock and collapsed there in tears with Sarah and old teammates. Once again, the floor had dropped out beneath us, violently and unexpectedly, and once again, every single other thing in life shifted into what I believe must be its proper place. Derrick’s imminent test, the long hours in residency, even Eliza’s health struggles and diagnosis paled in comparison in the light of Will’s death. It carried with it a finality that stripped us raw, pulling back the illusion of control we cling to and shedding the burden of worry we attach to a million things that really don’t matter.
It brought me back to that NICU perspective, deepening what I thought I had already learned and expanding it into new channels of pain, wisdom, and gratitude. It was utter devastation, loss beyond measure, and it was also intense love. You could feel it in the hugs and see it in the tear-filled eyes around the room that night and for so many days after. We needed each other, and we knew it. It wasn’t as much a new lesson as it was a reminder that this lesson – the bursting and breaking of our hearts – is worthy of our attention, our time, and our care for each other. May I live a life worthy of Will’s sacrifice…a continual thank offering to those who have given of themselves in a million different ways. And may I be a giver myself, looking first and foremost to the cross as the guide to what true love looks like. No greater love than this…that one may lay down his life for a friend. Amen and amen.