No one tells you how to plan a funeral, thankfully for me I have a really great friend who happened to have spent some time in that space during their time in the military. That is truly the only reason I had a clue, and truthfully, I was so out of it, even if I did know what to do, I don’t think I could have done alone. I never imagined being 31 and having to make decisions about the burial of my husband. It still feels unreal to me. I guess you never really expect for your husband to randomly collapse in your home and never come back, so I need to just give up on expectations.
Throughout my husbands life, there has been a consistent theme, and it didn’t get pieced all the way together until his service. Again, another thing I didn’t know how to do, but the pieces came together beautifully, and not by mistake, God was all over this. The theme throughout his life was that he was a fighter, he pushed through challenges in such a beautiful way, at least from the outside looking in. He never made his struggles overshadow anything or anyone else. He lived in constant pain, but it never once took away from me and the kids, it never once took away from his coworkers, or his extended family. Nate was so selfless it was unbelievable. He always found a way to rise up from his falls, and continue on.
Nate always found a way to ” Charlie Mike” which for those of you who don’t know, means Continue Mission in military terms. The plan for Nates life really began to show itself throughout this whole process, and that was a constant as well. Since 2014 I have been volunteering with an organization called The Mission Continues, the whole premise behind the organization is to empower veterans to continue serving after military service. Now, in true Nate fashion this sounds like something he would be all over right? Well, yes, and no, he stood behind me 100% and helped with whatever I needed, every single time, but he didn’t want the spotlight, even though this lined up directly with what he believed to be the right way, he selflessly let me have it. The thing we always at The Mission Continues, is Charlie Mike.
I asked Sgt Sosebee, a leader that Nate served with if he would speak about his time in the Army with Nate, I really wanted to give his family, and the community a broader look at who my husband was, I didn’t tell him what to say, I wanted it to be from the heart. Two things really stood out to me about what he said.
- He said that after mission Nate did 3 things, he would write his wife, work out with Hammerstone, and read his Bible.
- He said that he always remembered Nate coming over the radio and saying ” Charlie Mike.” (I cried so hard when I heard him say that, it was remarkable that in all of this without every saying a word to him about anything, that was something he remembered.
Yesterday, his headstone was placed, and as paralyzing as that was for me it was breathtakingly beautiful. As a friend said to me, ” Now you can share part of his story with the world.” He was right, this is his legacy. I felt some relief that the VA didn’t screw it up being as they called me like 8 times to clarify that he DID NOT serve in the Persian Gulf, and that I did NOT want his headstone to read Charlie & Mike. I felt like saying, “You know what, go ahead and add Whiskey Tango Foxtrot while you’re at it, because 9/10 people who called me wouldn’t have known what that meant either.
It wasn’t the relief I had expected, but it was relief nonetheless.
It became very obvious very quickly that my husband had established a theme for his life, for our life, and standing there yesterday solidified it further for me.
I will love you until the end of time, Nate. Until death do us part is a stupid phrase because you are always with me. My vows continue beyond the grave, and I vow to always fight, to always be a blessing to others, and to live my life, and teach our children to live their lives in a way that will bring honor to you.