The funeral was last Thursday. Wednesday night, the team got together for dinner and to go over what was going to happen the next day. As we were discussing our plans, the mother and brother of the Soldier came down to the hotel lobby where we were at.
We changed the subject as quick as we could, because we didn't want to give them any more pain than they already had. But the mother came over to us directly and started talking to us about her son. What he had done. What he was like.
She told us that she was against the war. She had begged her son not to go into the Army. She didn't like President Bush.
But she also told us that she had always mailed her son items when he was in Afghanistan. Letters, goodies, whatever he needed. And she wanted to adopt a soldier over there, a troop who didn't have anyone back home to send him things, and she would continue mailing gifts and items to whoever needed them.
We ended up speaking with the family for hours. The mother alternately cried on someone's shoulder, or just spoke about her son. I'm not ashamed to say that I cried with her at times. A lot of us did. You can't be unaffected by grief that raw. In the end, she went upstairs with her heart a little bit lighter, and several people to whom she'll begin sending care packages.
We all got less than four hours of sleep that night. But it was worth staying up late in order to give the family a little comfort.