My son’s childhood friend passed away just before Thanksgiving. Travis was only 33 years old. The boys were best friends in elementary school when we lived in Albuquerque, New Mexico. They spent a lot of time together at each other’s homes until we moved to Oklahoma when the boys were eight years old.
Travis’s grandmother, Helen, and I kept in touch these past 25 years. When she called with the news that Travis had passed away, my heart broke. We spoke for a few minutes and hung up. It can be difficult to find just the right words to say when wanting to express your heartfelt sympathy and to give comfort to someone who has experienced death in their family.
Even standing in front of the sympathy cards section, reading and trying to find the right healing words is not always easy. It just so happened I was in a gift shop and I saw a baby lamb stuffed animal with a cross on its hoof. I immediately knew I had to send it to Travis’s grandmother. In the sympathy card, I explained when she felt the need to hug Travis to hug the baby lamb for comfort.
I received an appreciation card from Helen saying she loved the precious lamb. She also said that Travis was buried as an honorary Marine. He was in the Army but assigned to a Marine unit. She also enclosed a copy of an email sent to her about Travis that I would like to share.
“We were DEEPLY moved as we heard, from his brothers-in-arms, how they were lifted by Travis’s calm willingness, under fire, to give his life for them. One brother after another testified to Travis’ highly esteemed character and their love and respect for their friend. We thought of the scripture, “No greater love…than to lay down one’s life…”.
To some it may seem strange to send a “gift” when someone dies. I don’t think so. When you send a condolence gift, you are sending comfort to help someone’s heart heal. May God bless Travis, his loving family, friends and brothers-in-arms.
A human life is a story told by God – Hans Christian Andersen