Does Uncle Josh Love Me?
This week my blog is being taken over by Jessica Charles. This from Jessica: I am Corporal Joshua Alexander Harton’s Big Sister. I am his sister and I protected him his whole life. That is until September 18th, 2010 when a bullet from Taliban’s rifle went through his neck, cutting his carotid artery, moving through his torso and destroying organs and finally leaving his body at the left hip and shattering his Kevlar armor. I am Josh’s sister and I need you to know that my little brother is dead and my epic life will never be the same again.
Sharing memories of a loved one to a child is a special thing. It can also be extremely difficult.
Once my son asked, “Why did Uncle Josh join the army?”. That is a normal question not just for a child to ask but for anyone.
I promised myself that I would tell my son the truth. I made that promise when I was given the news of Josh’s death. I would not hold back, I would be honest and simple but I would not lie. Uncle Josh died, he was shot, I don’t think it hurt, I don’t know the bad guy’s name.
Then a year later, ‘Why did Uncle Josh join the army?”. Well I knew why. Josh joined because he didn’t know what else to do. He enlisted because it was a job and someone had to do it, he knew he could do it well and then he could figure out the rest of his life later.
Is that what you tell a four year old, though? I didn’t think so. I told my son, “wait, I would think about it and I would get back to you.”
Then I whipped out my phone and madly texted my brother’s best friend. ‘He wants to know why Josh joined the army’.
Reply:”Because he was a loser at UPS and he wanted a better job”.
Me:”Duh, do you want me to tell Nic that?”
Reply: “Tell him because he wanted to protect his country”
Me: “I said I wouldn’t lie!!!!!”
Very long pause as we both thought on what to do.
Me: “what about this: Uncle Josh didn’t know what he wanted to be when he grew up so he joined the army while he figured it out?”
Reply: “True, not the whole truth but it works”
Whew. Well that went over well. When he is older and knows a bit more about how confusing life is, I can elaborate.
Then what about this one: “Does Uncle Josh love me?”.
First, how am I supposed to answer that without a chaos of tears. Of course he loved you, he loved you so fiercely he hated to be near you in case he tainted you. How can I explain that? How can I explain all that to someone so small and precious?
‘Yes, Uncle Josh loved you. And there is something very special about love. Love never dies. When Josh and I were growing up we loved each other so much. We watched out for each other and we protected each other. And when I became a Mommy and he became an Uncle we took the love we started when we were little and we shared it with you. We both love you. The love grew. And now that you are a big brother, that same love, from Mommy to Uncle Josh, is now growing from You to your Sister. Isn’t that wonderful? So no matter what, no matter how much it hurts when someone we love dies, the love they had for us and the love we have for them never dies.”