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HEALING: selfless love

HEALING: selfless love

by Patty George

A journey toward healing.

As we hit the six-month mark of this deployment, I feel such mixed emotions.  I am so thankful to have made it this far–whole, healthy and amongst family and friends who remain strong, positive and resilient.   I am relieved to know that we have hit the turn around point so now each day is truly a day closer to my husband coming home.  I am grateful for his continued safety. 

But, while part of my heart feels this grateful sense of relief, there is a part of my heart that is so heavy with grief for others on our team who bear the grief of death.    There are 18 men and one woman from our Brigade Combat Team… our family, who won’t come home.  There are 19 families whose lives will never, ever be the same again.  We now live in a world that is sadder for the loss of these young, brave patriots.  

I have met their families–the moms, the dads, the brothers, the sisters, the wives.  I have seen their terrible grief, and I wonder how they will ever get through it.  It is the saddest, hardest most heart-wrenching thing I have ever had to do in my life–to go up to these families and say that I am so, so sorry for their loss and know those words are not enough to begin to ease their pain.  

What must it be like to lose a husband, a wife, a son, a daughter?  Mrs. Parten, the mother of LT Tyler Parten who died on 10 Sep 2009, told me it’s a piece of your soul ripped away and the grief is so deep that you can’t breathe.  What do you say to someone when she shares that with you?  I looked at her and thought, “My God, how do you get up each morning?”  But then, she shared how very proud she was of her son and how much he loved being in the Army and how important it was to him to serve his country.  She found peace in this truth about her son.  It was a small ray of light that shone through her darkness, and it gave all of us hope. 

Sometimes in the greatest moments of grief, you get a chance to see the most awesome and true selfless love.  LT Parten’s mom had a chance to meet one of the soldiers who was with her son when he died.  LT Parten had been this young 18-year-old boy’s platoon leader.  That young soldier was torn up with grief that he was alive and LT Parten was dead.  Mrs. Parten looked at that boy, she hugged him deeply and told him to live a good life.  She told him life was too short to feel guilty and that her son’s death was not his fault–not a burden he should bear.  In all her grief, she reached out to heal this boy’s heart and mind.   

Another mom, who lost her only son, was talking with me and suddenly looked at me and said, “But how are YOU?  This must be so difficult. I have to do this once, but you, you go through this month after month.”  I didn’t even know what to say.  She had just lost her only son and she was concerned about my well-being!  I know I could never be that good of a person.  Never.   I know I couldn’t because every day I ask God not to test me like that.  I remind him I couldn’t bear it.  

COMPASSION: sister's wide open heart

COMPASSION: sister's wide open heart

CHANGE: hope after war

CHANGE: hope after war