Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Mourning Micheal

I never met Micheal Phillips. I never met his mother, his father, his two brothers or sister. I know his nickname was Pokey, but I can never really think of him by that name. It is for those who knew his smile, but not from a picture; for those who saw for themselves the light that even now I can see in his sparkling eyes.

To my great regret, he died before I even knew he existed. On February 24th, 2008, Micheal was killed in action in Iraq. He was a proud young man, a proud Marine who chose to serve his country. He was also a much loved son, a much loved brother.

About six month's after his death, his mother began to write about him on a blog called Knottie's Niche. She quickly began reaching beyond writing her own blog to reading and touching others in the military. She lost one precious son, and has gained many others. She has become a voiceMuch as we here in Israel adopt soldiers, Angelia has become the adopted mother to whole units.

At some point, she began leaving supportive comments on my blog. It was very early in Elie's service and I was distracted until a friend told me to look at Angelia's blog. I did. And that was when I first learned about Micheal, his death, and the family that will always miss him.

It was very hard for me to continue writing about my son...each of my sons...serving in the army and, for Elie and Shmulik, returning to civilian life, getting married, etc. No one can be frozen in time. The hardest part of bereavement, I think, is that life is always measured in the before and after and, in some cases, the line between them is a split second. More than once, I have thought of Angelia as I wrote something and at the worst of times, when Elie was sent to war, Angelia reached out and offered prayers and comfort.

I don't know if I'll ever get to Oklahoma. I don't know if Angelia will ever come to Israel. We live in two different worlds in so many ways. But in this strange world of cyber communication, I consider her a friend, a sister. We are the mothers of soldiers and there are not many harder things to be in life. I learned from Angelia that there are blessings in having your enemies live on your borders (and even, as we see almost daily in Israel, within your borders). It means that your son is close too.

Today, I mourn Micheal Phillips, Pokey to those who knew him and loved him. He was a beautiful young man with eyes that smiled from the depths of his soul. It has to make a difference in this world, that there are young men like Micheal, who step forward to fight for their country, for freedom, for the greater good of others.

May his memory be blessed and may God bless the soldiers of the United States who guard the borders of America, even from afar.

And to Angelia and her family - may you find comfort in the memory of the amazing son you raised, in all your children, and in the amazing work you have done over the years for so many of Micheal's brothers. In Judaism, we often wish bereaved families the simplest of blessings - may you know no more sorrow.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

How terribly sad, and so moving.....Jan

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