I was sixteen and I loved downhill skiing. The black diamonds, moguls, sheer drops, the whole nine yards. We had a school group in high school that would go every week in the winter, since we lived so close to the trails.
This kid used to sit on the chairlift with me sometimes. Our families were friends, and I particularly remember him because he used to yak my head off. Man could the kid talk. He was probably at least 4 years younger than me, and one of those kids that could really make you laugh.
I remember a New Year’s Eve party at their house, drinking homemade egg nog and playing cards. Him and his brothers were mischievous and were always up to something.
And, I remember the phone call this March when my parents called to tell me he had been killed in Afghanistan. He was 22.
And the funeral. A silent crowd of thousands lining the streets in the damp New England cold. Every mother offering support and secretly thanking God their own sons were safe. Every father tightening their grip on their own sons standing beside them.
As we approach the holidays, I’m thinking of the empty places at the table, the empty stockings above the fireplace, and the families who will be going through the holidays with one less laughing face beside them.
You will be in my prayers.
I won't forget.