Being in another country cuts you off from the usual festivities of Memorial Day, but on Monday night, the 25th, as I was falling asleep, I thought about Mark Stratton, a friend from Stafford Baptist, in Afghanistan and started laughing out loud in bed, (Colby hates it when I do this) thinking about a funny Mark memory. On Tuesday, we got up and started on our mile-long to-do list to get ready for a volunteer group of 13 people who were arriving the next day. I knew something was not right when Colby, looking pale, told me he needed to talk to me about something and sat me down on the couch. Mark had been killed in Afghanistan. We sat on the couch for a good two hours, passing through each of the stages of loss…shock, grief, anger…Later that night, we watched numbly as Darcy opened her birthday presents, still trying to process the news.
It was the first time that I felt really isolated here–really far away from our church family. I wanted so badly to be there on Sunday morning when everyone came together to grieve as a church body. I wanted to be there to give his wife, Jennifer, a hug and mourn with her. At the end of the day, Colby and I had our own little memorial service, sharing our favorite Mark memories. Colby kept saying, “There is just nothing bad you can say about the guy.” Mark was incredibly positive, an amazing father of three, patriotic to the core, and a passionate follower of Jesus. Our prayers go out to our church family, for the funeral today, and for Jennifer and the kids. We wish we could be together with you during this difficult time.