The Fallen Soldier

I finished writing Journal No. 26 just yesterday, thanking and praising God for another year to enjoy His precious gift of writing.

Last night before sleep overtook me, I spent time reflecting on how sobering that gift can be when it is used to tell of loss.

While I was on duty at The Press last night, our reporting staff covered the homecoming of a local fallen hero, Nick Roush, who was killed in action last Sunday in Afghanistan. The flight bearing his body landed in Grand Rapids last night amidst a gray and windy misting rain.

Family, friends and curious, supportive community members lined the runway, many bearing messages of thanks and remembrance as the U.S. Army escort lowered his coffin from the plane.

I saw via the MLive photos and videos how his girlfriend's legs gave way beneath her and her body doubled in sobs. A former youth pastor from her church lovingly stood behind her, holding her up, supporting the weight of her immense grief. The look on her face said everything with no words.

The soldier's mother clung to the casket as it was lowered, gripping it as if the very act of holding tightly could bring him back. His tall, proud father -- the only steady figure on the scene -- stood upright beside her, gently soothing her as she wouldn't -- couldn't -- let go.

As flags and mementos borne by strangers waved in the breeze, the whole city watched, gratefully, yet almost intrusively, as the fallen hero made his way back home to Middleville.

What right have we -- have I -- I wondered last night, to watch this tender, bleeding moment from the sidelines? Why do we care about a soldier we never knew existed before word of his death reached our ears?

What right have my eyes to fill as I see the footage and read his story?

I want to let those tears belong to his family, his boyhood friends, his former future wife -- to the ones whose relationship and kinship to him earned them the right to cry. The right to scream. The right to question.

But I can't. Even now, tears fill my eyes as I write.

I didn't know him. But I know who he was.

He was a brother -- a fellow human -- a brave soldier -- a tenderhearted lover -- a son -- a fighter -- a man made in God's image -- a born again son of the King.

In a way, he was Everyman. And the reason I cry -- the reason we all cry -- is because we recognize deep within our souls (even those of us who deny the soul's existence) that he wasn't supposed to die.

He was supposed to live forever. He was supposed to head endlessly toward the horizon, enjoying the view the whole way, and always coming out a victor.

And because it didn't happen that way, each of us wonder who else of us could die tomorrow. Could it be me? Or my loved one?

I see in this Everyman's death the grief of the ages -- a culmination of every hurting mother, father, brother and sister who has loved so deeply and lost too quickly.

I see the heartbreaking evidence of the moment death entered the world -- that moment thousands of years ago when nothing ending forever became forever ending now, and blackness gripped the Earth.

Since that day in that Garden with those people, Everyman has been dying daily and we've all felt it.

Nothing, nothing, nothing could stop it.

Until ... Second Adam came.

He lived, bound up in an Everyman body like ours, feeling the forever ending now tears and heartache. But He had a precious secret to share, and he shared it in red, elevated on a hill, blackening the sky, not kept in by a stone, re-clothed in white, victorious over Death.

Fallen hero Everyman? No. Nick Roush, child of Second Adam, son of the King ... his body isn't in that casket, dear mother.

It's with his Savior, Second Adam, Everyman's Redeemer.

He's where forever never ends. Let the world cry only for joy!

You may also like


Pam Elmore said...

Wow... beautiful. Thank you for this, Rachel!

Rachel E. Watson said...

Thanks for reading, Pam! It's good to know the fallen soldier will rise again, isn't it?