Master Corporal Anthony Klumpenhouwer
The years since I wrote the post below have brought much to this precious family. Births, graduations, and all the many celebrations that come with belonging to such a large family. But, as the days and weeks and years pass, the ache for what could have been, for one more day, never subsides. November 11th is Rememberance Day in Canada. On the 11th day of the 11th month at the 11th hour we stop and remember. As a child I sat in the packed school gymnasium while decorated soldiers spoke of sacrifice. What did that mean to a child? I would stop wherever I was at 11:00am while everything paused for a moment in and I would follow along, quieting my thoughts, fidgeting with the poppy pinned to my coat. Yet, until I observed the sacrifice in the face of a grieving loved one I could never truly internalize the cost. Never before could I picture the mommies and daddies who drop to the ground in devastation, as a uniformed man stands solemnly in their kitchen. Nor could I imagine the ache that each Christmas or birthday party will always bring - an empty seat and a void. Freedom costs... much more than even the lives of our young soldiers. It costs the very souls of many left behind. Those who live on cloaked in the weight of the loss. They will never forget - and we must always remember.
We heard the awful news last night on the way home from AWANAS. The girls told us that their friends’ brother had died in Afghanistan. Immediately my heart sank as I thought of this young man whom we had not seen for a long time. He had been a soldier for a few years now.
When I got home I looked up the news station on the Internet to see if there were any more details about him. The top story Canadian soldier dies in accident in Afghanistan. Reading that was almost surreal because I could picture the young man they were talking about. I have sat at the family’s long dinner table after church with his whole family – all thirteen brothers and sisters, a mom and a dad … and always a few guests. I remembered the new pictures hanging on the wall as you come in the door of their home. Portraits of the whole family together: a snapshot of how they have all grown together through the years. The later pictures show an ever enlarging bunch as many of the kids have married and brought children of their own into the fold.
My heart broke as I thought of them. For the media: those who watch the news or read the papers he will be another soldier killed in Afghanistan. A headline too soon forgotten, but for the family, he is a beloved son, a brother, an uncle, a cousin, and a friend. He is a face that will be missing from family pictures and a warm soul that will never sit at their table again.
My prayers and tears are with them as they begin to say goodbye to a precious piece that makes them who they are.
...they cried out to the LORD in their trouble, and he brought them out of their distress.
He stilled the storm to a whisper; the waves of the sea were hushed...He guided them to their haven.