Tuesday, October 19, 2010

How to Mount a Broken Heart

Its been two years and some change since my brother was killed in Afghanistan, brave soldier, hero. My dad asked the military for another copy of the medals Jason was awarded on the day he died for myself and my sister. When they arrived in the mail my heart warmed to see them. After a little while, I couldn't look at them anymore. They made me sad. The medals have sat in my spare room for months. This weekend I finally decided to mount them, a purple heart and bronze star. I didn't realize what a strange experience it would be -mounting the medals of your dead brother; a mix between a leisurely craft project and a continous series of coarse kicks in the chest, head and heart.

Step 1. Gather necessary mounting supplies.

The whole time I had this dull throbbing sensation just behind the rib cage to the left, like my actual organ the heart was being squeezed. It lasted through out the entire project with waves of overwhelming grief and pride.

Step 2. Cut black paper into 4" by 6" dimension. Place double sided wall mounting stickies on the paper in the middle.

I kept thinking about the irony. These medals are for my brother. And yet I am mounting them. He would be so goddamn proud to mount those things himself. Would he have done it this way?

Step 3. Smoosh the medal onto the stickies. Hold.

Or would he have just popped open the cases and left them on his dresser to collect dust-throwing dirty laundry on top of them. Running in and out the room from one adventure to another hardly ever giving them a second thought

Step 4. Push the medal's pin into the back of the shadow box frame.

I felt cheated and proud all at once. I felt angry at the military for putting him in the line of fire and at the same time proud that they awarded him these. His bravery earned him these and cost him his life.

Step 5. Make sure you get the award and the pin even.

And yet, I have this feeling that he is/would be so proud to have them on display. I am so proud to have them on display. How many people have purple hearts hanging in their living rooms?

Step 6. Place it in the shadow box.

So, Jas, congratulations on your awards and your courage. I never doubted you had it in you. I'll mount them for you since you can't do it yourself. I miss you every day.


Katie Gruver said...

beautiful, my dearest. Thinking of you.

Matthew Gordon said...


C Good said...

As I took it in, my breath halted many times along the way for both the Love and the Pain that showed through. You are a darling. Thank you for posting this.

Delaney Gates said...

My husband is in the Army and was deployed to Iraq for a year a handful of years ago. I happened to google something for him about a shadow box and your blog post popped up in the results. Of course, I couldn't *not* comment after reading about your brother, so I wanted to tell you that his service and sacrifice will never be forgotten. May God bless you and your family. Warm Regards, Delaney in Arkansas