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"I could finally grieve in a way I had never allowed myself before"

by Susan Lusk - May 25, 2006

Letter from Susan Lusk, Gold Star Mother of Capt. Joe F. Lusk (lost in service January 21, 2005 in Kuwait)

My name is Susan and I am a Gold Star mother.

My son, Captain Joe F. Lusk II, was killed on January 21, 2005 when his Apache helicopter crashed during a routine training mission in Kuwait.  Joe was only ten days into his deployment when this tragedy occurred and our lives were forever changed. The last year and a half has been extremely difficult.  Only those who have experienced the loss of a child, particularly during wartime, can fully grasp the pain and helplessness that follows the words, "We regret to inform you..."

The journey of grief I have been on the past year and a half has been painful and often lonely even with the support of family, friends and community.  The fact of the matter is that life goes on and we are expected to do the same. People, however close and however well meaning, are often uncomfortable with my continued tears or with Joey\\\'s memory being injected into conversation.  It for this reason that I am incredibly grateful to the people involved in "Stories of Service."

This program brings Gold Star families together with caring and compassionate adult mentors and high school students and provides us a safe place in which to talk about our child and to share his/her story with you.

These volunteers gave their time and their patience and their expertise to help me produce my story thus allowing those who knew Joey to savor precious memories and giving those who did not know him a glimpse into who he was, who he hoped to be, and why he is so special to all of us who love him. I thank all these volunteers for their gift to me.

I invite all of you to view Joey's story and the stories of other young men and women who gave their lives in service to our country and to those who do not enjoy the freedoms we take for granted.  I challenge you to seek out a Gold Star family and thank them for the sacrifice they have made and continue to make as they struggle with the loss of their loved one.  If you are a Gold Star family member, I encourage you to consider seeking out "Stories of Service" and allowing them to help you the way they helped me.

It was not easy to go through the process of preparing Joey's story.  It meant I had to examine memories often suppressed for fear of being overwhelmed by emotion and tears.  It meant looking through a myriad of pictures that often brought me "to my knees" in both a metaphorical and a physical sense.  It meant sifting through the wonder that was Joey's life and choosing those moments that would bring him alive again for friends and strangers alike.  But it also meant that I could finally grieve in a way I have never allowed myself before and I have come out on the other side more aware than ever of what a wonderful gift my son is.

Thank you to all of the people at "Stories of Service" for helping me to tell Joey\'s story and thank you to all of you who read this letter and see Joey\'s story.  It is through them and you that his memory will be kept alive and the sacrifice he - and his family - made will never be forgotten.

With love and appreciation,

Susan F. Lusk, Gold Star Mom
Reedley, California

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