Lynn | American-Hero | Tuesday, November 23rd, 2010

I miss Rhys the most this time of year. It’s not because of all the holiday fuss or because it’s the anniversary of his death. I miss him most in November because it is the same month that I saw my son for the very last time. Rhys came home on leave in November, 2006. We had an early Thanksgiving dinner because he was scheduled to leave again before that day. I didn’t see enough of him of course, because he was still a newlywed, just past the 1st anniversary of his marriage to Stephanie.

Rhys’ leave was extended because the day after Rhys left Iraq to fly home one of his team members was killed. Rhys was the only member of the unit home on leave and he had already served on the Honor Detail at Riverside National Cemetery. Rhys was asked to participate in the honor guard detail for his teammate and friend, SSGT Rudy Salcido.

Rhys discussed it with his Dad. I knew he was doing the detail but I did not discuss all the ramifications of his undertaking that assignment. There are some things a son just doesn’t discuss with his mom.

Looking back I wish I had paid more attention; more attention to what Rhys was feeling, more attention to someone else’s loss. On the other hand, it may have made me more fearful for Rhys when he returned to duty. War is an ugly thing, and for a mom with a son on active duty, sometimes ignorance is bliss.

But now I look back to try to remember everything we said. I look carefully at the photo taken of Michael, Rhys, and me trying to find some clue, something I never saw before. I strain my eyes and ears wishing that I could see and hear Rhys speaking to me from the picture. I know it’s crazy, but couldn’t I just recapture that moment in time once more? I want to hear Rhys laugh. I want to see that big grin, not in just a picture, but face to face. Rhys overflowed with joy. That is what I miss so much.

Would we have done anything differently if we had know it was the last time we would see Rhys? What did we do that day? We told him we loved him and missed him and couldn’t wait for the end of his deployment. He told us he loved us. I guess that is the best thing to do in all situations. Tell your family you love them as often as you can. No, we would not have done it any differently. Everything that needed to be said, had been said. Strip away everything else and an expression of love is all that is really needed.

Rhys Klasno - American Hero

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