By Jennifer Coons
In January of 2010, my hometown (pop. 8,000) lost our first war casualty since Vietnam. The 19-year-old Marine was killed by an IED in Helmand province, Afghanistan, after being stationed there for just a month. He left behind a young wife, his parents, two siblings and my small hometown.Each June, my father and I run in the 5K that benefits a scholarship in the young man’s name. This year, as the Marine’s mother walked the race, she passed my father, sister and me as we headed into the last mile. She yelled across the bridge to my dad, with a huge smile on her face, “I see you dragged the girls out today.” In that moment I thought, how do they do this year after year? They smile, laugh, shake hands, and even host a water station in front of their house. How does this mother find joy in my father running a race with his daughters, when the race is in honor of her dead son?
The only answer I have is that she possesses a level of faith most of us lack. Faith is at the heart of advent. We must believe without science or seeing that Jesus was born of the Virgin Mary. We must have faith that there will come a day when Christ returns. We must look at this broken world and know there will be no more suffering, no more pain, and that the young Marine from my hometown will be reunited with his mother. She has that faith, in spite of heartbreaking circumstances. Shouldn’t we?
Jennifer Coons works in the Office for Advancement and when not at Mercyhurst spends time with her husband and two dogs. She looks forward to spending the Christmas season with her family and friends.