On July 9, 2011, I said, “I take you, my beloved Jerry, to be my husband. To live with you and laugh with you. To stand by your side and sleep in your arms. To be joy to your heart and food to your soul. To bring out the best in you always; and for you, to be the most that I can be. To laugh with you in good times; to struggle with you in bad. To solace you when you are downhearted. To wipe your tears with my hands. To comfort you with my body, to mirror you with my soul, until we grow old, and still loving each other gladly and sweetly, our lives shall come to an end.”

I never imagined it would end only 37 months later. The words I said that day run through my head so often it feels like it was just yesterday. Here it is almost five years later and on Memorial Day, this is what I will be thinking about while I enjoy my children and all of the blessings in my life. I will not be thinking about my husband’s flag-draped casket. I will not even be thinking about his valorous award or the legacy of his service. I will be thinking about the man that was my best friend, the man that held my hand and wiped away my tears, the man that taught me about simply enjoying life and taught me unconditional love…eternal love. Love that has no beginning and no end.

I know the meaning and history of Memorial Day and I am eternally grateful to all who have made the ultimate sacrifice and who risk that daily to protect our country. I hope that though everyone feels gratitude in their heart in a bittersweet way, thinking of the cost of our freedom and safety, that we will live tomorrow the way my husband lived: smiling, laughing, playing, dreaming, hugging and feeling really alive. I don’t need to look at his service record to be inspired by him. I just think about how he lived day to day and how honored I am to have been his wife. I am grateful for the man he was on the inside, for his heart and his soul, and I will be until I grow old, and still loving him gladly and sweetly, my life shall come to an end. Until then, I will live every day trying to imitate his example through my life.

Living and loving,

Nikola Rosa