FROM THE PRAYER SHAWL MINISTRY -- Several weeks ago, Norm came home from a service at Arlington National Cemetery to tell me how moved he had been at the sight of two young women pushing strollers, visiting Section 60 (where casualties of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars are buried). He asked me if I thought the members of the Loving Hands Prayer Shawl Ministry would be interested in accompanying him to Arlington occasionally, looking for people visiting Section 60, and giving them prayer shawls. I went to Arlington with Norm several days later and approached a young woman eating her lunch in front of one of the thousands of white crosses. She told me she was visiting her best friend. I introduced myself, told her briefly about the ministry, hugged her and gave her a shawl. Following is a letter I received from her recently.
I hope you will take the time to visit the two websites cited. -- Nancy Weaver
"Thank you for including me in your prayer shawl ministry. I did not have words to thank you properly when we met at Arlington National Cemetery. I was surprised and touched, really incapable of anything more than tearing up.
I go to Section 60 every week to be with my best friend, Spc. Justin Allan Rollins . . . This prayer shawl means a lot to me because on the particular day we met, I was feeling pretty low, wanted to keep to myself and to Justin. When I saw you walking up row 8500, I said to him, "Please don't let her come over here, I just don't want to talk to anyone . . . It means a lot because your act of giving reminded me of my own promise to Rollins . . .
When you lose a loved one, it is painful and frustrating to feel, to know, that you cannot DO anything to fix it, to make it better. Justin Rollins and I were very close friends. He has many good friends and I consider him my best friend still. We went to high school together in New Hampshire. He trained for the Army infantry. . . He was deployed with the Airborne's Second Brigade in August of 2006. He was killed in action March 5, 2007.
His parents, Skip and Rhonda, older brother Jonathan, his girlfriend Brittney, and many close soldiers and countless others, including me, miss him terribly. We all love him immeasurably. I miss him because he is joie de vivre. He has such a present, alive energy and is full of good nature. He is no angel, at least he wasn't before his death. Oh, but he was so much fun. And he was loyal and if he loved you, it was unconditional love.
Soon after his death, I listed, "How I can do everything I can . . ." Things like keep in touch with his family, share stories and phrases he used, eat double cheese and pepperoni pizza, try everything and try not to be afraid, take care of myself and others. Do right, do good by Rollins. Try not to let him down. Keep him alive through my life. My shawl is important to me, so I am sharing it with others. It came with 2 prayer squares. One of them I mailed to his mother, Rhonda Rollins, with the recipient booklet and a copy of the letter. The other I shared with a member of my own family who is going through an important and difficult healing.
I'd love for you to know more about Justin Rollins. He touched my life in a way where it is a shame he did not affect more lives. He was based at Fort Bragg in North Carolina and the local paper, the Fayetteville Observer, produced a very tasteful and informative piece on March 5, 2007 called "The Last Full Measure, the Samarra 7." (www.Fayobserver.com/special/Samarra7/)
His parents organize, and the whole hometown of Newport, NH supports, an Annual Memorial Ride for the Fallen motorcycle ride to honor Justin (www.rollinsride.com)."