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Tuesday, May 22, 2012

God's "Will"

One of the many things that I hope to ask the Creator one day will be, “Why do bad things happen to good people?”  I have truly been inspired this past week by a special man I barely knew – a wounded warrior, a fallen soldier, a faithful servant…a hero.  I’d like to honor and remember him today, on behalf of his incredible family and especially my friend – his sister – Annie Coffey.

The Wearden family lost one of their favorite servicemen on May 14th, 2012.  However, Will Wearden, a 33-year-old former Army infantry specialist, didn’t die at war.  He was the victim of a tragic stabbing death and died on a battlefield in his home state, which isn’t exempt from this sometimes cruel and confusing world that we live in. 

In high school, Will was Prom King, a three year football letterman, a team co-captain, and earned All-District honors twice.  Will was a devout Aggie Catholic who was a proud member of the Texas Aggie Corps of Cadets, Company L-1 and Parsons Mounted Calvary.  He loved his Aggies and the Fightin’ Texas Aggie Bonfire – Whoop!

He proudly served our country in Operation Iraqi Freedom.  He earned the Combat Infantryman’s Badge, the Army Commendation Medal and the Presidential Unit Citation for his service with the 1-6 Infantry Regiment, 1st Armored Division, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, out of Baumholder, Germany.

At the time of his heartbreaking death, he was attending Texas A&M University-Kingsville, pursuing an agriculture-related degree.  Will loved people and people loved Will.  He enjoyed the outdoors.  He was a tree climber (preferably barefoot, I hear), a skydiver, a world traveler, a horseback rider, a campfire builder and a story teller.

He dearly loved his family and his faith.  Will appreciated good Texas music and could two-step into anyone’s heart with his charm and contagious smile (chipped front tooth and all).  The choir of angels gained an incredible voice (a tenor, I believe), as he loved to sing and serenade his sisters.

I recently found out that Will had also been contemplating another type of service – the priesthood – and planned to go through the discernment process after graduation.  Being a soldier for Christ, a priest, would have been a great fit for what one of his friends called “a modern-day saint.”  Another friend said that Will’s legacy would, without a doubt, be faith and service.

As many are trying to process the sudden passing of their beloved friend…brother…son…uncle…and the horrible circumstances surrounding his death – I have seen an outpouring of love that I’ve never witnessed before.  I have watched prayers and love immerse a family at a time when their hearts are aching beyond words.  It gives me just a foretaste of the love that Christ has for each of us.

Reading the sentiments and posts on facebook as loved ones remember their perfect gentleman, their kind and funny friend, their inspiring son, brother and uncle…their true warrior – I am encouraged by the family’s amazing model of faith.  Having faith at a tumultuous time like this is a living testament of what faith really is.  It seems so much easier to believe when things are going well.

I can think of a million different emotions one might feel after losing a loved one to violence…with anger and vengeance being the first to come to mind.  But, a prime example of this family’s remarkable faith is in his sister’s simple post.  Annie writes:  To all who have asked what you can do to help – please pray for the killer, Michael Lerma.  Pray that his soul is consumed with contrition and that he comes to know and love God.  Someday, I want to meet Michael Lerma in heaven and tell him, “I forgive you.  Now, come meet my amazing brother, Will!”

When I stop wiping the tears, I will finish this story…

After we prayed the rosary last Friday night, Will’s aunt shared some of his life with all of us in attendance.  She said that Will enriched the lives of all those around him.  She recalled that Will said things to make people laugh, which she lovingly referred to as “Will-isms.”  She filled us in on some of the childhood things that made Will who he was - like the time he told his dad, “You can punish me later, but first we have a fire to put out!”

I am sad to think that Will missed the Warrior’s Weekend celebration (http://www.warriorsweekend.org/) this year in Port O’Connor, Texas.  However, as I ponder that a bit more, I realize that he did, in fact, have a homecoming.  The difference is that his family and friends on earth couldn’t see him or touch him during his arrival.  I am certain that the angels gave him a true hero’s welcome.  Can you just imagine?

Will looked so sharp wearing his military uniform in all of the photos I’ve seen.  It is with great confidence that I say he will look just as handsome in a pair of wings.  Actually, it would not surprise me in the least if there are two sets of footprints in the sand – one set belonging to the Lord as He carries Will’s family and one set belonging to Will, as he walks alongside the Lord during the times they need his presence the most.

Will’s aunt shared something else that really struck me.  She said, “For thirty three years, he was our Will.  Now…he is God’s “Will.”  While praying for answers as to why or how this could happen to someone – to Will – it seems that the only thing I can wrap my mind around is that Heaven was needing a hero.

Please watch this video if you have a few minutes (4:21 to be exact) – there’s a comforting poem that scrolls through: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LQeM3YCQh6s.  Rest in peace, Will Wearden.  Watch over your family – they love you so much – oh, so very much.

13 comments:

  1. This is beautiful! This is what should have been posted in the newspapers!!!!

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    1. Thank you so much, JD, for your compliments! You are in my thoughts and prayers as well, as I know you will miss him terribly...

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  2. There is nothing more that can be said, you said it beautifully and perfectly.

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  3. Beautiful! Heather, this made me laugh, made me cry, and made me think. I was so angry when I heard about Will's tragic death (and I won't lie... I still have those feelings), but to read what Annie wrote. WOW, I have no words, but I have a long way to go. Amazing. Heather, thank you for sharing some of Will's life. So peaceful what Will's aunt said: "For Thirty Years he was our Will.... Now he is God's Will". Just beautiful. Will will always be remembered and his family will remain in the Robles' thoughts and prayers.

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    1. Thank you for reading, Liz, and for sharing your sentiments. The family will remain in my prayers as well...

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  4. I will never think of the term 'God's Will' in the same way again. Thank you and God Bless you.

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    1. I won't either, Mary Anne...thanks for reading.

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  5. Beautiful tribute!!! I am a friend of Will's sister, Betsy. I am sorry to say that I never had the pleasure of meeting Will. It broke my heart when Betsy told me of Will's passing. The compassion and faith of the Wearden Family is amazing and has helped me to renew my own faith. I was not able to attend Will's services, but said the Rosary that Friday night for the first time in years. I felt a calm and peace I have not felt in a long time.

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    1. Thank you, Holli, for sharing your reflections. Special people can do amazing things...like encourage prayer and renew faith in those around them. I am thankful for the Wearden family for their example as well. Thanks so much for reading.

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  6. Just thinking of Will today. Thanks for your words.

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    1. Sending thoughts and prayers your way as you remember Will today...

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  7. I revisit this tribute from time to time, and the part that always strikes me the most is your description of the footprints in the sand... thanks for these wonderful words to honor my dearest friend.

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    1. I'm so glad that this tribute brings you peace when you need it most. Thank you for stopping by today. Many blessings to you...

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