by Cindy Sheehan
Since my son Casey was killed in another illegal and immoral US war for profit based on lies, much has changed in my life.
The best change that has really brought good to my life is that I have become a grandmother five times over! I now have three grandsons and two granddaughters. Their births and lives have not been able to make up for the fact that they will never know their Uncle Casey, but I see a little of him in each one and they all know about him.
The ability to understand the depth of the tragedy our family experienced before the grandbabies were born varies with each child and their age to understand.
Jonah, the oldest is now seven and he knows that Uncle Casey was killed in war and he knows that war is “stupid” and he worries for a schoolmate who (in first grade) is already talking about joining the Army. We talk about how blind obedience to authority and unconditional love of the “red, white, and blue” needs to be questioned. He gets it and I am happy to bring my global struggle for peace with justice to this microcosm of my wonderful young family.
The second grandbaby Jovie is five and she is the one who thinks about the spiritual applications of Uncle Casey’s passing the most. One of her schoolmates (in pre-Kindergarten) tried to tell her that “heaven” was “up in the clouds,” but Jovie set her straight: “I told her that I know exactly where heaven is, it’s next to Burger City (local restaurant) where Uncle Casey lives.” She sometimes cries because she misses an uncle she never knew, because her living uncles are so much a positive part of her life.
Cohen (my son’s, son—the J-babies belong to my daughter) has a very special relationship with Uncle Casey because his dad is the one who keeps Casey’s memory alive by visual aids like photos and mementos of Casey’s life. Cohen is also a clone of Casey because he is a clone of his dad who looks more like Casey every year that passes. Andy who is now seven years older than Casey was when he was killed is my living model of how Casey (who should be celebrating his 36th birthday on May 29th) would have looked if he were allowed to live and age.
The three-year old Jackson keeps telling me that Uncle Casey will “be to life” again and that he was “eaten by monsters.” Jackson is close to the truth on that one. What is more monstrous than stealing a loved one from the warmth and love of his family and plunking him down in an evil occupation of another country to perpetuate an Imperial agenda of violent domination?
Jilly is only five-months old, but her sweet nature reminds me so much of Casey as a baby and she takes her thumb and gives everything the “thumb-hole” treatment just like Casey used to.
Jovie will come to the cemetery (which we call “Casey’s Park) with me and she not only helps me put flowers on Casey’s “Memory” (that’s what she calls “Memorials"), but she goes around and straightens flowers on other “Memories” and makes sure the baby section is taken care of. I can’t really express how her company for these occasions helps me heal from the trauma of Casey’s murder. As someone who is no longer religious, it just confirms the cycle of life for me; and our more than human need to give relevant and positive meanings to our short (and Casey’s way too short) existence.
We live in the present with an eye to a future of peace, but even my grandchildren share in the memories of their uncle who is our hero, not because he died “to keep America safe,” but because he lived a life of honor and love that is worthy to emulate.