Kindness of friends, once strangers

On Saturday Aug. 7, 2021, Richard and Lauri Leirdahl drove down from Elma “on behalf of a grateful nation” bringing a “Quilt of Valor” to honor my military service.

It was a very personal, yet humbling, experience because Richard is an Iraq war veteran and he, like so many others, deserve this honor far more than myself. In fact, Lauri is actively working with the Stars & Stripes Quilts of Valor and has already made one for Richard.

With these two came a special friend named Samual, similar in some ways like the one in the Bible: chosen to be set apart. Especially for Richard to be a help for him.

After the ceremony, we stood on my porch getting acquainted. No one but me noticed the gentle kiss Samual placed on my right hand. Something deep inside me shifted with that special act of trust and acceptance, like a message straight from God.

An act of love and a mending of shards of brokenness from childhood began in this old earthen vessel and memories of mangled remains in body bags. And though Samual is less than half my length and closer to the ground, I’ve learned that we can’t determine the tallness of an individual by his height because Samual is Richard’s service dog, keeping him in current time and place with a blessed assurance that he’s still safe.

There are more at their home like Samual and I’m wondering if they too will be trained to help combat soldiers like Richard or will they remain the Lierdahl band of brothers!

Linda Schaeffer