The sad reality is that many military lives aren’t lost on a battlefield, or even during any military activity at all. Many are the result of the after effects these events have on them. Tristan was one of those lives.
He randomly showed up in our church community a few years ago. He was homeless and struggling, but was hoping to get back on his feet again. As it turned out, he came to us because the VA hospital is just a few blocks from our church and he was looking for a safe place to “camp out” while he tried to get the services he needed.
In the end it was truly divine intervention. Tristan was Greek Orthodox, and when he realized where he was, he knew he’d found a “home”. Our community took him in and did what we could to help him. He was loved all around because of his gentle demeanor, willing hands to help, and his loyal faith to the Church and to God.
Tristan and my oldest son became friends, and sometimes he would stay with J.D. when he needed a place to safely lay his head. Eventually he was able to live in a rental owned by another Greek family. He was working towards becoming a paramedic and was so close to finishing. However, the demons of his past military experiences just couldn’t be banished and in the end, his PTSD got the better of him.
By chance, his passing occurred within days of losing my dear Koumbara Mary (I explain the meaning of the word “koumbara” in my post here). She had baptized J.D. and passed quite suddenly from cancer. Again, it seems the divine played a key role here, because Mary was a counselor at our local Community College and assisted international students and veterans as they navigated the school system. It seemed that Mary was making sure that Tristan would be helped both here as well as the afterlife.
The loss of Tristan naturally hit my son hard, and a picture of him has a permanent place in his home. Not only that, but my baby grandson carries Tristan’s name as his middle name. He is a sweet reminder of the good man that Tristan was, as are so many of our military around the world. May we remember them all on this day. (You can read the touching obituary written about Tristan by his sister here).