November 2, 2006

November 2, 2006

November 2, 2006 will be a day I will never, ever forget. I can still remember exactly where I was at, driving around a big curve, in Dallas, Texas on my way to work after dropping off Bub at school when my mom called. I still feel sick to my stomach when I recall answering and hearing her sobbing and then my sister screaming uncontrollably in the background. I cannot remember the exact words she said through her tears and sobbing, but when she was able to get out his name…..I knew. I hoped for a second it was an injury, something to hang on to, but it wasn’t. It was something much more final – death.

My last photo with Luke before he left for Iraq.

When you love someone who is in the military and stationed in a war zone there is a feeling you never quite forget. The nagging, uncomfortable feeling you learn to live with every day until that person comes home, or doesn’t. I remember going to Washington, D.C. with a large group of Blue and Gold Star families during the fall of 2007. I told my dad that on one hand a felt a little jealous of the Blue Star families because their loved ones still had a chance of making it home, but that was overshadowed by my feelings of sadness for them because I knew they were still living with that nagging, uncomfortable feeling everyday. When your service member doesn’t come home you are left with a hole, a big, gaping, freaking hole that never goes away.

My favorite photo of Luke & Bub.

I avoided the news after he first left, even more than before I couldn’t bear to hear the news of another life being lost and the reality of war, it hit just too close to home. It was not that I was against what he was doing – Luke understood what he was taking on when he signed up for the Marines, it was something he had wanted to do his entire life and he was great at it. He excelled even more than we knew. You see Luke was a humble guy and until his funeral there were things we had no idea about, such as the fact that he passed every Recon training on his first try which is rare.

My beautiful sister Jes & her Lukey poo.

After all the initial shock wears down, funeral plans are made and carried out, flowers wither and the headstone is placed, a family is left with a hole. You keep moving forward  and you continue to live life, but the fact is that life is never the same and you never, ever forget. No matter how you look on the outside, your insides are changed. Each of my family members remember and embrace Luke’s life and memory in a different way and I love that. There are so many pieces of him that are so ingrained in the fabric of our family I never worry his influence will leave us.

Our last dressed up family photo before Luke deployed.

Today is a day I will never forget because of a man I had the privilege of knowing over half my life, one who I was able to call my friend and “almost brother-in-law”. He loved and respected my sister, was an honorable bonus son to my parents, a big brother to my brothers and an uncle to my son. He connected us to the Holler family and no matter what that bond will never be broken, they raised an absolutely amazing son and I know they are so very proud of the life he lived. Through him we have met some precious Marines and Navy Corpsmen who worked and fought alongside Luke and I am so thankful for them.

The Coker Holler clan.

I choose to use this day for the rest of my time here on earth, to help people see beyond a solemn photo of a handsome, blond haired, blue-eyed Recon Marine to know what a smart, funny, amazing person that he was. He was down to earth, loved God, had strong character and treated people with kindness. I want to continue to share stories about him so that his memory will live on. Remind me to tell you about the time Luke and Jes drove Bub and I back home from Dallas and the turkey froze Bub’s tarantula (Spidey II is still alive and well), and about the time Luke grabbed a guitar and made up a breakup song on the spot to convince me my boyfriend at the time was no good for me and that I deserved better (someone who loved me as much as he loved Jes is what he told me) and the time Bub cut his own bangs requiring me to shave his head and Luke told him carrots would make his hair grow, so Bub ate carrots for a week straight while wearing a hat.

Summer of 2006 when Luke taught Bub to swim – Amphibious Recon guys are the best swim instructors!

I so look forward to seeing him again one day. What an amazing family reunion that will be. Semper Fi!

Here is a video full of photos showing Luke’s personality and many of the people he loved. Enjoy!

 

In memory of Lcpl. Luke B. Holler, KIA 2 Nov 2006, Iraq

16 Comments

  1. Kassie
    Nov 2, 2012

    I love this story, the words are so raw and true you could tell just by reading this. I know life has changed for you know and it will never be the same but knowing that you have great memories of Luke reminds me that we all can make it after a death. Thank you for sharing, your story.

    • Jennifer
      Nov 2, 2012

      Thank you Kassie for your kind words. I am very thankful we have so many fun and happy memories.

  2. Jennifer, thanks for sharing Luke with us. Hugs and blessings to you as you continue to keep his memory alive.

    • Jennifer
      Nov 2, 2012

      Melanie, Thanks for reading my post. It makes me smile to know that another person knows who he was.

  3. Morena
    Nov 2, 2012

    Thank you for sharing his story with us. He is a hero and needs to be remembered. Big hugs to you….

    • Jennifer
      Nov 2, 2012

      Thank you, Morena! I cannot speak for other families who have suffered loss, but I know that for us knowing that he is remembered brings us joy and comfort.

  4. Michelle Cantu
    Nov 2, 2012

    Thanks for this story Jen, I feel like I know a little about Luke and your family. He’s not just a number but a real person who has a family who adores him. Hugs and prayers to you and your family.

    • Jennifer
      Nov 2, 2012

      Michelle – I am thankful you read my post and happy you now know about our Luke. He was one of a kind and deserves to be remembered. I love it when people can get to know the real person behind the number.

  5. Jen Covington
    Nov 2, 2012

    Thank you for sharing this. I remember Luke as a much younger man. I love hearing about the man he became.

    • Jennifer
      Nov 2, 2012

      Thank you, Jen – the funny faces he made never changed did they!

  6. Christy (Gaynor) Smith
    Nov 2, 2012

    Jen —

    Thanks for sharing your memories of Luke. Though I didn’t know him well, I always remember him as the guy that ran multiple legs of Beach 2 Bay (with a cast on his arm, no less), instead of just the one leg that each of us ran. What an amazing man, marine, athlete — I have thought of Jes often since those days, and hope that memories bring her and the rest of your family (and his, too) a comfort and peace that passes understanding.

    • Jennifer
      Nov 3, 2012

      Oh Christy – was that not the craziest B2B? I remember him worrying about being on the team on the way down there and he said “Are 5 minute miles ok?” I was thinking “Are you crazy? I will be lucky if I knock down 12 minute miles!” but just tried to assure him that the 5 minute miles would cut it ok. Thank you for sharing your memories and I will make sure Jes reads your comment too. We miss you here in Texas!

  7. Jessica
    Nov 2, 2012

    Thank you for sharing this – your words are so raw and you tell the story so well, I was crying before I got to the second paragraph. It’s a beautiful way to capture his spirit. Wishing you lots of blessings during this holiday season!

    • Jennifer
      Nov 3, 2012

      Jessica – Thanks so much for leaving me a comment, sorry I made you cry….I cried too. I do feel very blessed and honored I was able to share memories of Luke with my blogger friends.

  8. Lilliana
    Nov 3, 2012

    What a great tribute to a friend & almost family member. Prayers for him, his family and yours. Thanks for sharing.

    • Jennifer
      Nov 3, 2012

      Prayers are always appreciated Lilliana. I am so thankful for the time we had with him and all the fun memories and photos we have. Thank you for reading!