Letter to her son, Sgt. David Alan Ruhren.

June 2, 2005

Hi Handsome,

Garfield wants me to do a little speech about you. To tell everyone a little bit about - what a great guy you are.

I know your thinking - great - As you're putting on the famous David Alan smirk & just shrugging your shoulders

My mom is going to speak about me & given the fact she's been such a basket case these days - she's going to make this an emotional wreck. She'll have people crying in the aisles !!

But you know what Davey - it's Ok

I'll reframe from telling everyone how special you are to me & I won't mention how much I love you & I won't tell people that having you as my son - was the most amazing & the most full filling thing I have ever done in my life. I won't tell people that our relationship was such a unqie relationship that if I even tried - I couldn't describe it.

So w/that in mind - it should be ok

You would think that talking about you would be a very simple task for me to do - since bragging about you is a past time for me. After all - I've been doing it since b/4 you were born - but now - I just can't put anything down on paper.

I just don't know how to put 20yrs into 10 minutes Davey.

It's become an impossibility to me.

I don't know where to start or what they would think is important or if what I say would just be "a mother talking about her son".

So like so many other times in the past - I need your help to get me thru this.

I need you to guide me - what should I tell them?

Do I tell them that you were born on May 3rd 1984 at Potomac Hospital - right here in Woodbridge. To me that would be the place to start.

You had the face of an angle & the sole of a little man.

Do you think I should go back that far?

How about the fact that you went from laying around in your crib - to running thru the hall way & totally skipping the crawling phase - by the time you were a yr old. By then you were into everything & I had such a hard time keeping up w/you.

Should I tell them about the time where you climbed up the recliner at 2 & pulled down the small fish aquarium - when I found you - you were sitting on the floor & fish were flopping all over your lap & off your head - how I wish I had a camera that day.

I think that's where your obsession on fishing really began -but we won't tell grandpa - he thinks you got the fever from him.

What a sight you were child.

Or how many countless times I found you in your high chair during lunch - face first in your spaghetti o's - we all know how much you love to sleep davey & when you were tired - it just didn't matter where you were - out you went.

Looking back -how could I not see where your most favorite past time began - Sleeping & fishing

Oh I can't forget the girls.

If people knew that you got your 1st kiss at 2yrs of age by an older woman - A 4yr old little girl that was a neighbor of ours - can you imagine the ragging you'd get about that?

Getting girls to fall at your feet never seemed to be a problem for you.

To say which one of these things would be your favorite - well - I think it's a draw. If ever a child mastered the abilities of each & everyone of these conquest - it would be you son.

I know your thinking - MOM nobody needs to know about that - but you know what - I think they do

I think people need to know that some of your traits were with you since you were an adorable little guy & stayed w/you as you became this amazing young man.

As they say - some things Never change.

I could tell them that you were in the gifted program by the time you were in the 1st grade & all the way thru your scholastic career.

How much you loved science & history - & your constant need for knowledge. Your passion to constantly travel & explore things & places that witch you had never experience.

Everyday was like a learning experience with you. Your imagination would always take you places. The way you would just inhale information everyday from the very time you were born & stored it in the back of your mind for future conversations. Your ability to converse in adult conversations at 5-6-7 etc. that most children wouldn't have a clue about - always left me speechless.

You know - I never told you this but I was always so impressed with the way you stood your ground when ever incorrect information was given to you or in your presence.

You had the courage to stand up & correct it with the right information. No matter who it was - be it ME - your friends/family - strangers & yes - sometimes - even your teachers. Yet if you knew you were right - you stood behind your beliefs.

It took courage to do that son.

I have always had so much respect for you for sticking by your principles.

Should I tell them how you became Grandma Chris's hero at 8 by doing the Heimlich maneuver? How the 2 of you were having dinner & she started choking on something - you didn't even think twice - just got up & did the perfect Heimlich & as she puts it - saved her. She still talks about that to this day.

Then again - 10yrs later at 18 she also talks about - your high school graduation party when your little cousins were heavily armed with super soakers aimed at you - their big cousin - of course with your quick thinking - you picked up your grandmother and used her as a shield against all the water aimed your way.

The things your grandmother would allow you to do & not to mention she would do for you.

I think we should tell people what you did for Grandma Anna when she was sick & in the hospital w/chemo. We had no idea how bad grandma would get or when she would come home - if she would come home.

You had just been accepted in the ROTC program - what a major accomplishment that was for you all in its self Davey - You had worked so hard to become a part of this program & you wanted to tell grandma. The ROTC hadn't yet issued uniforms but W/a little help from your Major - a uniform would be presented to you.

You should have seen yourself - walking down those hospital hall ways - head held high - buttons on your jacket shined - pants pressed perfectly & shoes - you could see your reflection in - everything so perfect - you were so proud & so handsome.

All this so that grandma could see her 1st & oldest grandson in uniform.

The gift you gave her - Davey - it was priceless. We lost her a few months later but for those few minutes that day - she had a smile that just made the room glow - as much as she loved you & as much as she thought the world revolved around you - I don't think there ever was a time that she was prouder of you - then she was that day. She said "military was in your blood".

Little did she know - how true that comment really would become.

Davey - there is just so much to say. I keep thinking & my mind is running faster then my fingers can keep up. I'm sure there are some thing's we won't want to tell them - you know how I like to live in my bubble - so If I don't want to know - I'm sure they don't either.

We can tell people that you are definitely a GQ boy - everything about you has to be perfect. From your hair - to your clothes - to your shoes.

I've heard stories about how young teenage girls take forever to get dressed & ready for any given day - well- I can bet that you take just as long if not longer & when you put on cologne - lets just say - I know you've been in a room even hours after you've left.

I could tell people your favorite color is RED - You have a silver ZX2 sport & now a custom made motorcycle.

that you love movies like - American Pie, Mask, Dummer & Dummer, South Park, Mad TV etc.

You have a fish tank in your bed room along w/a poster of Starry nights

You love your dog Kaylia & your Iguana TJ

In your life time - there hasn't been an animal you didn't bring home at one point or another. You were forever bringing home baby birds, turtles, snakes, rabbits, etc.

When ever you left the house - I never knew what you would come home w/next. Most kids grow out of this by 12-13 Davey - but not my son - at 19 you were still finding baby turtles at our lake & just knew you had to bring it home because you felt they weren't big enough to fend for themselves.

Davey - I still have that catfish in my tank that you caught the summer b/4 you deployed - at the time - he was barely an inch & you just knew a big fish would eat it - so now he's 6 inches long & custom to a controlled environment - now I'm stuck w/him.

I can't put him back in the water because he may not make it - that would defeat the purpose of you rescuing it - but I can't keep him forever

At some point - we're going to have to find him a new home.

Most everyone already knows by now you joined the Army Nat'l guard at 17 - but

I can still tell people that were on a baseball team when you were a little guy - that you were a wrestler from middle school all the way thru high school -You were in the ROTC program & yes at some point - you - my son - were a cheerleader.

But I'll make it a point to let them know that you joined the squad to improve your social skills w/the ladies - but davey I have to tell you - I really don't think those are the skills you needed to focus on my son.

Some people may not know that you are also a member of the VFW - you joined while you deployed & although most of the members never got to meet you Davey - they were so waiting for your return & they always asked about how you were doing.

I want them to know - that you had plans of meeting them also.

You enjoyed getting there magazines.

As much as I could continue talking about all the things you have done & all the things that you like - I need to make sure to tell people who you are.

Who David Alan Ruhren is.

I need to make sure that people know that you are the most kind/loving/loyal/generous/open minded sole that was ever put on this earth.

I need people to know that you are a son, grandson, cousin, nephew, a friend & a boyfriend.

They need to know that you had so many plans w/your life - b/4 you left for Iraq you were taking EMT classes & that you planned to go to collage - that you wanted at some point to become a police officer on a swat team & maybe even a child psychologist.

That you had met this really sweet girl & who knows what the future would have brought the 2 of you.

I want everyone to know your love for people & all living things - your passion for life. How you loved to be in the wilderness & your respect for every living creature. That to you being in the open out doors - was like a form of relaxation - it gave you peace & it made you feel whole.

Family is such an important part of your world & if you considered someone a close friend - to you - you considered them family.

You watched over your cousins like they were your brothers & sisters - you adopted younger children that would be our friend's children - as if they were extended family & again - played the big brother role.

I think we should also mention that when you came home for a visit in November - you made it a point to go to London town Elementary to meet the children that had sent you cards & letters while you were in Iraq.

The faces on those children when you walked into the room - they were in such aww w/you.

Not to mention the pride you had - when you spoke w/them.

It's a memory - I won't soon forget.

You cherished your grandparents & always made it a point to never do anything that would ever disappoint them.

The thing w/that davey - there was no way you ever could - you are & always will be prince david to them - you were dubbed that the day you were born & that is the way you were treated from that moment on.

As much as you would joke around w/your aunts & uncles - you respected their presence - not always were you on the same path of thinking w/them but you did show respect. In turn - you were given respect.

You have so many of them that we can't go down the list of every experience but the memories are there & the love always will be.

Your sense of humor - the way you could always make people laugh when things weren't always going real well & how you always made people feel like they were important even if others made them feel unwanted.

You were never to busy to take the time to listen when someone needed a shoulder to lean on.

As much as you had material things - you were never a materialistic person - you weren't a person that had to have what others did - but more - the person that was always giving away your things to those who needed it more.

You are such a compassionate person - that sometimes you worried me. I always said you wore your heart on your sleeve davey & sometimes I thought someone would just take such advantage of that.

When someone would hurt your feelings - you rarely ever held a grudge. The art of forgiveness was something you had instilled in you when you were born & you just seemed to learn how to fine tune it as life went on.

People need to also know - that as much as you were so confident in front of people w/your humor & wit - I know that you worried about your future. Who & what you would eventually become. I know that you didn't have as much faith in yourself as I did but to the outside world - you never would let that be shown.

The thing w/that Davey -

Everything you touched - turned to gold - everything you did - you accomplished - when you set your mind to something - Nothing could stop you & when you did it - it was always above & beyond. There was never any compromise w/you or any normality.

Everything was from one extreme to another. You could never settle for the norm - you just don't have that in you. You always reached higher then most at your age & on the most part - you succeeded.

You were harder on yourself then you needed to be.

They say we are our own worst critics my son.

You had no idea that the man you were so desperately trying to become - this image of perfection that you were so trying to reach - Davey

You were already there.

I've always said it in the past & I'll say it again - As a mother - I gave you the basics. I tried to show you right from wrong.

You my son - you took that & some - & you just blew me away. You are the man you became because you made those choices.

I just hope now -you see that.

You accomplished more in your short time on this planet - then most people do in their entire lives.

So now I'll end this - I hope people were able to see a little bit of what a great guy you are bud & more then anything - I hope you are Ok with what I have written.

I know there is so much more to say - so many more things you have done but I only wanted people to get a glimpse of my boy.

I'm keeping the rest to myself - this way

It's still you & me bud.

But b/4 I go - there's just one more thing I need to say:

The thing I want people to know if they don't by now - more then anything - Is yes - I'm proud of Sgt Ruhren but I'm even prouder of " Davey ".

What you have heard today - is such a small part of who he is & no way could you get a true sense of his being if you have never met him.

To tell people how close we are - words can't describe - you have to have actually been there to completely understand.

All I can tell you - is - if you met Davey & got to be in his world - even for a minute - it was a once in a life time journey & if you were part of the ride - then you were one of the few privileged - if you never got to meet him - you have no idea what you missed.

I love you son