When a child’s mother or father passes away, there’s an immense sadness over the loss, as they will never experience the joy of being in each other’s lives.
Kait Brazel has two sons, five-year-old Mylan and eight-year-old Mason, who lost their father earlier in the year. Sadly, Army Staff Sgt. Alfred “Fred” Brazel was diagnosed with stage 4 rectal cancer and died just five months later. He was 37.
Kait and her sons traveled by car from Colorado Springs, Colorado to northern Virginia so they could visit Fred’s gravesite at Arlington National Cemetery. At their dad’s grave, the boys talked to their father about their lives, the recent Halloween holiday, and going to school.
“Mylan shared with him how he had earned his uniform and belt in his fight class, and how he went to a Halloween party and won a cake,” Kait told ABC News, adding, “Mason told him how he got a trophy for his breaststroke in his swim competition. They updated him on their lives.”
Kait was struck by the connection one of her sons felt during the visit, as she explained: “We brought a blanket. Mylan said he felt like he could feel his daddy, and he wanted to take a nap with him.” She added: “He is laying there taking a nap with his dad and Mason is beside him praying. They took time together with each other and I just stood back.”
She also captured a moment on camera of Mylan hugging his dad’s headstone. “He said, ‘Wait, I have to go back and give Daddy a hug,’” she explained.
Kait said of their road trip: “We never once addressed it as a sad thing… We as a family lived and continue to live life to the fullest in every moment.”
She explained that they are handling the loss “much differently than people who get a devastating blow,” noting: “I tell them, ‘We are here as tools for God. God knew that Daddy was a really strong person, and there were some people God couldn’t reach unless he used Daddy as a tool.’”
Kait also explained that the boys’ father was an inspiration: “Fred’s mission in life was to reach people and bring them to God and just smile. There was nothing he didn’t fulfill in life because he lived his life to the fullest every single day. He fulfilled everything he needed to here on this earth. We’re just really proud of him in how he fought.”
She further explained that, “as a military family, we’ve spent so much time apart that a part of me felt like he would still come home from this deployment,” adding, “but I felt better leaving because now we know what to expect. I have spoken to a bunch of other Gold Star families and they say these visits don’t get easier, but they’ll be different each time.”
The boys’ father definitely left a lasting impression on them, as Kait noted: “Mason remembers a lot about his dad and how he raised him to be confident and very goal-oriented. He’s been teaching Mylan the same, saying to him, ‘This is how Daddy would do it.'” She continued: “He’s giving him that support that Fred offered to Mason. Mason has stepped in and filled that big brother role, but it’s all inspired by his father.”