My friend’s son made this for school, and it makes me cry like a babe.

Not long ago hearing the words “hero” with my name made me want to vomit. Does the person know I believed I deserved to die? That I believed I wasn’t good enough for anyone? That the fearless warrior in combat was now fearful as a default? I’m no hero, I thought. Just a cripple seeing threats everywhere because everything reduces down to the absolute terror lying on the ground after the IED blast.

These beliefs are unfortunately normal processes in response to what I’ve been through. And that isn’t what I am now. I’ve learned and changed so much; everything is different. The point of life is to love and connect. Everything else is an avenue allowing us to do so.

To have a child pure of heart poignantly point out how my struggles and openness help other people…It’s a soft hug. A reminder that despite being disabled, I have value. Enough for an 8 year old to see it. His innate love and kindness are a reminder that connection is how we get through this life. And when you can fill someone’s heart, that is heroism.

Anyone can give this gift. Please go out in your day and seek the moments when you can fill someone’s heart. We all need it.

And to my little buddy: thank you for the reminder. You are my hero.

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