.
November 11th, 2012
12:00 PM ET

A father seeks peace in a place of war

By Moni Basu, CNN

Atlanta (CNN) - Robert Stokely fired up his computer and began a journey to a place an ocean and continent away, to a land of parched earth and dusty brush not far from the banks of the Euphrates.

Yusufiya.

It is the Iraqi town where Robert's son Mike was killed on a hot August night in 2005. A place that haunted him.

Robert showed me his Google Earth mapping ritual the first time I met him in his office in suburban Atlanta.

It was almost a year after Mike's death, and he was tortured by the thought that he might die without ever seeing where his son fell.

Now, when I meet him for lunch at a sports bar more than six years later, it is as though a great weight has been lifted.

The sorrow of losing a child, unimaginable to many of us, never withers.

Robert still wears Mike's dog tag around his neck and occasionally sleeps in his son's bedroom, frozen in time with Mike's Green Day CDs and military memorabilia.

On a shelf in the room sits a round clock that Robert bought for $4.98. He stopped it at 2:20 a.m., the time of Mike's death, and in black marker scribbled the date: August 16.

Robert still does the things that made his grief so visible to me in the aftermath of Mike's death. But Robert's voice is steadier now. He can finish most of his sentences without tears.

I know that it is because of that place - Yusufiya.

FULL STORY
Posted by
Filed under: Family • Relationships • Veterans in Focus • Who we are