Saturday Morning Message: What In Nature Reminds You Most Of Your Loved One?

Author: TAPS

Good Morning,

Whether you lend a hand to a neighbor, volunteer at your favorite organization or give back to TAPS, we honor your service to others. We also acknowledge that taking care of ourselves, first and foremost, is important, if we are to be at our best when serving and supporting others. And, we recognize that having the ability to say “No!” is good self care. We can learn to find a rewarding balance in our life with our desire and dedication to give back and volunteer.  

Men at TAPS retreat


Question for the Week

April is National Volunteer Month. As we honor our fallen heroes at TAPS, we also acknowledge those survivors who give of themselves as Peer Mentors and Legacy Mentors in support of other survivors.

In what ways do you give back as a volunteer?

Thank you for your replies!

Big hugs, 

Your Online Community Team

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Responses to last week's question

What are those things in nature that remind you most of your loved one?

Sandra's backyard

From Sandra, Mother of JoshI am surrounded by nature in our backyard and it frequently reminds me of my son, Josh. We still live in the home where we raised our two sons. I can remember Josh practicing football agility drills and throwing a baseball back and forth with his daddy. I can picture the boys swimming in their small pool on a hot summer day, barbecuing on the grill, and me gardening and sunbathing. 

As I sit out here in our backyard and sip my cup of coffee, the bright sun warms my shoulders. A cool brisk breeze blows through the trees, their leaves fluttering wildly; the birds sing; and brown squirrels scurry along the fence and up the trees. Memories of my son, Josh, linger and drift lazily along the green blades of grass, winding their way around the trees and up high into the white clouds. In our backyard, amongst nature, Josh is always just a thought away.


From Don, Father of Joshua: Whenever I go to the beach or near water where there are seagulls, I am always reminded of my son, Joshua. I read the book, "Jonathan Livingston Seagull," authored by Richard Bach, when I was a young teenager and it had a profound impact on me back then.  

There always seems to be one seagull that hangs around, and seems to be checking me out as much as I am checking him out. I believe Joshua is guiding the soul of that particular seagull and I rename him Joshua L. Seagull for that moment of time we spend together. It doesn't matter who I'm with when that one seagull captures my attention, the rest of the world freezes; and it is just me and him, seemingly on the same wavelengths, as I admire his flight patterns and his endless curiosity.


From Robyn, Mother of Cole: Rainbows, especially sundogs, remind me of Cole. He was killed during that awful polar vortex in early 2019, when we experienced almost two weeks of the most frigid, gray, snow stormy weather I have ever seen. 

Cole was flown home to Michigan from Ft. Bliss during the coldest, most vicious night of that vortex. When we drove into the little town where his flag-draped box lay waiting, so he could be properly escorted and welcomed home that -23 degree morning of January 31, 2019, the snow stopped. Then, the clouds parted and the misty gray veil of snow fog lifted to reveal the most beautiful sundog over the tiny town of Plainwell - she stayed over us as the procession carried him home. 


Monarch butterfly

From Patricia, Mother of Christopher: Butterflies and purple flowers remind me of Christopher. The last Mother’s Day we had together, though spent far apart, he sent me purple flowers as a particular symbol. The butterfly, to me, symbolizes my son's beautiful completion of life and freedom found at last.


small bat in palm of hand

From Samira, Mother of Andres: My son, Andres, loved animals, any animal. He owned a few pets along the way. His friends shared that he had found a bat shortly before he died. I was given this picture of the bat that he was wanting to care for. My son was waiting to work with an animal care unit, furthering his connection and love for all animals.


From Lydia, Mother of Carl: Raccoons? Yes, the raccoon, the loveable "trash panda", reminds me of my son. 

When my son, USMC LCpl Carl Burgdorf, was stationed in California, the base had lots of local wildlife: deer, rabbits, birds, squirrels and raccoons. One night, he went outside to the smoke pit for a cigarette. While there, he noticed some trash on the ground, mostly food wrappers. Without thinking, he started to police the area. 

Unfortunately for him, a mother raccoon and her kits took offense at his diligence and started to chase him - all the way back to the barracks. 

He burst into the barracks and sprinted toward the stairs. As the Duty was yelling at him to sign back in, he responded, "Can't stop, raccoons," and then promptly face planted on the stairs. The Marine who had the duty turned around to see a group of raccoons running to the building. 

I'm not totally sure if the raccoons got into the barracks or if they were able to shut the door in time. But, anytime I see a ”trash panda,” I think of my son. And, I smile.


From Kelsey, Mother of Michael: My son was not an outdoorsy type, but he loved the rain. I've always loved it too, maybe he picked that up from me. So while everyone around me grumbles about the rain, I say it's a beautiful day and bask in memories of our times together watching it rain. 


From Charlene, Mother of DevinI have donated to plant 26 trees in the United States in Devin’s honor. He was one of my reasons for living, similar to the way trees contribute to our survival. He was always my breath of fresh air, as trees provide oxygen to sustain life on earth. He was always a free spirit blowing in the wind, soaking up the sun and releasing his beauty to the world. Every tree that survives free and is not chopped down for profit, shares my Devin’s spirit.


▶▶  We Welcome Your Comments

If you would like to send a note commenting on one or all of the responses in this week’s Saturday Morning Message, send it to and your thoughts will be passed along to each contributor. You never know how your words may touch the heart of another. 

▶▶  Send Your Favorite Song, Poem or Recipe

Each week, we publish a song, poem, or recipe that has special meaning for our survivors. If you have a favorite that you would like to share with the Saturday Morning Message community, please send it to and include a note about why it is meaningful to you. These beautiful points of connection can offer hope and inspiration to others. 


Other Items and Events of Interest

Arlington Cemetery family at headstone

Join us on Memorial Day Weekend, May 28 to 30, for our 27th Annual National Military Survivor Seminar! We will be live streaming all of our general sessions with guest speakers.

Important Note: In-person registration is still open, but we are in a waitlist situation due to COVID occupancy restrictions in the State of Virginia. 

If you have any questions, email or call our Helpline at 202.588.TAPS (8277).

Learn More and Register


▶▶  Connect With Your TAPS Family 

You can discover all the opportunities to connect with your TAPS Family on our website at the TAPS Event Calendar.

About the Saturday Morning Message

The Saturday Morning Message (SMM) is a weekly communication contributed by survivors. The primary focus of the SMM is to foster peer-based connections for support and encouragement. It is the goal of this communication to foster a safe, supportive place where we can openly share in a nonjudgmental and caring manner. Read and contribute as you are comfortable. Content submitted for the SMM is edited for space considerations and may be used in other TAPS publications. The loving family at TAPS is available to you 24 hours a day. Please call 202-588-TAPS (8277).