The Heart of a Lion

He was so excited about being a pilot,” his mother told me.

The pictures on her phone, one after another, scrolled slowly as she savored them. Held her finger over his face, rubbed his shoulder in the frame. Here he was last weekend, just glowing with happiness, playing with the little ones during a visit. Here he was with his dad – ALL the men in this family are big guys, happy guys. There’s the pictures at his Naval Academy graduation, him and his father, both so proud, with an arm around each other. She has his official Annapolis portrait, too.

 Joshua Kaleb Watson

He was shot five times, they told us.” Oh, dear. God.

To hear a mother say that. I had my arm around her, like moms do to other moms – especially service moms, when they are speaking the unspeakable and unthinkable about their babies.

They said he climbed over the partition and charged the shooter. Went crazy on him. And then still managed to get outside to the first responders. Tell them what he looked like, who was doing the shooting.

“Oh, ” I said. “Oh, he had the heart of a lion!”

Oh, yes. He did.

Joshua would succumb to those bullet wounds shortly thereafter at Baptist Hospital.

I would meet his parents and two brothers the next day, as they tried to find a short order funeral suit for the eldest one. They are lovely people, rightfully proud of their hero, and devastated at his loss.

This couple has raised some awesome young men. Somehow, some way, they are handling this horrific, unfathomable event with such dignity and grace, you sense where the tremendous power of determination to charge an armed terrorist sprang from.

I held Joshua’s mom tight before she left, and told her, “I want you to know, please know, we are ALL with you in this. Every one of us has you all, and your son in our hearts. Thank you for your boy.”

Their magnificent lion of a son.

God bless you, brave boy.

Thank you.

6 Responses to “The Heart of a Lion”

  1. Alice says:

    I don’t know what to say. What wonderful people, what a brave man and what a tragedy.

  2. JeffS says:

    Beautiful words for a tragic time, THS. Thank you.

  3. Erin says:

    Be thou at peace brave soldier…

  4. Syd B. says:

    I would feel less angry toward Muslims in general if there was even moderate outrage expressed by someone…anyone in their community. To me, the silence only confirms and rationalizes the feelings in my heart towards them.

  5. aelfheld says:

    God’s grace on them all.

  6. Kathy Kinsley says:

    May he rest in peace and rise in glory.

    God bless and keep him, and his family.

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