Last year, this was one of the first articles I tackled for American Grit. Gold Star Mother's Day. It meant a great deal to me to write that piece as I thought about one specific Gold Star mother as I wrote it. I didn't name her then, but hopefully, she'll find this as complimentary as last years, as her example has had a profound and everlasting impact on how I remember my brothers who have fallen. Her name is Linda Swanberg, her son Shane was one of my mentors when I was coming up through the Corps.Shane was killed in Ramadi in 2005, shortly after I and several other members of Combined Anti-Armor Team (CAAT) Red, Weapons Company, 3rd Battalion 7th Marines, said what would be our last goodbye, although we didn't know it at the time.A little history on Shane, he was an odd duck in the Marine Corps. He'd been in for 5 years but due to injury and a pending medical separation (as I recall, there has been a lot of head trauma since that day) I remember him telling me they gave him a choice to get out of the Marine Corps or stay in. He wanted to stay. He was a grunt. He was a fighter and he wanted to do what he had trained to do and be with his brothers in combat. He could have left the Marine Corps, probably with a pretty sweet disability compensation as well. He never had to experience the horror or the risk of going to Iraq or Afghanistan. He chose to stay. That Marine, Shane Swanberg mentored me.He was killed September 15th, 2005 in Ar Ramadi, Iraq by an indirect fire attack. He was my friend. He was my mentor. He was my brother.But this story isn't about Shane, as much as I could go on about him. It's about his mother Linda. See...Linda, like her son, became part of our small family. CAAT Red had a platoon mother. Even after Shane's death, she still supported and loved on us as a platoon. It wasn't something she was going through alone. It wasn't something we were going through alone. We had each other. Despite what we knew was difficult for her, she came and saw us the day we got home from Iraq, even though Shane was no longer with us. She hugged every single one of us as the platoon gathered around and returned the hug as one big family.We cried. We embraced. We learned that day about what family meant. Through Linda, we learned how to come out of the other side of loss with a purpose, with poise, and with strength.I can't even begin to understand or describe what it must feel like for a mother to lose a son in such a way. I'll never know, but I know that there is a way through that pain, through that suffering and through that darkness and for that I am eternally grateful.For all of the Gold Star mothers, thank you for raising up the men that lived and died as heroes, and will be remembered as legends, larger than life. Thank you for showing us how to get through, as always thank you for your courage and your love for boys you didn't raise but called your son their brother.