For those of you who don't know (I've talked about it on my blog's fb page), I am taking public speaking this semester and my first speech is ceremonial. I opted to do a eulogy for Cleve since I was not strong enough to do it at his funeral. A few of you have asked me to post the speech. Since it is tomorrow, I figured I would go ahead and post it so that you guys can be there with me in spirit. It's at 9 AM central time. If you're up and want to read it with me at that time I'm sure your thoughts and energy will help me to get through it without my heart exploding.
Excuse the form it's in. It was required for class.
The Passing of a Hero
General Purpose: A eulogy for my husband.
Specific Purpose: To commemorate and remember the life of my husband, Corporal Jimmy Cleveland Kinsey II.
Thesis: Jimmy “Cleve” Kinsey was an amazing man, true American hero, and the love of my life. Today I will remember his life, celebrate his achievements, and recall the ways he touched so many in such a short amount of time.
A. Attention Getter: In July of 2007, I sat in a hospital waiting room as my 23 year old husband’s leg was being amputated. It had been a year since he was hit by a roadside bomb in Iraq and he spent that entire year fighting to keep his leg despite the fact that Drs warned him it was next to impossible. He didn’t care. He fought, and he fought hard. I waited anxiously, staring at the window looking onto the hallway, waiting to see him pushed by in his hospital bed. Finally, there he was; hazy eyed and looking around – most likely looking for me. I quickly got up and did the best “I’m so not freaking out, but I really am freaking out run/walk” I could muster. His bed turned the corner. I turned after him. As I got around it, I noticed his leg – now a nub. I lost it. I was terrified this was going to break his spirit. He had been so strong up until this point, and he needed that strength more than anything now. I finally got myself together, took a deep breath, and went back to his room. There he laid, my sweet, beautiful best friend. I sat down in the chair next to him and gently placed my hand on his. He opened his eyes and looked at me, then looked down at the bottom of the bed. He slowly took out his new leg and we looked at it together. I looked him in the eyes, and asked him if he was ok. My tears began to well again as he smiled at me and said in a slow, drug enhanced and infuriatingly smug tone, “This is nothin’…you’re such a baby...”, then wiggled his new nub in the air a little as if mocking me with it. Relief washed over me, and we both died laughing. That was just the kind of guy Cleve was. He was a man who had been through a lot but no matter what, nothing could take away his silly and typically inappropriate sense of humor. He was brave and strong willed. He fought for what he wanted, yet humbly accepted that in life, we don’t always get what we want. He never wanted people crying over what had happened to him. That day and the days that followed were not easy, but his ability to smile and laugh his way through it all is what made him so special.
II. Jimmy “Cleve” Kinsey was an amazing man, true American hero and the love of my life. Today let’s remember his life, celebrate his achievements, and recall the ways he touched so many in such a short amount of time with his humor and unconditional love.
A. An amazing man.
1. He was everyone’s best friend. People couldn’t help but love his big personality and sense of humor.
2. He loved, and loved hard. Everyone knows that once Cleve loved you, he would do anything for you. His family, friends, and I were the most important things in his life. Though the capacity to love doesn’t seem like that big of a deal, his love was. It was vast, and warm, and full, and it is so, so missed.
3. When we were in Richmond, VA for his TBI treatment Cleve met a man who had not spoken a single word since he was wounded at war a year prior. Not. One. Word. Cleve sat with him at lunch every day and talked to him about his day. He talked and talked and talked without one response. Eventually I asked him why he kept messing with the poor man. I asked him to consider the fact that he could be annoying him. He told me that he knew the man would talk eventually and he just wanted to make sure the guy knew he could talk to him when that day came. One day Cleve walked in to the lunch area and sat next to his friend and asked him how he was doing. Before Cleve could continue blabbing away as usual, the man looked up at him and responded. One word at a time, the man began telling Cleve about his day. It was one of the most amazing things I had ever seen. He not only loved his family, but he truly cared about everyone, with a particularly soft heart for his fellow wounded warriors. He always did what he could to help, even if it was simply talking or listening. Cleve’s persistence and his faith in his new friend helped that man to speak again. I like to think that wherever he is today, he remembers the stories Cleve told him during all of those lunches. I like to think that Cleve’s memory is carried on through them.
Transition: Now, Cleve was more than just your typical awesome guy…
B. Corporal Jimmy Cleveland Kinsey II, a true American hero.
1. He volunteered to be in the Marine Corps at the age of 19.
2. He did two tours to Iraq; one to Fallujah and the other to Ramadi. During each tour he watched friends get wounded and sometimes die. It wasn’t easy on him.
3. He was wounded on his second tour to Iraq losing his leg and getting severe PTSD and TBI. He received a purple heart among nine other medals for his wounds and achievements.
Transition: Last but not least…
C. He was the love of my life.
1. We met when we were thirteen years old. Our first kiss was in eighth grade on the Foley middle school football field as he was walking me home. I will cherish that memory for the rest of my life.
2. We reunited when we were 20 and eloped three months later without telling anyone. We were in love and we wanted to be together forever.
3. I will always remember the love we shared, and I feel lucky that I will be in love for the rest of my life - alone or not. My love for that goofy, loving man will never, ever fade. His smile, his eyes, his presence is forever tattooed to my heart.
A. Cleve’s time on this Earth was short but it was impactful. From loving deeply, to encouraging a fellow war hero to speak again, to simply being a symbol of strength, he left his mark – and it was big. I am proud to have known him. I am even more proud to have been loved by him.
B. Cleve was taken from us all too soon. We miss him and it’s so easy to get pulled into the darkness and sadness that we can’t help but feel in this horrific time. But… let’s try to remember how he was during tough times; how he was when his leg was amputated. He didn’t cry. Instead he chose to laugh and he took the situation on as just another challenge to be conquered. He didn’t want me crying for him then, and I promise you, he wouldn’t want us crying for him now. Instead, let’s be like him and laugh and smile at the beautiful memories we made with him. Let’s remember his big smile and his t-shirts with crazy sayings and his multi-colored all-star shoes -none of which matched…ever. Let’s remember how handsome he was in his dress blues, and his not so handsome (but oh so adorable) “Popeye” face. The good times, happiness, laughter, hugs, friendship, love, and the cutest dimple ever – that’s what he was and that’s what we should all emulate today and always– for him.
B. I love you so much, Cleve. We all do. We will always love you. Thank you for the joy you brought to our lives.