A US Army soldier stationed at Fort Bragg has lost his battle with cancer, leaving behind a wife and two sons to pick up the pieces.
Joining the Army around 2014, Jack Stillman was your typical basic trainee- a young, shaven-head Private who grew into a soldier.
Husband of Alina Stillman and father to his sons Jackson and Aiden, Sergeant Stillman was based at the home of the 82nd Airborne Division when he discovered a dime-sized lump in his side in October of 2016, which turned out to be an aggressive case of Anaplastic Large T-Cell Lymphoma.
Pushing into treatment and refusing to give up on his family, Stillman fought the good fight until this weekend, when his body could no longer keep up with the strength of his heart and character.
His dear wife Alina was left to ponder on her situation and the immense loss her family has suffered.
“Survivors guilt is eating at my soul,” she wrote. “I am so sorry there wasn’t anything more I could have done for you.”
Mere days -hours, even- before his 4th full year in the US Army, Stillman was dead.
Taking some time to think about her time with Stillman, she posted a message on her Facebook page, urging spouses to appreciate their significant others while they still walk among them.
“Hold onto your loved ones,” she began.
“There is nothing that I wouldn’t do right now to give my husband one more hug, one more kiss. Rub his back. Run my fingers through his hair. Whisper in his ear & tell him how much I love him. Tell him how proud I am of the man he has become, of the strength that he empowers.
A whole day without my husband already. It has been a whole day. & already it is feeling as if it has been forever.
Yesterday when I got home, it took me 9 hours…9 hours to be able to walk into our bedroom, alone for the first time. 9 hours to step foot into that room. & as I walked in, I froze. My body was numb. I couldn’t walk anymore. It was as if my legs got cut off.
As I stood there, I looked to my left & saw a picture of him. His sweatshirt just laying there. A dresser full of his clothes that he would never wear again. To the right, more pictures of him. Of us. Our family. & then our bed. The bed that held us together. The bed he would snuggle me in. The bed he kissed me in. The bed he held me tight in. The bed he rested his head on. The bed that we shared. But now it is the bed that will never hold him again. A bed full of memories, a bed that is now much colder & half empty.
Ladies, love your husbands. Hold them a little tighter. Don’t yell at them for the dirty socks they threw on the floor, and the shirt that missed the laundry hamper & is laying right by it. I would do anything to be able to wash my husband’s clothes again.
Before you start to argue, think a little harder. Is it really worth it? Because that argument might be the last thing between you two. Tomorrow is never promised.
Cherish every moment. Never take a single second for granted. Live in love & as if there is no tomorrow.
Missing you terribly my love. My heart is broken. Yet at peace that you are free. Please watch over the boys & I. Keep giving me signs that you are here, always with us. & when my time comes, meet me at those Golden Gates with open arms & one of those amazing hugs as your lips meet mine once again.
Rest in Heaven Jack Stillman, thank you for loving me for 8 years. Your legacy will live on forever. Through your story, through our little boys. The world is a lot less bright without you in it.”
A Patriot missile repairman during his time in service, Stillman won several awards, including Iron Warrior Award, the Leadership Award, and Distinguished Honor Graduate for his September 2016 Warriors Leadership Course.
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