CHICAGO (CBS) — This Thanksgiving ushered in a painful first for the family of fallen U.S. Army Specialist Michael Isaiah Nance.
There will be no call, no text, no hug.
The South Side native was killed in Afghanistan. His mother wants to keep his memory alive, and we plan to help her. CBS 2’s Jermont Terry paid them a visit on Thursday.
As the family gathered for fellowship and thanks, you will find Shawn Gregoire at the dining room table, looking off in the distance. Her mind was reflecting on the one family member not in the room – her son.
“Thanksgiving is my son’s actual favorite holiday,” Gregoire said.
The last time Nance was home for Thanksgiving was in 2017. That year, he and his mother took time to serve veterans food.
“I’m just so grateful. I’m grateful for all the years that I’ve had with him,” Gregoire said.
A few weeks after blowing out the candles for his 24th birthday, Nance died while serving overseas in Afghanistan. The South Side native received a fitting funeral back in August.
“We just wanted to make sure that we remember him,” his mother said.
And on the day our country pauses to say thanks, Gregoire said, “Everybody should stop and be thankful and grateful for everything that they have; everyone that’s in their lives.”
Gregoire can only cherish the memories, including the final trip she and Nance took before his deployment.
“(I said), ‘If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you want to go?’ and he said, ‘The Catacombs,’ and that’s in Paris, and I said, ‘OK, I’ll make it happen,’” Gregoire said. And she did.
Nance’s mother keeps in touch with his platoon.
“When they come back from deployment, I will be there when they get off that plane,” Gregoire said.
And she’s thankful to have family surrounding her. But she wants people to understand the sacrifices her son made.
“Speaking of the ultimate sacrifice, my son made the ultimate sacrifice because he wanted to serve. And I think that we as people need to remember that we sleep well at night because of them,” Gregoire said.
Nance’s mother said she woke up wondering how she could continue to keep his memory alive. When we reached out to see how the family was doing on this holiday, she broke down in tears – because she was just thankful for a simple call.