Did you lose a bracelet?

Hey guys!  This is a post that was requested by my dad.   I’ve posted about it on my personal Facebook page previously, and although my status was shared by several friends and family members, we were unable to locate the rightful owner.  My dad thought that also discussing it on my blog would help to reach more people (perhaps a soldier who is now overseas, etc.).  So, here’s the story….

For those who don’t know, we lost my brother SST Alex Viola in Afghanistan last year.  I posted about it here, here, and here.


Well, about a six weeks ago, my parents received a random call from a lovely woman in Hawaii.   She explained that she’d been scuba diving off of the coast of Wailea and had found one of my brother’s memorial bracelets on the floor of the ocean.

It’s a bracelet that looks like this…


She read the bracelet, realized what it was, and thought that whoever lost it might want it back, especially with the one year anniversary fast approaching.  She researched Alex, and enlisted her coworkers to help locate my parents so that the bracelet could be sent back to it’s rightful owner.  My parents now have the bracelet and have continued to stay in touch with this wonderful lady.   What a crazy way to meet someone, right??

So, our question is… did any of you lose a bracelet in Hawaii??? 

We’d really appreciate it if ya’ll would share this with anyone who might be or know the bracelet’s owner.   Thanks, y’all!  And have a very Merry Christmas!!


Art for Alex

As some of you may already know, my brother Alex lost his life in Afghanistan in November.  And I have to say that I’ve never been so grateful for this little blog as I was during that awful time.  This outlet of mine gave me a place to write about him and honor him in the only way I knew how.  And I’m convinced that this was the most therapeutic action I could’ve taken.  I wrote the majority of Alex’s Post the night we found out and I go back and read it periodically, along with the very sweet comments that people were kind enough to leave.  It helps somehow.  It makes me feel closer to him every time I read it.

I think I’ve been in some sort of avoidance/denial mode for the majority of the last few months (and probably still am to some extent). But, I’ve finally gotten to a point where I’ve been able to handle going through my stuff and the things given to me in his honor to figure out what to display.

I’m not sure if anybody has noticed, but I’ve never been one to cover our home in family photos. We have our living room photo collage, and a random wedding picture as part of our hallway collage, but that’s pretty much it. I’m one of those people who has a few select favorite personal photos that I cherish and then aside from that, I like to display things with meaning associated with them that may not be blatantly obvious to the general public. Things given to us or purchased at memorable events. Things handed down, or that remind us of someone special, etc.

I remember the first time Alex visited our house. His response was “Where’s me??”. I just laughed and told him to not take offense.  I pointed out that we barely have pictures of US displayed (meaning Joey and I). Most are of Lucas, of course. But we did have a Green Beret bear displayed for him in Lucas’s room.

The funny thing is, I would’ve loved to have displayed a shot of him somewhere.  I just never got around to getting one printed and framed (which in hindsight, is pretty sad).  I mean, it’s not like I had to grind the wood pulp to produce the photo paper or anything to make that happen.

Anyways, as I began to go through stuff over the past weeks to decide what to use, I also had to decide how I wanted to display them.  I immediately ruled out hanging everything in one place. I’m not sure I could handle that.  Emotional overload, if you ask me.  So, I decided to start with three items to display in a few subtle places.  So that we can see them often and think of him, but not have them be totally smack-you-in-your-face, tear-up-every-time-I-see-them out there.

The first item I chose, was this picture…


I took it in my parents garage in the summer of 2012. It’s my favorite picture of the two of them.  It’s the exact copy that I framed and gave to Alex for Christmas that year. It was returned to us after we lost him. I couldn’t bear to change the frame for this reason.  So, I took it as is and hung it on our hallway collage wall…


I also hung his dog tags next to his photo….


I thought about framing them as well, but simply hanging them on a nail seemed more him. More casual.  For the man who used Tupperware as furniture.  🙂

So, our frame wall looks like this now…



Lastly, I chose his rubiks cube.  It came back with him from Afghanistan. His teammate told us that Alex had found it in his barrack (is that the right term? I always get the language confused) when he first arrived in Kandahar and he played with it constantly after that. It’s the way he left it. I love it because it’s random. Just like Alex.

So, I decided to mount it in a display box of some sort.   I found this tray from a Melissa and Doug modeling clay set in Lucas’s room and decided that it was perfect…


I painted the back of the tray the same Jungle Thicket green that I painted behind Lucas’s Expedit shelves.   Then, I drilled four holes through the middle of the tray and threaded some floral wire through the rubiks cube and through the tray…


I didn’t want to glue it or do anything that might ruin the rubiks cube in case I ever wanted to change it.   I figured that Alex would be proud of the blue side that he’d completed, so I kept that side in front.  And I hung it in Lucas’s room…






For some reason, I felt like Lucas’s bedside was the best place for it. Like added protection for the little man or something. Plus, it represents Alex’s playful nature… And he sure loved playing with Lucas.


I think the rubiks cube art affects me more than even his picture does (hence the exorbitant number of pics).  I’m not sure why it has this effect.  It just reminds me of my brother so much. So anyways, I’m not promising that this will be the last art for Alex, but it’s definitely a good start.   And I hope that wherever he is, he can see it and approves.