A touching photograph has appeared showing two young brothers visiting their father’s grave at Arlington National Cemetery for the first time.
The heart-warming picture shows Mason and Mylan, aged eight and four, draped up in a blanket in front of the headstone of their dad, Staff Sgt Alfred Brazel, who died of cancer at the age of 37 on July 31.
Mylan can be seen lethargic in the sunshine as his older brother prays beside him and Mylan later gives the headstone a hug.
The tender moment was captured by the boys’ mother Kait, 29, of Colorado Springs, Colorado, last month.
It was the first time the youngsters had visited their father’s grave since he died of rectal cancer.
‘Mylan said he felt like he could feel his daddy, and he wanted to take a nap with him,’ Mrs Brazel told ABC News.
She added that her sons also used the visit to talk to their father about what they had been up to.
‘Mylan shared with him how he had earned his uniform and belt in his fight class, and how he went to a Halloween party and won a cake,’ she said.
‘Mason told him how he got a trophy for his breaststroke in his swim competition. They updated him on their lives.’
Kait said the boys, who are aged eight and five, have ‘not once cried’ about their father’s death.
She said: ‘I tell them, ‘We are here as tools for God. God knew that Daddy was a really strong person, and there were some people God couldn’t reach unless he used Daddy as a tool.
‘That’s how we went with it and how we justified it. That’s what we believe.’
Kait said she was tearful for the 24-hour drive to the Virginia cemetery as before she saw his headstone she felt there was still a chance he could ‘come home’.
Before they left the cemetery, Mylan went back for one last hug, grasping his arms around the gravestone. ‘He said, ‘Wait, I have to go back and give Daddy a hug,’ she said.
A YouCaring page shared earlier this year explained the military man’s story.
Fred Brazel’s mom-in-law Kathleen McElhinney set up the page and said: ‘Fred is an amazing husband to my daughter Kait & the perfect father to my grandsons Mason & Mylan. They live an extremely healthy life & are very active.’
She said the 37-year-old active duty soldier was stationed at Fort Campbell, Kentucky and was diagnosed with stage 4 rectal cancer metastasized to the liver on February 10.
She wrote: ‘He met with the specialists at Vanderbilt in Nashville where he was told he does not qualify for surgery or radiation. He will only be receiving Chemo. Chemo that he was told would not cure him but only prolong his life. Fred is going through with the Chemo treatments every other week as his doctors advised.
‘However, Kait & Fred also believe in healing your body naturally & not poisoning it further. Kait began researching everything she could about alternatives to Chemo that might assist her husband.
‘Fred received his first chemo round February 24 and will have then every other Friday the rest of his life. Kait will not accept that this is how her husband’s journey will end. She has found several alternative treatments that will either assist the chemo or will help with the side effects that come along with chemo.
‘Unfortunately Tricare will not cover these alternative treatments. They are looking at additional medical expenses far exceeding an amount that they will be able to sustain on their own for an extended period of time. On behalf of his family – we are forever grateful for any donations, prayers, positive energy or up lifting words.’