Sons of Late Army Sergeant Lay in Front of His Grave on Blankets in Heartbreaking Photos
Mylan and Mason Brazel shared a special moment with their father when they visited his Virginia grave last month.
Just months after losing their father to cancer in July, Mason, 8, and Mylan, 5, visited his grave at Arlington National Cemetery and spent time with the late Army staff sergeant in the same way they did when he was alive.
“They laid down and chatted with him and shared what was going on in their lives,” Kait Brazel, the boys’ mother, tells PEOPLE. “Then Mylan said that he could feel him and that he wanted to take a nap with him.”
And so he did. The boys pulled out a blanket and lay in front of the grave, with Mylan taking a nap and Mason saying a prayer in front of the gravestone, Kait says — “They’re a lot stronger than me,” she says of the boys. “They’re just really remarkable kids.”
Army Staff Sgt. Fred Brazel died of stage four rectal cancer on July 31, just five months after he was diagnosed. The family, of Colorado Springs, Colorado, hadn’t been to Fred’s grave since he was buried. But decided to take a road trip to visit the grave site as Thanksgiving Day approached.
“On the drive there, they were drawing pictures to show him and in the pictures he’s an angle,” Kait tells PEOPLE. “He’s in heaven watching down on them playing outside and doing all the normal stuff they would be doing if he were still here.”
Photos of the visit show the boys laying side-by-side on a blanket at Fred’s grave. In another shot, little Mylan is shown hugging the headstone.
“I’ve been shocked by the way my children have reacted since the day that my husband got sick,” Kait says. Their reactions at the grave site were no different. I’m like a total emotional wreck and so I do need a lot of strength from them because my children are really resilient.”
Kait tells PEOPLE that little Mylan had always enjoyed napping with his dad, and loved picking flowers for people.
“When we got to [Fred’s] grave, Mylan actually went and picked some grass that was near the tree by his casket,” she says. “He laid it in front of his headstone.”
Kait says she and Fred never wanted to shield their kids from the illness, so they accompanied their parents to every doctor’s appointment as Fred grew sicker.
“He died on top of a mountain in my arms and he could hear my children playing,” she says of Fred’s death, noting that the children were nearby.
However, she says she will be open and honest with them about their father’s life and death if the boys have questions when they are older. And she vowed to live as though Fred is still alive.
“He was an amazing father,” she tells PEOPLE. “You would just see him with Mason and Mylan and your heart would just overfill with joy. Sometimes I would watch him play with them and I would just start crying because you could genuinely tell that he was an involved father who cared.”
She adds: “That was probably my favorite thing, how much of a dedicated father he was.”