I was saddened to discover some terrible news Saturday morning. Driving home from VA as fast as I could, half the time I was blinded by my own tears. I rolled the windows down, wanting to feel the wind. I felt like this was the only way I wouldn’t asphyxiate on the sadness thickening the air within my truck. I had to explain to my 11-year-old why I was crying. My only thought was that I needed to get to Big D. I needed to be there for him.
We lost a really good Marine and friend the other night.
It sounds so unreal, to read that sentence and know that it is true. I won’t wake up tomorrow and hear differently. This is not a bad dream (though it feels like a nightmare). That hole in my heart will still be there. I will still look into the faces of his fellow Marines and brothers, and know they have been changed forever.
Death is permanent, and in this case, terrifyingly permanent. There are no take-backs here. No rewinding the clock. Though we all wish we could go back in time to a moment that may have been pivotal in turning this around.
He was very much loved, as he loved those in our tight-knit group of friends. They were all brothers. They fought and disagreed, joked around and teased. They saw each other every day at work, spent time in the gym together. They trained and deployed together. They were as close to family as it gets in this lifestyle. He was a big part of that.
To think about all of the lives he has touched, how we all loved him, it saddens me. I think about how this affects all of them. How Big D made the calls and broke the news to the pack. How his sister bore the burden of telling her family the heart-breaking news. How parents should not have to bury their own kids.
There are moments where I feel numb.
Then I remember something about him. I see a picture posted on Facebook and there is a pain in my chest that makes me take a breath. I hurt because they hurt. I hurt because he is gone. I hurt because he had so much more life to live. With us.
There won’t be any new memories made with him. He won’t celebrate life with us. He won’t attend any of our kids’ birthday parties. He won’t be around to eat cake pops and jokingly complain about how the kids once stained his carpet with the red velvet ones. We won’t hear him laugh anymore, or exchange banter with the guys. He won’t tell me I’m making him fat with desserts and such. We won’t see him with his girlfriend and a lifetime ahead of them. Smiling. Happy.
Was he happy underneath it all?
Will he ever know how much he is loved? How much he is missed? How badly everyone is hurting? Can he hear our thoughts? Prayers? Is he watching over us? Will we see him again?
The pack is hurting, but in all of this I think they realized one thing if they didn’t realize this before: brotherly love runs deep. The pain of seeing a grown man hurting is unbearable. They have had their fair share of grieving for the fallen during combat, but nothing ever came this close. It was imperative to round them up on Saturday evening so that they could grieve together in the only manner acceptable: to drink in his honor and share the stories they had of him.
Later that night, they were out there on the porch, laughing and telling funny stories about their brother. Reminiscing. Keeping his memory alive. Tears were choked back, cries were silenced, merely escaping under their breath. They lamented his absence, troubled in heart, but kept at it.
If they could bring him back to life that way, they damn sure tried.
|Man’s best friend|