Out here it seems that death is tragic, but it is something to be “handled.” Last September one of my friend/roommate/coworker/Afghanistan family lost a close friend to war. I had only been in country for a day or two. It was like being slapped in the face by reality.
Then in December another soldier killed, another friend’s close friend lost. Then in February, Daren was killed. The moments I spent holding a weeping friend were now being returned. It was my turn. The love I outpoured was in the most literal way being given back to me. I can still remember vividly, the morning after I had attended Daren’s ramp ceremony and found out he died. I was lying in bed not sleeping, but just staring, when my roommate just walked into my area, said nothing, and climbed in my bed and held me. She was a good friend of Daren’s too. She lost him too. It was the sweetest, most selfless act of not needing or wanting anything in return, but just being there for me.
Now another friend has lost another loved one. It is painful to watch her knowing all too well that pain myself.
Sympathy is an act of kindness, empathy is an act of understanding.
Knowing how strong she is and being on the other side of it, I am certain she’ll get through it, but knowing the outcome doesn’t mean her path will be any easier. Out here we are literally thousands of miles away from all our friends and family. These are the people you desperately wish weren’t just a voice on the other side of the phone, but an arm around your back and comfort in your soul. So we form our own bonds and try our hardest to be a proxy, a stand in, a poor man’s whomever. We’ve made an Afghanistan family that is there when nothing makes sense at all.
Pain throws your heart to the ground
Love turns the whole thing around
No it won’t all go the way it should
But I know the heart of life is good
-The Heart of Life by John Mayer
To all those who we weren’t ready to have taken so soon…