I’ve stared at this screen, blank pages of paper, and into space a lot over the last few weeks in attempt to get something, anything, out of my brain to make sense of this. And the more I’ve stared, the more I’ve realized that there is no easy way to put to words what I’ve got running through my brain…mostly because I’m still not entirely sure what it is exactly that’s going through my brain.
I’m no stranger to deployments, to war. My Dad had several of them when I was a kid - the first memory I have of my dad is him coming home from the first Gulf War. And despite how little I was when all of that happened — I knew what was up. I knew people wouldn’t be coming home alive. Thankfully (and I do mean that in the sincerest way possible), that wasn’t the case for my Dad. I was about 4 when that happened. I’m 24 now and at almost to the precise hour Eric was killed I was at lunch with the NCO in charge of my office when I realized I’ve spent about 20 years of my life wondering if someone - my dad, a friend’s dad, a friend - would come home. And on that day, it was my turn for someone not to.
And it sucks. It sucks so much more than anything ever should. And “sucks” is just as much the best as it is the absolute most inadequate word for the situation. “Sucks” doesn’t even begin to cover it, but it’s all I’ve got. There’s no amount of “reallys” or any adjective that I can add to it that would make it anymore serious or real for me or anyone else. It just sucks.
I found out through Facebook - my other very good friend and Eric’s best friend, Tyler, told me via that stupid chat function that I hate just as much as I appreciate. Which was the best he could do considering that he was in Afghanistan too.
Eric’s services followed about 9 days later. Attending them was single-handedly the worst and most humbling and proud thing I’ve ever done. They were uniquely Eric. Complete with CDs of music he felt we all needed to listen to and a letter to all of us with things he wanted us to do — read more, work out, get out and meet people, drink liquor not beer, watch the Star Wars Trilogy (yes, Star Wars). And in typical Eric fashion, he was absolutely right about all of it. He always was smarter than the rest of us. He never held it against any of us though.
I’ve spent the last month and some odd days attempting to process it all — listening to the music he left for us, spending time with Tyler who made it home on R&R just after the services, and avoiding any and all things that have to deal with IEDs, fallen warriors or anything of the sort.
Truth be told, I’m struggling with this.
I’m angry, and I’m sad, and I’m I don’t even know what. There’s this entire emotional level that I’m dealing with and am entirely unfamiliar with. Sad isn’t the right word. Angry isn’t it either. But whatever “it” is is where I’m at and I don’t know how to talk about it. It’s just all extremely difficult to process.
I guess I’m just mostly struggling to deal with the permanence of it all. My life has always been about change: the moves, the new schools, new friends, new houses. But regardless of the change, life always went on for everyone. That didn’t happen this time.
Tyler put it best, “Little did I know this thing would be life, not the war.”
We didn’t know. We just didn’t know.