I’ll be out of the loop a few days, as I recently lost someone and will be flying home for the funeral.
Those of us in this line of work tell ourselves all the time that “We knew what we were getting into.” We comfort one another with affirmations that our friends died serving this amazing country and doing something they loved. We’ll try our best to hold back tears because we know they wouldn’t want us to be sad. We will be sad.
But we will always be so, so proud.
There are days I wonder why the hell I’m doing what I’m doing. Sure, we accept a good deal of risk when we signed our names on the dotted line and put our right hands up and swore to Uphold and Defend. We accept that we will become close to a lot of wonderful people who have taken the same chance. But we didn’t know what we were getting into. We had no idea.
I’ve been lucky in that I’m alive and physically healthy after my first deployment. But in the nearly three years since I commissioned I lost four classmates, and tomorrow I go home to bury one more. These are people I knew, whose faces and voices I remember. In this most recent case, it’s an individual I absolutely idolized, who in a lot of ways is the reason I took the path I did. In a way we all expect the bad news to come–it’s a sick way to look at the world when you’re just sort of wondering who’s next and hoping at least you won’t know who they are, won’t know their families, won’t have to find out how it happened.
No, we didn’t know what we were getting into. There’s no way in hell you know what it feels like to have someone taken away in some of the cruelest ways possible until it happens. And even when it does, you’re still left to try and understand it all. You constantly wonder why and try to accept that you will probably never know.
In the mean time, a mother and father have lost their only son, two sisters lost their big brother, a small Virginia town lost a friend and local hero. So now we will come together and say Goodbye.