When you can’t run, you crawl. And when you can’t crawl, when you can’t do that, you…You find someone to carry you.
I sit and stare off into the day, my eyes are blinking back tears. I’m having a hard time breathing properly right now and thinking of anything at all hurts. Wave upon wave of pain washes over me. The pain of the family, the pain of the friends, the pain of the coworkers and buddies, the pain of the bosses, and even my own pain. The eyes around me are shell shocked and haunted. How could this happen, again, so soon?
Life may be fragile, but we’re supposed to be safe here. This is a non-combat zone. We don’t deploy. You’re supposed to come here, do your time, sight see, work long hours, and go to a location of your choosing afterward. It’s hard because you’re far from friends and family, isolated from civilians, and on a tough work schedule. But dying is not something you’re supposed to worry about.
The door to his room is blocked by flower arrangements. Notes cover the door itself, promising to remember, asking him to watch over them, telling him that he is missed. Today, they laughed quietly, played video games, looked for something, anything to tease others about. Last night, they gave him his final salute as they put him on a plane home. Tomorrow he will receive his final guardmount, his farewell. Last night there were tears, tomorrow there will be more. Today is just a brief respite from the grief and insanity that is around them.
We cannot make it alone. Each one of us has to support the other. The troops watch out for each other, make the ones taking it harder stick around. The officer’s – both commissioned and noncommissioned have their eyes on everyone. They cajole, harass, and give directives to take care of their guys. The wives stand behind their husbands, hug them tight behind closed doors, and try to save their tears for later. For me the most comfort is in the presence of the troops – their antics and laughter lift me from dwelling on the death. And so we come full circle, linked together by tragedy.
How much more can we take? I don’t know the answer to that, but I will say that even if none of us can run, we’ll all crawl together.