I cried this morning when I found out. Alone in my house, I cried.
I stopped blogging earlier this year when I figured that I’d said everything my estranged kids should know about the father they cast out years ago when they were children. Since then I have posted on facebook, although it is so much less satisfying than blogging.
Facebook is informative, however, sort of like wandering by a public bulletin board. When you glance over the tiny posts your friends publish, occasionally something will absolutely rivet you.
This morning while scrolling down the long list of all my friends, I lazily clicked onto the profile picture of someone whose page I hadn’t visited lately, a woman who participated in several of the running programs I directed in the past for my former running club. As a coach, I ran with her on Saturday long runs occasionally, and became friendly with her.
Her portrait showed a happy smiling woman standing next to a handsome virile man in uniform, her husband, a sergeant in the 101st Airborne Division. I ran with him a few times, doing repeats on the track whenever he accompanied his wife on program speed workouts.
She ran 400s with the other coaches and the rest of the trainees while he did his own repeats, rushing around the track at a much faster pace. Being competitive, and a better runner than most of the others in the program, I tried to run with him.
Only I couldn’t keep up. He was young, tough and strong.
Army strong. Later that year he ran the Army Ten Miler with a stress fracture and still beat my time.
This morning I looked at the picture of the winsome couple on her FB page, then glanced nonchalantly at the opening lines of recent posts on her wall. Horror instantly assailed me.
"I am sorry for your loss... ." "Your husband was... ." "Although I can’t know how you feel... ."
I knew from a post on her FB page last year that her husband had been deployed to Afghanistan. She left the area around the same time and I hadn’t seen nor heard from her her since.
The long string of posts from her friends were all dated within the last few days. With my heart pounding, I googled his name.
The search result was instantaneous. He was killed by an IED in Afghanistan on Thursday.
I knew him and had run with him, and now he was gone. I cried, yes I did, for him and for her, and for all the rest.