Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Green Pastures and Still Waters

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.


Just_because_today said...

I work with them. I sometimes have to help the surviving spouses through the benefits process. It is always difficult to pull their name and get a read notice "deceased".
It is always difficult.

Really glad to read you again

Joe the Novelist said...

Brought tears to my eyes too, just thinking about it. Life definitely is not fair.

David said...

That was horrifying news. I feel badly for his wife, family and the runners who knew him to be so fast and enviable.

Irene said...

I'm so sorry to hear this news.

Susan said...

That is awful. I am sorry.

I do miss your blogging, by the way.

nylisa said...

My heart goes out to all the military families who have to go through this.

Sunshine said...

Yes, I cry for them all.
Every Sunday morning at about 9:50 on ABC television they list "In Memorium" the service people who have been killed, and my heart cries for them and those who loved them.

Anne said...

This summer I created a program for fallen Dominican-American soldiers and finding out about their lives deeply affected me. It sounds like your stumbling on that FB page did the same.

I've missed reading your blog. Glad you're somewhat back at it, Peter.