Afghan Dispatch #17: Epilogue (Originally Sent on October 30th, 2012)

I’ve been told that I’ve forgotten how to cry.  Today, I remembered
how.  I’m in Hawaii for a memorial service honoring Scott, Richie, and
Buck.  My command recognized the need for me to attend the ceremony,
so they bought me plane tickets and paid for all my other expenses
involved in coming here. After being home in Okinawa for two months,
I’ve come to Kaneohe Bay for some closure.

I worried about what I was gonna say to Scott’s wife.  I worried about
what I would say to Buck and Richie’s parents.  I still don’t know if
what I said was right.  I do know it can never be enough.

The last night, as members of the team began arriving in Hawaii, we
met at one of the local Marine’s houses for a cook out.  I drove to
Waikiki and picked up Richie’s mom, aunt, and little brother so they
could participate.  For Richie’s family, having a good party and
remembering their son, nephew, and brother seemed to be what they
needed.

I didn’t see Scott’s wife until after the ceremony.  Dressed in black,
blond hair blowing in the bay breeze as she cried over her husband’s
boots, my heart broke as I watched her sob.  Waiting until she’d
walked back to the bleachers, I approached her, hugged her, and told
her the only thing I could think of: “My wife and I pray for you EVERY
DAY.”

Due to some complications, including Hurricane Sandy, Buck’s family
was unable to make it from New York.  I just got off the phone with
his mother.  I’ve been scared to call her for the last two months.  I
had told her I would bring her son home safely.  God had different
plans for the man.  I told Marina that despite what she’d read in his
letters about being scared, her son was one of the bravest men I knew.
 I told her it was important that she knew that I remembered him that
way.

Other than attending the ceremony, I was looking forward to see the
remaining members of the team, and how they’ve held up since we
returned.  Some are doing great, some not so great.  All of them were
happy us Oki guys were able to make it.  Instead of being greeted with
professionally formal greetings when I showed up, I was greeted with
hugs and smiles.  I much prefer the hugs and smiles.

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