Pfc Shane M. Reifert

Pfc Shane M. Reifert
Shane during a sweep of the Shuryak Valley, approximately 3 weeks before he was killed. Photo Credit: PFC Sean Stromback

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Shopping for the Unexpected; Screaming when Alone

Today I went to the mall with my father. We were going suit shopping. Normally, I love going to the mall, swiping my charge, and carrying home bags. But today was very different. We were buying a suit for Shane's upcoming funeral. 

The first salesperson we encountered was a flit of a girl. Younger than I am and "not my style," as my dad noted. She wouldn't take his measurements, didn't know how long alterations would take. So we moved on to the next store. 

Click "read more" for the rest of my mall encounter and my conversation with Grandpa and Grandma.


As we approached the next suit department, my dad said, "I think that's the man you're looking for," and he was. Ed was old school salesman. In his 60s, in a suit, and knew what he was doing. He had my father in a suit that fit perfectly within minutes, somehow finding one that needed no alterations. We picked out shirts, and then it came time to pick out ties. 

Shane was pretty stylin' and I like to attribute part of that to myself. Shane always had a knack for sticking me with the bill after picking out jackets, hats, and t-shirts. But I never really cared because he was my baby brother and what's a big sister for if not to buy stuff. 

So I looked through the tables of ties. And I imagined that I was with Shane instead of my father, not willing to acknowledge that I was picking out a tie that Shane would never see. I brought 6 to the counter and knew that Ed disapproved. But my father trusted my advice, purchasing 2 that I could picture Shane wearing.  

Instead of discussing the obvious, I talked about how good of a deal we had gotten. How lucky we were to have had Ed as our salesperson.  How it was great that we did not have to have alternations made to my father's suit. 

On the way home from finding appropriate funeral garb for my father, my grandpa called. Grandpa served in World War II. Grandpa had always been a hero to Shane and me. Grandpa broke my and my father's heart on the phone. He said how he felt helpless. How he wanted something to do. How he wanted to help. My father bravely navigated an 8-lane highway and spoke to Grandpa at the same time, expressing how we were all helpless and playing a waiting game as to when Shane would come home. 


I then talked to Grandpa. I asked him what town in Austria he visited while he was still serving in the Army but stuck in Europe after the War had ended. Shane and I had visited my Grandpa and Grandma during Shane's leave time, and we were lucky enough to hear some of Grandpa's war stories. Grandpa told me he couldn't remember at the moment. We talked a little longer and he recollected that it was Strassburg, Austria. I don't know why the name of that town mattered so much, but I know it took Grandpa's mind off of the death of Shane for at least a few seconds. 


And then I asked to talk to Grandma. Grandma is not, technically, my "real" grandma. My father's mom died about a year before I was born from breast cancer and I never had the pleasure of meeting her. Grandpa remarried my Grandma Hazel, and Shane and I never thought of her as our step-grandmother, only "Grandma." I remember one summer when we spent a week with our grandparents, Grandma was talking on the phone and made a reference to her step-grandchildren. I was young, didn't understand, and was furious. While we do not share blood, she is and always will be my Grandma. I always say that I inherited my ability to bake in the kitchen to her, despite the fact that this is scientifically impossible. 


So I ask to speak to Grandma. And she was helpless. And I have to hold it together.


"Hon," she says, "Hon I am so sorry and we love you so much and we loved Shane so much and you are so special and we are praying for you." Grandma is the kindest person I have ever encountered. She goes on to say that she feels helpless. That she wants to help. 


And so I tell her, "Grandma, I know that you feel like you aren't doing anything. But I know that you are praying. And I know that you love me. And I can feel your love and your prayers. And I need you to keep praying for me and for all of us."


I'm hoping that this is helping and not hurting. She says that she will pray. That she loves me. That she will do anything she can to help. And I don't know if I even believe in God at this point but I have to because that means that Shane is in heaven.


I don't know how I didn't cry when I spoke to her. After I got off of the phone, my dad told me that it was because Grandma needed me to be strong and to not cry. 


Later in the day,  I screamed at the top of my lungs in the car with the windows rolled up so that no one could hear, until I became hoarse, tears pouring out of my eyes, where no one could hear or see me.

8 comments:

  1. you are allowed to be angry. I love you.
    ~Lou

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  2. "Usually prayer is a question of groaning rather than speaking, tears rather than words." - St. Augustine

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  3. I feel your pain. Jeff Standfest was our friend. This brings all the pain to the front again. I am thinking of your family every minute. Keep strong.

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  4. Oh sweetheart my heart goes out to you and your family ay this time. I have 4 sisters and i could not imagine the pain and hurt you must be feeling.I have 2 children my son is 23 and my daughter 14. My son is her hero,the tought of him makes her giggle and smile. so ive tries to imagine what you must be feeling by putting myself in my daughters shoes. hold tight sweetheart,hold tight to those merories for they will never fade. Shane is with god,please do not second guess that bacause he needs your prayers to his journey to heaven right now.
    You dont know me but i will help in anyway you need to send supplies to his brothers still there. I am prating for strength for you and your family.
    God Bless, Dawn Wolons

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  5. My heart goes out to you and your family. I have been thinking of all of you as you go through this horrible and unfair tragedy. Shane was an amazing individual and he will be missed dearly. My prayers are with you. Hold on to those memories!!!
    God bless,
    Sheri Stys-Westerhof
    Shane's 3rd grade teacher

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  6. I know your pain I feel your love for your brother Shane you sound like my family. I have a daughter and four sons. We lost my beautiful son Michael 22 in an accident he was in the middle his sister just loves her brothers she is the oldest. My sister told me you can tell God your angry and that you don't believe his there, because he knows our pain because he lost his son to.
    I pray for Shane his family and loved ones. My heart goes out to all of you.

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  7. It is so unfortunate that it takes something so horrible for me to find time to reconnect with you. Im thinking about you everyday, all day. Im praying for you and your family to continue to be so strong. I can't imagine the pain you are feeling and I really mean it when I say, if you need anything.....please call. Even if you just want to cry...my brother is a Marine and I can't even begin to imagine having gone through this. You are brave and amazing! Stay strong Beth. I love you

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  8. Beth, I can only say that my heart and spirit feels your pain, and that I along with so many are praying for you and your family. Your brother Shane is and always will be a blessing to his family and this Country. Stay strong, lean on those who are far and near, and keep writing!

    THE FLAG DOES NOT FLY BECAUSE OF THE WIND THAT BLOWS IT-THE FLAG FLIES BECAUSE EACH SOLDIERS' LAST BREATH BLOWS BY IT. IN HONOR OF YOUR BROTHER AND OUR FALLEN SOLDIERS. YOU ARE OUR HEROES, WE LOVE YOU, YOU WILL NEVER BE FORGOTTEN. YOU ARE ENGRAVED IN OUR HEARTS FOREVER!
    GOD BLESS YOU!!


    "A Soldier's Heart" by R. Kelly: 
    All hope was gone
    Hard to hang on
    Hard to be strong
    Was blind, could not see
    Nothing but walls in front of me
    And inside no peace

    And the mountains seemed impossible to climb
    Until you stood on the front line
    You led the way
    Out of the darkness
    We didn't go astray
    You were ready to die for our sake
    And that, that takes a soldier's heart

    Oceans so deep
    Uphill, so steep
    But still we believe
    And when the road was too far to travel
    Heroes, you cared, you came and carried us there

    And the mountains seemed impossible to climb
    Until you stood on the front line
    You led the way
    Out of the darkness
    We didn't go astray
    You were ready to die for our sake
    And that takes a soldier's heart

    And so our flag was still there
    All because you decided to care
    Our burden to bear

    You stood on the front line
    You led the way
    Right out of the darkness
    Didn't go astray
    You were ready to die for our sake
    And that takes

    You stood on the front line
    You led the way
    Right out of the darkness, hey
    You could have let us go astray
    You were ready to die for our sake
    And that takes a soldier's heart
    Whoa, that takes a soldier's heart, hey
    It takes a soldier's heart

    Becky C
    (A Navy Mom)

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