It's snowing, and everything always seems so much bleaker when there are white flecks of frozen ice streaming across a window pane.
Shane died one month ago today. And life is still happening all around me. I had it in my head that today wouldn't effect me. It's just a date on a calendar, after all.
I should be studying. I have finals. I'm in law school. I need to finish law school. I need to keep living. I need to be pretending to be happy until I actually start being happy. I keep telling myself that. I know Shane wouldn't want me to just give up after I've worked so hard over the past 2 and a half years of my life. Submission is easy. It doesn't take much to just give up. People give up all the time. Because other people tell them they can't do something. Because life gets in the way. Because actually following through with a plan is easier said than done.
Shane would always tell me that unless you were shot directly in the heart, you died because you gave up wanting to live. That you didn't want to fight anymore and let death take you. He was so adamant about this. And I think about that all the time. And it makes me furious at my dead brother. Because he wasn't shot directly in the heart.
According to his logic, he should be alive right now. He should have had some serious internal bleeding and should have been flown to Germany for medical care and then Walter Reed and he should have been in a hospital bed for a while and we should have visited him while he was in that hospital bed and yelled at him for giving us such a scare but really have just been grateful that he was in a hospital bed and not a box in the ground and he should have had some sarcastic retort and given the halfway smile that we both use all the time and he should have started to heal and then he should have gone back to Fort Campbell, where he would be right now, doing some POG work that he would hate, biding his time before he got to go back and fight some more. That's what should have happened. But that's not what actually happened. He shouldn't be in a box in the ground, rotting, or maybe frozen, but he is.
Sometimes I yell at him for having given up. I yell at him for not paying more attention and for not being more aware of his surroundings. For not wanting to live enough to keep fighting against death. For letting death win. For not choosing life. I get mad at my dead brother. And then I get mad at myself. It's a disgusting thing to admit, that I get mad at a dead person. It's selfish. It's gross. But it's honest. It's what I feel. It's not what anyone is telling me to feel.
Shane, I get so mad at you for not living. For leaving me. For leaving mom and dad. For leaving your brothers. For leaving all of us. For being the first one to die. I know you would have wanted it that way. I can picture it in my head --
God or whomever is allegedly in charge of things up there getting off of his fat ass and coming down here to lowly Earth, and walking up to you saying, "Well Shane, I know that this might not be the best time. I know you're here because some assholes have declared jihad in my name against America and then some American bureaucrat who doesn't know anything about anything made a decision to put you in a shit hole for 12 months. And I know you've had a rough go of things while you've been here. But someone has to go today."
You would have become solemn and purse your lips and look down at the ground, maybe kick some rocks with your boot. You'd look God in the eyes, even though most people probably wouldn't be able to do that. God would say, "I already know what you're going to choose, because I am God, after all, and even though I let you think you have free will, I'm still omniscient and all powerful. But I need to ask you anyways, Shane. Someone has to go today. Who is it going to be? Is it going to be one of them?," as God would wave his arm, pointing toward other soldiers, "Is it going to be one of your brothers, Shane? Or is it going to be you?"
And Shane would have taken a deep breath and replied, "It's gonna be me."
And that would've been the end of it. God would have given him a somewhat quick death for making such a selfless decision, allowing a stray bullet to hit Shane when he was least expecting it, and then allowing Death to slip in to take Shane's soul to where ever souls go and then the rest of the story would unfold. Not that Shane was some sort of constantly self-sacrificing lamb. But I know in my heart that he would have given his life for his brothers. Because that's really what infantrymen fight for -- one another. Not America. Not the Constitution. Not the president. Not the government. But for their brothers. Yes, they sign paperwork and recite oaths to protect America and the Constitution and the president and the government. But, from everything Shane ever told me about war, those things become intangibles. Concepts. Far away thoughts. President Obama isn't going to swoop in and kill all of the bad guys when they have their sights on you. The Constitution isn't going to give you water when you've consumed all of your own and there isn't more coming for 48 hours. The government won't tell you a joke to make you crack a smile when you need it the most, when you're at your lowest because you've been out in the field for over a week without a shower or a change of clothes or a reminder of home or a moment without having to be alert to the fact that someone is attempting to kill you. But your brothers will do all of those things for you and more. Because they know what it's like. Because they're the only people in the world who really have any idea of what you're going through. And Shane knew all of those things, which is why I have a 5% understanding of those things and why I know that I shouldn't be mad at him for being dead. I should be happy that he lived. That he loved. That he was doing what he wanted to do with his life.
But knowing all of this leaves me with no catharsis. It leaves me staring out a window, watching white flecks of frozen ice blur together.