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

Friday, December 31, 2010

"Gifts" from Shane

From my mom: 

As I reflect during these days after the holidays, which were filled with so much love from family and friends, my mind keeps wandering back in time. It is after the holidays that this damp, dreariness creeps into my soul. Now I ask, what now? what am I supposed to do? is there a band aid big enough for this broken heart? Then I kick myself in the behind and just remember all the “gifts” that Shane has given to me and all those he loved.

When Shane came home in September for his mid tour deployment leave; it was a gift. Shane made sure that we all received our special day with him. My day was September 21st and we went to the Detroit Zoo. It was an especially warm day and the animals were all lazy – just trying to stay cool. We stayed in the butterfly house and watched the beautiful array of colors floating by, it was magical. Then off to the polar bears, and again we watched magnificent mammals swim over our heads and the sun creating prism sprays on the walls. We went and grabbed lunch and then a little shopping for a couple of new t-shirts. I remember the salesgirl hitting on my son. And then I chuckled knowing how handsome he was and how proudly he stood. Even though Shane wasn’t tall, he truly stood out in the crowd – I know the Bushmasters gave him that gift.

And then September 25th  rolled around, it was Shane’s day to head back to Afghanistan. Ah, that drive to the airport – really no one knowing what to say or how to act, so we listened to music. Music was so important to Shane, and I wish I could remember what songs were playing. We arrived at the airport and no one wanted to get out of the Jeep, but Shane got out and reached for his bags. I remember going to the counter at Delta. I don’t know if all airlines offer military escorts, but we were able to go to the gate with Shane. I gave the clerk my driver’s license as she asked Shane where he was going. He told her, “back to Afghanistan, ma’am,” and she looked me in the eyes. Yep, she must have been a mother because she knew, she knew what only a mother can feel at a time like that. She told Shane she would keep him in her prayers and then I noticed the tears glistening in her eyes.

So, now we are at the gate – just sitting and waiting. And Shane gave me another gift. Shane looked me in the eyes and said, “Mammy, let’s go get a Coke.” So, just the two of us went in search of a Coke. You see, in my world – it has to be a Coke. Shane “converted” to Pepsi while in college, but we shared a Coke. I remember walking to the counter with a Coke and a small bag of sourdough pretzels; the clerk gave Shane his military discount. And then we walked back – arm in arm, and I actually had a smile on my face because my heart was so full. I will never forget that very last face-to-face, “Love you, Mammy!” and my last, “Love you bunches and bunches, Buddy!”

And when the going gets tough – I cherish the words Shane told his father. Kurt once asked Shane, how do you do it? how do you keep going? how, when you are so tired or thirsty or hungry? how do you keep going? Shane’s response, so simple, but powerfully stated. “It is quite simple, Dad, you just put one foot in front of the other.” What a beautiful gift! A gift to help all of us on our damp, dreary days to mend our hearts and souls. One foot in front of the other!

Peace and Love,
Always and forever,
Shane’s mammy and Beth’s momma


  1. There are many ways children spend the gifts given by their parents. Holidays, in particular, remind us of these gifts--as a mom, I often wonder whether or not my kids will like what their father and I have given them: what will they do with their gifts? Will they enjoy the music it brings to them? Will they find the books interesting? Will they have fun playing the games? Is the cash / gift card enough to help them out in their colleges / travels? Will those monies spent give them an opportunity to buy something they would like instead of some creepy looking thing I would have selected?

    Will they know how to give and not just receive?

    Your family surely knows the answers to such questions now.

    A great present (Christmas or otherwise) was given to you a little over 20 years ago, and has been "re-called" to be perfected when you are "re-gifted". The "Glories" and "Hallelujahs" might make sense then. Real Americans understand and appreciate this.

    Shane is with everyone that appreciates the gifts military families give each and every day.

    Thanks to Shane and his extended FAMILY, I can still wonder whether or not my kids will think the things their father and I do for them are totally asinine.

    With best wishes, love, and hope for a greater appreciation of OUR gifts,


  2. one foot in front of the other.

    this simple statement keeps so many of us going on some seemingly impossible days.

    something to be thankful for, truly!