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, November 12, 2010


Shane mostly corresponded with everyone back home through Facebook messages. I was re-reading some of the messages we had exchanged, and I wanted to share a message that I sent to him right after he deployed to Afghanistan. I am sharing this so that others know what families experience when their soldier deploys, and what a soldier feels as he is about to begin fighting in a war.

From: Elizabeth Reifert
To: Shane Reifert
Date: May 8, 2010
Time: 1:23 p.m.

i don't know how often you will have the internet. but you were right i guess about me not really dealing with the fact that you will be gone for up to a year. i guess i hadn't really noticed because i had had people around me for the last few nights and didn't even have to sleep alone because there were just friends here and i didn't have to think about anything. but then last night i was all by myself. i didn't have any school work. there wasn't even anything really on tv. and it was just kind of sad and lonely. and then this morning i made the mistake of watching an episode of the pacific on hbo and i just cried and cried like a big baby. so i guess i won't be watching any more of that. although it was really good.

i think about you being in the desert. in a place that is unfamiliar and strange. i have no idea what you are going through. or what you are about to go through. i know that you won't be the same person when you come back from all of this. i don't think you could go through being through a war and not be changed. i know it will change me and everyone else who you hold in your heart, as well. but i can't imagine what it will be like for you.

this isn't a very uplifting email. i wish it was. i'm sorry. 

Click "Read More" to see Shane's response to me.

I Feel You in the In-Between

The in-between. It's what I call the time between first waking and actually being awake and cognizant. I relish the in-between every morning, even though it doesn't last very long. It's a time when nothing is really wrong, nothing is really right, everything is a little fuzzy.

Shane has been dead for 6 days. And for the past 6 mornings, for those few fleeting seconds in the in-between, I am in a world where Shane is alive. Far away and in a dangerous place, but alive and connected and eventually coming home. For a few seconds each morning, I feel Shane's presence in the in-between and everything is going to be alright.

And then, as quickly as it came, the in-between goes. Something yanks me back to reality, the in-between becomes distant and the realization of Shane's death becomes palpable.

I wish I could find a way to stay in that place for just a few seconds longer. I'm afraid of the morning that I wake up and he is not in the in-between. 

But for now, he is there. And it is enough.

Oh, Dear Sister, Trouble Weighs a Ton

We sat in a room that was decorated in order to make its occupants feel as welcomed and relaxed as possible. The lighting was soothing. The colors were neutral. It made me want to vomit. We were at the funeral home, beginning to make arrangements for Shane's viewing. There are so many details that need to be worked out - picking a prayer card, listing the names of survivorship for an obituary, deciding viewing times. I wanted the boulder on my back to be lifted off. I didn't want to think about any of these things. I wanted to be melt down and be absorbed into the carpeting.

As we waited for the funeral director to enter, a man with an army hat entered the room. His face looked familiar but I could not place him. The man shook my father's hand. Dad turned to me, saying "this is Sergeant Williams." I thanked Sgt. Williams for his service, but it didn't click in my head who he was until he sat down. 

Click "read more" for my experience with Sgt. Williams and the day that my family dropped Shane off for BCT.