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

Monday, December 6, 2010

In Re: Jerky, Anonymous Individual Who Commented on my Latest Post

Dear Anonymous,

Thank you so much for not feeling "bad" for me. If I wanted anyone to feel BADLY for me (you see what I did there? I used the English language properly, unlike yourself), I certainly wouldn't be asking anyone at law school. You are a coward and the type of person who gives lawyers a bad name.

You claim to have been around me "enough to have a pretty good sense of the kind of person you are." Yet, we're clearly not friends. My friends know that I'm NEVER looking for anyone to feel badly for me. They know that sometimes I need a hug and sometimes I need them to tell me a story and sometimes I need them to just sit with me in silence so that I have someone to be near me when the giant hole that has been ripped into my heart starts hurting. They're also not cowards like you, a person hiding behind anonymity to write hurtful things. And I'm woman enough to admit that your words were hurtful. If they had a problem with me, they would tell me to my face because I don't associate myself with sniveling, insensitive assholes like yourself. And if you're actually around me enough at school, you would notice that I've been absent from the building since Shane died. I don't go to school because I don't want pity from anyone. I want my space and to be left alone when I'm at school because it's school and I'm still attempting to become a kick ass lawyer. I don't want to talk to anyone about Shane or how I'm feeling. The times I am at school, I surround myself with my close friends or talk with professors whose opinions matter to me. If I happen to catch myself alone, I keep my head down and pretend to be on my phone so that I don't have to talk to anyone.

You tell me that I should feel grateful and thankful. THANK YOU!!! Your words are just so appreciated and I'm so glad that someone who obviously knows nothing about death or grief or sacrifice told me how I should feel! That's exactly what I needed today and you've just really cleared up so much for me.

You've also probably never had an actual conversation with anyone who is actively serving in our military, or else you wouldn't make such asinine comments about how there isn't a draft right now and how I'm "misguided" at my best and "ignorant" at my worst for calling Afghanistan a shit hole. The reason we aren't in a draft situation is because there are brave men and women who VOLUNTEER to give up their lives, their friends, their family, their freedom, so that some whiner like you doesn't have to get drafted. If you'd like to have a conversation with a brave man or woman, please let me know and I will make sure that one of them contacts you when they aren't busy risking their lives in some shit hole so that some asshole like yourself can hide behind a computer screen.

I started this blog as a place for people to donate money that goes directly to Shane's brothers who are still fighting in Afghanistan. The amount of money that we've raised is amazing and is going to help over 30 men during the upcoming cold Afghan winter, as we are able to supply them with the best boots that money can buy so that they might better navigate the rough terrain in which they are often fighting, along with cold weather gear for when they are out on long missions.

I'm guessing that you haven't donated anything. If you're so grateful for Shane's death, put your money where your big mouth is and make a donation.

I also started the blog so that everyone who knew and loved Shane could easily find funeral information and could share memories about Shane with one another.

I've kept writing because I am a writer and my words touch people. I'm not patting myself on the back, but after having 100s of people tell me how much they enjoy reading this blog, I've started to believe them. This blog keeps Shane's memory alive for me and for others. And it's therapeutic for me to write. I write in a stream of consciousness style intentionally. Since you're an idiot, I'll explain and let you know that means that I write whatever is in my head at the time. I don't want my writing to be too edited or too nice. I want it to be real. And if I'm doing my job properly, that means that the reader might gain a small sense of what I feel. Obviously, this entry wasn't one of my best since it produced such a cruel comment from you. My choice in writing style also means that I don't write about every thought and feeling that comes into my head, or I'd be on the computer all day. So if you read through my entries, you won't find any posts really expressing how grateful and thankful I am for everyone who has been so kind to my family and me in the past 30 days. My reason? Not like you deserve to know, but for the other people who read this blog, it's because there are simply not words in the English language that express exactly how grateful and thankful I am. Shane was loved by so many and his death affected so many. And I feel that love on a daily basis. I wish that I had the words to adequately express how grateful I am, but I don't have those today. Today, I felt angry at Shane for being dead, so that's what I wrote about. It's something that I know other people who have gone through what I'm experiencing have probably felt. It's honest. It's real. It's not a pretty emotion and I feel sick to my stomach for feeling this way. But it's what I feel. And I made myself a promise when I began writing here that I would write what I felt in my heart, no matter how ugly that feeling.

I'm going to leave your comment, Anonymous. I knew when I started writing that there would be comments that I might not like. Thanks for being my first! We'll always have this special memory together. It is a free country after all, and according to some stuff I've learned at the law school we allegedly both attend, the First Amendment allows assholes like you the freedom to make ignorant comments.

So thanks so much for your words. They've just really been so helpful to me today. Oops, there I go getting all pissy. "My bad."


Elizabeth Reifert

Because "Happy One Month of Being Dead" Just Doesn't Sound Proper

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.