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

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Pearl Harbor

Today is the 69th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor. Please take a moment out of your day to remember those who died in the attack and the many others who were left with holes in their hearts as a result of the attack. 

If you're interested in learning more, National Geographic has a comprehensive page dedicated to Pearl Harbor. 

Thank you to everyone who died on that fateful day 69 years ago. Thank you to those who keep their memories alive. 

Because They Don't Make Hallmark Cards for This

Attempting to learn from every experience that comes my way, I will take this much from Anonymous -- to be more openly thankful and grateful to those who love and care for me. So I'm going to thank 5 people today on my blog, because they are the 5 people in my head right now, regardless of whether I think they will actually be reading.

Thank you to Julianne, who was at school studying on November 6. Thank you for being at school, for allowing me to get us Starbucks, for sitting in that classroom with horrible temperature control, for that conversation we had about your moot court problem right before I got a phone call that would change both of our lives. Thank you for being there and for allowing me to be there with you when I got that phone call. A side thank you to whatever in the universe made me go to school that day so that I wouldn't be alone when I got that phone call. Thank you for pulling me to the ground and holding me when I started shaking and kept asking you, "what are we going to do" and repeating "no." Thank you for being strong for both of us that day.

Thank you to Scott Ramon Seguro Mescudi, a/k/a Kid Cudi, whom I will probably never meet in my real life and who most certainly will never read this. Your music has given me wonderful moments with Shane during his life and his death. Your new album was the only music that I could listen to after Shane was killed. I know you never met Shane and you couldn't have known that your music would speak to me so much, but I will always feel like you wrote that album for me to help me get through all of this. I do know that you know grief and loss and I hear that every time I listen to your music. Thank you for writing the line "birds seen flying around, you never see them too long on the ground," because I keep that in my heart and say it everyday.

Kid Cudi's "Mr. Rager"

Thank you to Patty, the director at Gendernalik Funeral Home in New Baltimore, Michigan. Thank you for knowing when I needed a hug and when I did not. Thank you for being magical, in that you are a strong woman and a kind woman at the same time. Thank you for making a really shitty time in my family's life as not shitty as possible. Thank you for allowing us to play rap music during Shane's viewing. I told you that I hoped I never had to see you again, and I mean that in the best way possible. But if I ever do have to be at a funeral home again, I wouldn't mind being around you, because you care and you take care of people and I wish that I could be more like you.

Thank you to my big brother, Garrett. I know that you didn't have to do anything that you have done for my family. You didn't know if we would love you or hate you, but you were there, anyways. You didn't have to be at the funeral home every day, all day. You didn't have to be at the funeral. You didn't have to stick around afterward for my family and me. I know that you don't have to be my new big brother but I'm so glad that you are. You remind me that family isn't just the one into which you are born, but the one you make yourself. Thank you for making me happy and sad at the same time when you talk about the Army and war and life, because sometimes I allow myself to pretend that I'm listening to Shane instead of you. You were the source material for many of Shane's opinions on those topics, and I'm so glad that he learned from you and that I get to have you in my life if I can't have Shane. My mom says that she can see how good of a soul you have. I don't have the ability to see that, but I feel it every time you check on me and make sure that I'm doing okay and studying and not falling off the face of the planet. I hope that I'm as decent of a little sister as I was of a big sister, because you're going to be stuck with me for awhile. 

Thank you to my mom's cousin, Peggy. Thank you for sitting with me before the funeral started, even though we didn't know one another. Thank you for not being religious and for not telling me that Shane was in a better place and for not telling me that you were praying for my family and me. Thank you for being a real person and for understanding without me having to say much. Thank you for being one of the few people that I could talk to inside of the church and for finding me where I was hiding and for just sitting with me.

Moving On

When I woke up yesterday, I thought that I was going to have a productive day. I headed to the gym and worked out with my trainer. I showered. I put on something that resembled an outfit, even though I wasn't leaving the house. I put my books out on my table and was prepared to study. I decided that I'd write a blog entry because I had a mild case of the mean reds and then I even allowed myself to take a nap since sometimes seemingly lazy activities like writing take a lot out of me. 

I woke up from my nap with way too many messages on my phone and a rude and inconsiderate comment on a blog post. And it ruined the rest of my day. I'd like to be able to say that the person who commented did not have an effect on me, but then I would be a liar. I resigned myself to bed for the rest of the day. I allowed myself to be weak and to feel sorry for myself. I couldn't eat. I felt like vomiting. I wanted to sleep but could not. I couldn't watch anything, listen to anything, or read anything, because everything reminded me of Shane and how I was probably letting him down at the moment by just moping around.

Some people will probably think that I'm a little foolish for acting in such a manner, or for letting Anonymous know that I allowed him/her to get into my head. And depending on the moment, I might be included in that group of people. But at this moment, it feels like the right thing to do. I want Anonymous to know that I was hurt by a stranger's words because all too often the person committing a hurtful act is unaware that he or she is being hurtful. Maybe Anonymous was being nice, in his/her mind. But "nice" is a relative term, and I want Anonymous to know that he/she was being hurtful and cruel and disrespectful and a genuinely awful person. Since Anonymous and I are allegedly Facebook friends, I hope that he/she deletes me as a friend, since we are obviously not. That way I don't appear ignorant or misguided and he/she doesn't have to read anything I ever write again.

Being a person who doesn't care what others think is something that I'm constantly striving for, but something I never achieve. Sometimes I present myself as the type of person who doesn't care what others think. But deep down, it hurts my feelings. Sometimes others' words can devastate me. As tough as I can appear, I can be rather squishy on the inside, to borrow a phrase that was once said to me.

The only person who I know didn't often allow others' opinions of him sway his thoughts was Shane. And he would always tell me that I needed to do the same. Since we didn't share the same brain or anything, I don't know if he was actually able to block out hurtful things or if he had created some sort of defensive mechanism against it or if he was just lying and going the "fake it 'til you make it route" when it came to allowing others to bother him. And I won't ever know. But in my mind, Shane had just found a way to not let others in. 

Shane was a physically small person, especially when he was a kid. He got picked on and got sad about it. Mean boys at school got into his head. He used to not be able to order at restaurants because he didn't like confrontation. When he got older, Shane spent much of him time hiding behind a computer screen in a world of gaming -- it was only after his death that I realized he had an entire network of friends in that world and that he hadn't become some sort of scary recluse. If Shane was alive right now, he'd find a way to fly back to Michigan to kill me himself for letting other people know these things. 

What's the point of all of this? Well, somewhere along the line, Shane bootstrapped himself. He joined the Army. He literally left a boy and came home a man, there is photographic evidence of this. Maybe it's something he was taught during Basic. Maybe it was something he taught himself. But I know that when Shane came home, he didn't allow other people to get inside of his head. 

I wish that I could have been like that yesterday, but I wasn't strong enough. Today, however, I am ridding Anonymous from my mind. Yesterday, I told my mom that I never wanted to set foot in my law school again, knowing there was some jerk thinking nasty things about me, but that was just the mean reds talking. I yet again received an outpouring of kind words and texts and emails and phone calls and comments from my actual friends. So today, I am allowing the words that warm my heart to permeate my brain, instead of cruel and ignorant words. I have finals for which I need to study and a chocolate chip waffle to eat and music to hear and friends to sit near to while I study.