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

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Edible Arrangements

 After Shane died, my parents and my best friend and I were gathered at home, preparing for a day at the funeral home or maybe one of the days right before the funeral home. Everyone was in pajamas, if I remember correctly, except for my best friend, who was put together and making sure that we were at least semi-functioning. There was a knock at the door. My best friend appeared to go answer the door and then came into the room where I was, muttering something slightly undiscernible and suggesting that I needed to go answer the door. 

At the door was a man with the widest smile I've possibly ever seen. He was wearing orange and purple and holding and obscenely large bouquet of fruit. So large that he was struggling to keep it upright. 


I stared back in disbelief. What was this strange little man doing at the door? What was this bouquet of fruit? Why was he so happy? Would I ever be that happy again? Was I ever that happy to begin with? Probably not. Could I even fake being that happy? Probably not successfully. Seriously, was this man on medication? Did he have a head injury? These are the thoughts that flew through my head as I stared at the man, unable to form proper words. 

Finally, I answered, "How can I help you?"

"Well, I have an Edible Arrangement for you! And boy, is this one special because it even has special chocolate sauce! And I've never gotten to deliver one with special chocolate sauce before! So this must be a very special delivery! Now, if you can just take this, I need to run back to the car so that I can get a little signature from you and give you one of our wonderful calendars!"

The man somehow placed the Edible Arrangement into my arms and, in the memory I've kept of the moment, skipped off to his delivery van to get a calendar and something for me to sign with a "little signature." 

I must have managed to hand off the arrangement to someone else, collect the special chocolate sauce and calendar from the man, and give him a little signature. He was smiling the entire time. Couldn't he see our misery, I thought to myself. Didn't he read the card? 

"Have a great day!!" The man trotted back to his van and drove out of our lives. 

I turned around to face my family and friends. And something magical happened. We all started laughing. Real laughter. Not forced, conversational laughter. But real, honest, doesn't-make-you-sound-attractive laughter that comes from deep down in your belly. 

That moment proved for me that life does, in fact, go on. Sometimes it starts to go on during a time when we least expect, like when you're minding your own business, attempting to be miserable and grieve in your pajamas. Life forces you to have moments of happiness and laughter, even if it then thrusts you into four miserable days of funeral homes and funerals and burials.

I don't remember who sent the Edible Arrangement, I think it was a friend of my mother's. It was excessively large and took a long time to disassemble but it gave us fresh fruit to eat. And it gave us laughter. Throughout the rest of that week, we kept seeing Edible Arrangements trucks and making jokes about special chocolate sauce and happy deliverymen. To whomever sent that, I don't think anything else my family was given during that time frame brought us more genuine happiness during a time of absolute misery, so thank you very much. 

Not so long ago, I saw that deliveryman again and took the opportunity to thank him. I don't think he remembered me, but when I told him that we still talk about how happy of a person he was and how he brought my family so much joy with our Edible Arrangement he smiled wider than I thought possible, even for him. 

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