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

Thursday, January 20, 2011


It’s been very difficult for me to write lately. Every time I sit down to formulate some words into sentences, my mind seems to falter and the page remains blank.

I’ve been having a rough time lately. I think it’s because the fact that Shane isn’t coming back is starting to become real.

When I check Facebook, I see status updates about when other soldiers are coming home on leave or coming home from deployment, and they break my heart. “_____ will be home for good in 2 months!” “Picking up ____ from the airport tomorrow morning!” They’re wonderful things to be able to share. Much better than most of the dribble on Facebook (“insert overly descriptive recent medical problem here;” “insert mundane task there”). And a part of me is really and truly happy that someone is getting to come home. But there’s another part of my heart that absolutely breaks when I read things like that. Because my someone will never be coming home on leave. He will never be coming back after a deployment. He will never be leaving for a deployment, either, for that matter. There are a billion things that Shane will simply never do again. And that’s a really difficult fact to wrap my head around.

I know that it’s going to be a bittersweet time in my life when Shane’s platoon comes home from their deployment. On the one hand, I can’t wait to meet some of the men who have become like family to me. But on the other hand, I know that my brother should be among them when they return. And it will be devastating when he doesn’t return.

Wasn’t Shane a good enough soldier? Wasn’t he a good enough person? Yes, and yes. But unfortunately, how good someone is does not determine whether they live or die. Maybe that sort of stuff matters for the afterlife, but it doesn’t really seem to matter in the here and now. Shane is dead and the world is still brimming with terrible people who get to walk around and live their terrible lives without a second thought.

“No one ever said that life was fair,” is something that I grew up hearing. It was mostly in reference to me not getting what I wanted. I never paid much attention to the phrase then, but I do now. Things really aren’t fair. So then what’s the point? If you’re a hard worker, if you have a good character, if you have a clean conscience and your heart is in the right place, what does all of that get you if life can get taken away in but a mere moment? I don’t really have an answer to my question and I don’t think anyone else could give me a satisfactory answer, either at the moment. Mostly because I’m convinced that there isn’t one. And for the time being, that is fine.

I keep waking up every morning. I keep getting out of bed and showering and I’ve even started going to my classes and interacting with other human beings besides my parents and sometimes I catch myself having little moments where I’m happy. They never last long, sometimes less than a second. But they’re there. Yesterday I spoke with a dear friend on the phone and I laughed. We both did. I don’t remember about what, but I remember my stomach hurting because I had laughed with my entire body. At another point in the day, I received hugs from two of my other friends and remembered that people really care about me, which I sometimes forget, and I felt the love they had for me in their hearts and I hoped that my heart was giving off the same love for them.

And maybe those little moments are the point. I know that for some people who are lucky enough to have a happy disposition, those little moments might be long stretches of time in their lives. But for people like me, happiness isn’t a constant. Rather, it sneaks into my heart in quiet little moments when I’m not looking or expecting. Yesterday, I was lucky enough to have two of those little moments. Maybe I won’t have any today. But I’m going to stick those moments in my metaphorical pocket and hold onto them today, just in case I find myself asking what the point of everything is.


  1. Those small moments of happiness are all most of us ever get. No one is truly happy all of the time. Many of us aren't even happy most of the time, and that's alright.
    It makes those real happy moments that much more meaningful.
    You stay strong. And keep writing.

  2. Continue to hang in there. There will be many days ahead of you where you will crumble, you will fall and you will cry. Allow it to happen and know that he is with you. You are never alone and always know that there is another Gold Star Sibling who knows exactly how your are feeling. It was 18 months ago yesterday that my brother was killed and I was told of the word NEVER. It has changed my life and it has shaped my future. From here on out two new words have come into my life... HONOR & REMEMBER. This is what I will do. I think of you often. (((HUGS)))