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, February 25, 2011

50,000 Hits

Thank you to everyone who reads this blog. When we started it, I never imagined that we would get to 50,000 hits. Of course, I would much rather have Shane back than know people have been reading this. But since getting him back doesn't seem to be an option, the blog has been a comfort and has hopefully allowed people to get to know Shane and my family. And most importantly, the blog has allowed many of you to donate and help soldiers. So thank you for reading and for your continued support.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Time Doesn't Heal Wounds, It Just Passes

"Time heals all wounds" is a popular saying. I used to believe that it was true. Any heartbreak that I had, any mistake that I made, any bad day was always made better with time. Sometimes it would take days or weeks to make whatever wound I had to start to heal, but the wound would always start to scab over. 

This time, though, nothing. Time isn't healing anything. My wounds are just as open as they were the day that Shane was killed. They're slightly different wounds, but they still hurt like hell.

Part of me wants to forget about Shane for just a few minutes. To find a place where he hasn't been, a song that he hasn't heard, a meal he hasn't eaten. Even if I were to find a new location, I couldn't get rid of Shane if I tried because he permeates every part of my brain. And then another part of me just feels immense guilt for thinking such thoughts. And then the cycle repeats. 

I suppose that time has allowed me to cope with Shane's death. But coping with something and having something healed are two completely different things. I know that I've become better at coping. But I haven't started healing. And part of me thinks that I never will.  

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Times of War

"In times of peace, sons bury their fathers. In times of war, fathers bury their sons."

~ King Croesus


Sunday, February 20, 2011

"All I Mind's Losing You"

I sleep in my brother’s bedroom every night. On his pillows. Surrounded by all of things, untouched since he left them. I suppose that this could be interpreted as morbid. But I find it comforting. I like waking up in the morning to see a young Bob Dylan and Jimi Hendrix on the walls. Not because I love Bob Dylan and Jimi Hendrix – I do, but that’s not the point. I also like waking up to see Shane’s book and music collections, and not because I would pick the exact same book and music collections.  The reason I like waking up to these things is because Shane liked these things. Shane picked the Bob Dylan and Jimi Hendrix posters. He picked every CD sprawled over every surface in the room. And he read probably most books in his collection, especially the Star Wars ones. All of these things, added with many others, are part of what made Shane, Shane.

So I wonder, what happens if the room becomes disturbed? What happens if I take a shirt out of the drawer? What happens if I read a book and forget to put it back? What happens when, on some day in the future, these things are packed away or given away? Will I lose a part of Shane? Will that make him more of a memory some how? Does that mean I might forget a part of him?

It’s easy to remember everything now because it’s all still fresh in my mind. I can imagine that Shane is still in Afghanistan and that he will be coming home in two or three months. Then, in two or three months, I will have to make up something else to tell myself when Shane does not come home with everyone else. And time will only continue to move forward, bringing an ever-distancing gap between my brother and me.  Things will continue to happen to me. People will enter my life. Events will occur. Lessons will have to be learned. And all of these things will need to be remembered. And I become afraid of remembering these new things – afraid that they will take over my memories and push Shane out. Of course, when I rationally think about it, I know that isn’t how memory works. But even with reason and logic, my concern remains. And that is that I’m going to lose Shane.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Pity Party

Today is a day where I would like nothing more than to lay around feeling sorry for myself and saying, "why me" to no one in particular. I don't want a dead brother. I want an alive brother who is going to be coming home from Afghanistan by the time the weather is nice out and who I can go visit and talk to on the phone and in person and share music with and fight with if I'm angry at him and laugh with him about a stupid joke and cry with him if I'm sad or just sit in silence with him because sometimes that's okay, too. I want to yell at someone that none of this is fair. That Shane was a good person and didn't deserve to die. That I just want my brother back. I want someone to tell me that the joke is over and Shane can come out now and be alive and I won't even get sore about the past three months being awful if I can just please have my brother back. So if that could just happen soon I'd really appreciate it.

I wish that Shane was just some kid I knew and not my brother so that all of this didn't hurt so badly. So that I could just move on. But there really isn't ever going to be any moving on. There will be adjusting and there will be a point where I can drive in the car by myself without crying, yes, but there won't ever be moving on because I don't get another brother. I can get a boyfriend or a husband or a guy friend or a son but I can never get another brother.

And now I just feel selfish for all of the things that I think and feel right now and I know that all of this is normal or is probably normal because I don't read any books about this sort of thing. But I just want a break from it.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Don't Be Afraid of a Date on a Calendar

It’s just another day, I tell myself. And in reality, that’s all any day is. Just another 24 hours in a long series of days that eventually turn into weeks, months, years, decades, lives.

But you know it’s more than just a day. Right. Three months ago, Shane’s live abruptly ended. Although I could imagine the possibility of Shane dying (he was, after all, in an active warzone where his company was actively fired upon multiple times a day), I never could have imagined the aftermath of death. It’s awful. The dead get to die. The living are expected to keep on, well, living. Shane is hopefully in heaven or experiencing some sort of peaceful afterlife existence. Maybe he was reincarnated and is getting ready to start a new life as human or a dog or a bumblebee. My mom did always say that Shane had a very old soul so it wouldn’t really surprise me if whomever is in charge up there decided to give his one more go in a new form. Wherever he is, hopefully it’s better. But the rest of us are still here. So what do we do?

Me, I’ve begun to be afraid of dates on a calendar. The 6th of December was difficult and painful. Shane’s death was still very fresh. But the 6th of January passed without incident for me and I was really proud of that. So I thought that would become a trend – that every 6th would be nothing more than a date on a calendar for me. Instead, I’ve been dreading this 6th for the past few days and I don’t know why.

Maybe it’s just the time of year and the weather. At this moment, everything seems perpetually gloomy and like the world will remained covered in snow and ice and cold for rest of eternity. Maybe it’s that this is the three-month marker. Maybe it’s just because I was taken out of my grieving process for that second month anniversary and I’ve finally settled back into things. I suppose it doesn’t really matter. What does matter is that it’s here. I had nightmares all night and woke up abruptly at 6:22. Everyone else is asleep. I’m alone at the moment, sitting in the dark chill of the morning, unsure of whether I even have the energy to cry about things.

Today, I will get out of bed. I will shower. I will assemble an outfit. I will go out into the world and at least fake functionality. I will remember my brother. And today, I will try to not let the hole in my heart consume me.

Friday, February 4, 2011

"It's All Right to Cry. Crying Gets the Sad out of You."

I often find myself wondering whether I'm where I'm supposed to be on the grief scale. Am I grieving enough? Too much? Was I laughing too much the other day? Is it okay that I still cry in the car every day? It's tough to say. I haven't read any literature on grief and I don't really talk to people about my it except for those closest to me. And everyone says basically the same thing -- that grief is a very personal journey and it's never the same for any two people. 

There are days that are more difficult than others. Yesterday I woke up feeling melancholy and could not figure out why. The not being able to figure out why occurs rather often. I will have a sense of sadness or start crying and I'm not quite sure why. I almost have to remind myself that maybe I feel blue because I'm grieving the loss of Shane. I think the reason behind this is that I don't want to admit to myself that I'm still being sad. 

If I know anything about my brother, it would be that he would not want the people he loved to sit around mourning him. He would want to be remembered, absolutely, but he would also want us to carry on with our lives. To find happiness, to find love, to live our lives. I try to remember that when I start feeling a sense of grief overcome me. I allow myself to feel anger or pain or fear or sadness or loss. But then I move on with my day. Shane is always with me, in my heart. But I don't allow the sadness that his death created to overshadow my life. Because if I were to do that, it would just consume me and I would be trapped in the Nothing. 

The people who told me at the funeral home that this will never go away were right. I was talking to Shane in the car about that the other day, a place where I often find myself having conversations with the air. How those people really knew what they were talking about. It never stops hurting. It will never go away. There will always be a hole in my heart that cannot be filled. And I would even say that it doesn't ever get easier, it just gets "different." 

Shane isn't someone capable of being replaced for anyone whose life he touched. And for me, he isn't someone capable of being moved on from. He was my only brother and I will never get another one. Sometimes I wish that I had other siblings so that the loss of Shane could be cushioned by having other brothers or sisters to lean on. But most of the time, I'm content with having had 23 years with one amazing little brother. 

So I guess for now, it's alright to continue crying in the car. Maybe one day I'll be able to take a car ride by myself and not feel the familiar wet sting on my face of tears. But that day probably won't be today. And it probably won't be tomorrow.