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, September 11, 2011

The Big Secret

I am beyond tired, but my mind will not settle for the night. I have spent the good part of the day thinking about a secret. Yep, a big secret between a brother and his sister. Secrets are tricky things; they are in a world of cloaks and veils.

On September 10, 2010, I was in my classroom, last hour of the day. I remember there was a knock on the door, and I turned around to see who was coming in my room so late in the day. And then I could not believe my eyes. There was Shane with Beth standing behind him. I stopped dead in my tracks, there was Shane. Shane! Shane told me he was still stuck in Afghanistan waiting to fly out for his mid-deployment leave. Beth and Shane had devised a plan to keep Shane’s homecoming a secret from Kurt and me. Beth alone went to the airport (with her special sign) to greet Shane. They drove straight to the high school and were escorted to my classroom. Shane did not take time to shower or change his clothes, which he had been in for a couple of days, but came right to school. And there were my children – oh, my heart was so full of love!

The following Monday, Katie, one of my seventh hour kids, gave me a present. She told me not to be mad at her because she broke a school rule, but to open the present. The present was a framed photo; Katie took out her cell phone and snapped the surprise. It is from the back of the room and not the clearest photo, but it captures the bear hug I gave Shane. I love this photo!

How Beth was able to keep this secret from me – well, I have yet to figure that one out. I do not know who concocted this plan, but it was a plan with a high level of secrecy.  It was shared between a brother and his sister, who had such a special bond.

I was reminded of this bond when I was watching the news, and Governor Christie delivered his speech at Liberty State Park in New Jersey. He said, “…when you think about the brother or sister who no longer has that person who they can pick up the phone and call and speak in that shorthand that only comes after spending a lifetime together. When you think about that measure of loss. All of the changes and inconveniences in our lives, pale in comparison.” Well said Governor Christie, well said.

As September 11th has now rolled around – take time to remember the victims and their families of September 11, 2001. Take time to remember those who sacrificed their lives in Iraq and Afghanistan to help keep America safe. Take time to remember their families and friends. Take time to reflect on this great country and the freedoms that we cherish.

As I continue to “put one foot in front of the other.”

Always and forever,
Shane’s Mammy and Beth’s Momma

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