A few days ago was an anniversary that has taken me a long time to understand how to commemorate. Nine years ago a friend and compatriot, service member, dreamer, father, and husband was killed in Iraq. If you served, it is likely you knew someone, or several people, who were killed in country or who, struggling to leave the battlefield behind or struggling to come home, lost the struggle after the war.
When I remember Brian, I also remember many others who died and for whatever reason, there are three total deaths, Brian's, Shane's and LTC Holland's, which always stick out the most for me...and sometimes I feel bad that I don't have the same level of sadness or guilt for others that I do for these guys.
Brian's death kicks off the three anniversaries in relatively short succession--even though he was the last of the three to die during 12 months in Baghdad, its the first I remember I each year.
This week, here in Utah, where Brian once trained and competed as part of the Army Athlete program as a bobsledder, its been dumping a ton of snow. This week, we're also expectantly waiting for our first daughter to be born any day now. Its nice sometimes how all these big events and reminders in life stack up. Yes, there's still a lot of sorrow and far more I imagine for Brian's immediate family and closest friends than me, but there's also a tremendous amount of potential for, and actualized joy. Life is not, I've learned in the last nine years, as easy as having a good or a bad experience. My year in Iraq was both one of the greatest and the worst years of my life.
Certainly the world would be a better place if Brian was still in it, but certainly the world is a better place because he was here, at least for a little while.