11 September 2009

Never Forget That It's Not Just A Game...Iraq, 2007

The loss of a friend is always difficult. It is never easy, painless, or quick.

We stood in ceremony to honor the memory of a good friend, Randy Raabe. You know, it’s funny…the personality attributes that most people don’t (or won’t) appreciate until that person is gone. Today, the brothers and sisters of our unit stood as tall as we could while crying for the loss of our friend.

There’s initial shock, then the slow acceptance. None of us really knew how to act after we received the news of his death. The reaction was simple: awe, shock, and sadness. The fierce set of emotions struck us hard and fast, and as the days progressed, we began to make peace with the situation. Those of us that cried, cried for the loss of his presence, and the hole he took from our world.

I didn’t hold it together through the ceremony. I’ll never know why they chose to make me an usher. One of the hardest things I’ve had to do in a long time was watch my friends cry, and not be able to go to them, to comfort them. Watching Ashley (my roommate), and my friend Drew, speak from the podium about the great loss, the pain, and the memories…there aren’t words. I mean, obviously, they had words. I (uncharacteristically) didn’t have any. I cried throughout the entire service, even as the group dwindled to only our unit.

We watched the slideshow and taped goodbyes that we had labored on since the day the news of his death was given. The Colonel spoke, the Chaplain spoke. We sat in silent, sobbing, supportive reverie until we were allowed to leave. Friends of those who were close to this lager-than-life man hugged us, held us close, said the normal things.

My friend Tanya (who is Mortuary Affairs, and worked in the Mortuary services before coming into the Army) told me once:“I never tell people that their loved one is in a better place, that it was God’s will.” That stuck with me. Although meant well, they are trite clich├ęs.

This was a huge blow to morale. Slowly but surely, our lives have begun to return to normal. We breathe in and out. We eat, sleep, shower, and laugh, as Operations Enduring and Iraqi Freedoms rage on.



Jayne Martin said...

What an eloquent expression of your feelings for your friend. I'm so very sorry for your loss. Hugs...

Tawnia said...

When someone leaves this earth, there is a hole. A place of emptiness that no other thing or person can inhabit. Even though time passes and you heal, the hole is never filled. The world is just... well, different:(
Much love and respect to all of his loved ones, and for those who continue to serve our country (cuz I am too much of a chicken shit to do it myself:)
We owe all that we have and all that we are to you xoxoxoxo

BAOompa said...

Thank you.

LucyCooper said...

What an amazing and heartbreaking post. I agree with you friend Tanya, too. The words often fail us when things like this happen. But you did an amazing job conveying this story.

Kristi Stevens said...


You should write more about your experience in Iraq and the military. We need solid, eloquent, and beautiful voices like yours to give these two wars meaning to those of us who have not been personally touched by them. Thank you for this. It was wonderful.


Ashley said...

RIP Raabe we love you!!!