Wednesday, May 19, 2010
A Brotherhood Leif Understood
Yesterday we had a technician here to do the annual maintenance on the air conditioning system. When he was finished, Peter told him to go into my office where I was writing a check for the service. He immediately noticed the flag case with the folded flag, the ceremonial shell casings and Leif's photos and insignia. He could have chosen to ignore it. He could have said nothing, but he didn't. He said, "Did you lose a son?"
I was surprised. I'm not used to that happening. I keep Leif's photo, the flag case and the memorial candles from Darlene and Marcus and Cordula and her family in my office, not on "public" display in the living room, so it's rare than anyone but a family member sees them. It's a private area for private feelings. But here he was, this stranger, who recognized what that flag case meant and asked me about it. I told him yes, but that he was not killed in battle. I didn't go into detail. In his own way, Leif was killed in battle, his battle with his own demons, his loneliness, his problems. I just said he was a disabled vet. I didn't have to say more.
This man expressed condolences and said he had been in the army for 8 years, had been to Afghanistan. He recognized Leif's insignia, said, "Tenth Mountain Division, right?" He said he had been part of a medevac team and told a little bit about it.
Leif would have liked to talk to him, would have liked to have shared stories with a brother in arms. He would have respected anyone who did medical evacuations.
I hope this young man is whole in body and soul and not suffering from PTSD or depression. I thank him for noticing my son and saying something. It brought tears to my eyes, partly out of a wave of sadness, and partly out of a feeling of some kind of gratitude that someone had noticed Leif and talked to me about it.