I guess I should be out watching a parade or filling up on free Applebee’s appetizers. At the very least I could enjoy my traditional Band of Brothers marathon and destroy some carry-out pizza. But I just want to see Ryan. Today reminds me of him.
Ryan and I went through basic training together. We were the only Californians in the squad and we hit it off immediately. Upon graduation, we exchanged email addresses and parted ways. He would be stationed in Europe, while I wound up in Georgia.
I’m notoriously bad at keeping in touch with people. Constantly moving between countries, college programs, jobs, and military units hasn’t actually made this any worse, it just magnifies it. I fell into this trap with Ryan. We talked a handful of times in the following years but largely fell out of touch.
Soon after returning from Iraq, I learned that Ryan had died in Afghanistan one month prior. It happened on a patrol with two only weeks left on a 15-month deployment. Ryan left behind a wife and a young child.
It almost didn’t seem real. He couldn’t have died on a volunteer patrol with two weeks left in Afghanistan, could he? With a wife and young child? Those things don’t happen outside of movies.
I hadn’t heard from him in almost a year. There was no closure. I know I can’t bring him back or change anything, but just being able to grab some burgers and catch a football game with him feels like it would fix everything. I don’t want to mourn, celebrate, remember, or anything else. I just want to see my friend again.
I miss you Ryan.
While writing, this article about Ryan’s former base being named after him cheered me up.