It's been a couple of months, but I remembered that I had not typed about my family friend Angel who died in Iraq. My dad contacted me when I was at work when he found out. It shook me. I had closer friends who served and had survived intact with only mental or emotional scars. One even joked "I have to do these stupid post-trauma sessions". Angel did not have that burden as he paid the ultimate sacrifice. My first words to my dad were that I hoped Angel had not married his girlfriend prior to leaving, but he did. A young war widow, and there have been countless young war widows through the ages. My next thoughts were to his mom who had done so much to protect him.
Angel was a good soccer player, a good guy, a loving son & brother, and a guy who gave back to the community. He had benefitted from local rec programs, and he gave back by volunteering in the youth leagues. He joined the Marines to earn money to finish school. He had some credits, but the financial burden was getting too high. His mom was so proud he was going to college as she had sacrificed a lot for him and his sister. When I found out the Marines, I thought "oh sh*t, why couldn't he have signed up with the Air Force or duty on a submarine in the Navy". He was there 2 months, that's all.
My favorite Angel memories were when he and his sister would say my sister and I were 'tv kids', we looked like the white people they put on tv shows. I'd tease him back about being the only Hispanic boy in Maine. Teachers would say he should have been shaving at age 11. His mom would interject that she had a mustache at age 11, too. Angel and his family would quiz me on my Spanish, and I remember how when I got back from taking college Spanish courses they said, "it must be working, you can keep up with us now". Whenever he did the sign of the cross, he'd grab his cross after and kiss it. Those are moments I will not forget.
Angel's mother lost her oldest son years ago in an accident, and to have to bury two sons is a pain I hope to never know. My heart goes out to you Ana, and I hope you can find some peace. I know from his mom that it was an IED that took him. I know there are still parts of him there. Just like those parts, there are bits of sound, smells, images of him in my memory that will never leave. I just hope that your soul, like the souls of so many young men that have gone off to war to not return home alive, is at peace.