Over the course of the weekend, there was a singular death of an American troop in Afghanistan.
In consideration of the lives that have been lost since the "war on terror" began, a small number. In reality, much, much more than that.
I didn't hear of this death as I usually do, half-listening to CNN, my emotions numbed to the reality of what each loss means. I heard of this death from my sister, who called me at 12:48 a.m. this morning. She paused before she spoke, which made my heart leap.
"We got a bad phone call." I sat up straight in bed as I listened to her faltering voice.
"Why?" I had questioned, "Tell me."
"Because M was killed."
I listened to her crying, and we sat whispering in the dark, speaking in hushed tones of the horror of it; the car pulling up the driveway, (did his parents hear it approaching and know what would follow?) the knocking, the hesitancy with which they probably opened the door, at that hour, the most likely instantaneous realization of what those men standing in front of them meant. The rate at which your world could crash around you.
I thought of my nephew, how inconsolable I would be were this fate his. I thought of my children, how I was unsure if I could move on, having to say goodbye to them, having to think of how they died, having to wonder what it was for.
I've used my blog to speak of how I feel of this war; to mock the president with FARK headlines and dictionary definitions, a counter of the costs of this war keeping a running tally of the fiscal expenses. Those expressions seem trite and small now.
It's one thing to speak of it from a distanced space, it's something different to speak of it while imagining the gravel crunching under the feet of the men knocking on your door to tell you your son is dead, imagining your phone ringing to make you aware that the child you held and boy you played with is no more.
The ripple effect of his death will exist forever; multiply that by all the others lost, and what is that number? I don't know the exact answer, but I do know that it adds up to all of us.