Sedikit Lebih Dalam dari Biasa

in Iraq i met a guy named Jake Yelner. He was an Airman from California and lived in SD. We clicked in about 30 seconds, the crazy kind of connection that just doesn’t happen very often. A meshing of souls, the completion of a perfect story, the final dab of paint, etc.

He left for the States, we emailed a bit here and there, and then he deployed again. To Afghanistan. To Bagram, actually.

I had a bad dream  on April 28th, 2008 about a friend of mine getting blown up. I was sitting on a tarmac in the desert at night, watching people load a flag covered casket onto a plane. i woke up panicked, couldn’t breath, couldn’t speak, terrified.

A week later, May 9th, I was sitting at work, checking my email and casually flipping through a newspaper. (I like to torture myself by reading the names of the people who died in support of OEF or OIF. I’ve always felt a need to make myself do it – the surviving family members are forced to be strong, so i’m pretty sure i can honor the dead by reading their names and learning a little about them.)

My heart stopped when I looked down and read “SrA Jonathan Yelner – KIA April 29, 2008” I thought no way, no fucking way. must be a fluke of a similar name. I searched it online and his face popped up. fuck. I sat there for a while, reading his paragraph over and over.

24 years of life, laughter, swear words, drama, happiness, beauty, reduced to a little 4 sentence blurb. Done, just like that. fuck.

i didn’t even realize i was crying until someone pushed a box of tissues into my hand, didn’t realize i was being moved until someone sat me down in another room. the chaplain came, wopwopwoppped, left. i went home, drank myself silly.

another friend of mine from Iraq (all the way back from basic training actually), Johann, wanted me to go to Jakes grave with him. Meet his family and his loved ones maybe, but i couldn’t do it. i just couldn’t do it.

this year when I got the notice i was heading to Bagram, Afghanistan i immediately thought of Jake.

Most US military bases dedicated buildings or roads or monuments to the troops that we lose. Johann had told me that a chowhall had been named after our friend – you have no idea how much i prayed it wouldn’t be the one i was going to be eating at every day.

it wasn’t. i’ve been quietly going around base, finding the different chowhalls, trying to find his. i’d been hoping that i could find it on my own, where i could grieve quietly. i eat almost all my meals with my office – and while i do love them, i didn’t want to be around their loud chatter whenever i did find it.

well, i finally did. On the 9th actually. i’d ridden along with a chick friend of mine who needed a wingman to a corner of base i hadn’t been to before. when we arrived i was bored so i started walking around in circles, looking at signs on buildings.

one looked familiar, from pictures i’d seen. my heart started going crazy, my hands got clammy, i felt like i was choking, but i had to walk over and check.

there Jake was, smiling pretty from the sign in front of his very own chowhall. funny thing was he was always skinny as fuck, so i don’t know if naming a place with crappy food in it was really appropriate, but who cares right?

love you man, just wanted to let you know i haven’t forgotten. just wanted to honor you a little.

SrA Jake Yelner

SrA Jake Yelner

~ by manjamanis on October 14, 2009.

One Response to “Sedikit Lebih Dalam dari Biasa”

  1. suz, this was a really touching peice. its funny how people honor those that have passed. some do big, great, outlandish things as if they are trying to make up for something that they wanted to do or say but never got the chgance. while others keep to themselves. they hold on so tight that they almost squeeze the feelings out of themselves. they almost become emotionless to the situation. we all show our feelings for those lost in our own special way, wether we know it or not. im glad you did find that chow hall. jus sad that i wasnt there to share it with u. i know it was your moment and u wanted to grieve on your own, but friends would never let u carry a load of this magnitude by yourself. i never met the guy, but jus from how u spoke of him, he is already a friend of mine. i think u have honored his memory in the best manner of which you know. and i think he would b happy with just that.

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