A Friend Gone, A Heavy Heart

What’s the right way to pay tribute? Is it a post? Is it a picture? A poem? How should it be done… and done properly? I don’t need the condolences or attention, but I think it appropriate to say something. The world is rife with hate, but when you lose someone you bonded with, even in a most minuscule way, how do you not express the grief? Perhaps a story.

My heart is heavy tonight as the news trickles in. I don’t know who knows what; so, I choose to respect privacy.

Bonds forged in the Army are hard to explain. How did a Fire Support NCO get to be cool with a pilot, outside of the routine, “Hi” or the pilot dreaded salute, that is? My bond began with an ass chewing… an artillery Sergeant First Class getting onto a Warrant Officer pilot for having his hands in his pockets. It’s strange how even the tiniest of friendships begin. 10-12 months after that, while standing in the smoke shack of Iraq with a stogey, this Warrant Officer stands in front of me and starts laughing. The conversation went something like this.

“What’s up, sir?”
“I’m glad to see it.”
“See what?”
*he laughs*
“See what, sir?”
*slowly and deliberately, he removes his hands from his pockets and holds them up. And all i could do was look at mine, and start laughing*
“Good to see you finally drank the koolaid.”

I’ll cherish that moment. It’s a strange moment, but as I’ve transitioned in and out of environments since then where hands in the pockets is tolerated, I’ve thought about it. I’ve even shared that story. Now, I sit here rolling into 1SG life and once again yelling at people for having their hands in their pockets. Maybe I’ll lay off tomorrow…. I may even slip mine in there in a sort of strange internal remembrance.

I’m gonna miss you, sir…. brother…. especially as the opportunity to slip in and say “Hi” has passed. My heart hurts right now. Rest easy, my friend.



Published by Shaun M. Wilkinson

Poet. Author.

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