I chose to live 

Yesterday was the 11th anniversary of the death of one of my childhood best friends Neil Santoriello. He died on 13 August 2004 in Khallidiyah, Iraq. I used to commemorate this every year in some form or fashion. There were some years that I admittedly forgot all about it until the date had passed; I had got consumed in my own life and everything that was going on with me at the time.

The 10th anniversary I didn’t forget. And yesterday I also didn’t forget. And after a long day at work and doing other various chores I wanted to sit down and write here on the blog about Neil – some soliloquy I’d come up with while pacing in my apartment and then sit down and hammer out on the keyboard.

But I didn’t.

I knew that I wanted to do this, and I had thought all day at work about Neil and that day, and the day his wife Lisa called me to tell me Neil had been killed. I recalled my own two deployments and other soldiers and friends who had also been lost. Yet I had things to do, and I was shoving the notion that I was failing them by not commemorating Neil in some way to the back of my mind.

And when I was about to go to sleep I said to myself “ah, shit I was going to write a blog on Neil but never got around to it.”  Because I was busy.

Because I was busy. Because I was living life. And I thought about it for a second and then felt more at ease. I had spent Neil’s death day thinking about him but still going on about my daily routine. I had to go to work; I’m in the process of trying to become an adult and buy a house (I know home ownership doesn’t make someone and adult but I feel like a semi-failure at life for a few reasons). I had a lot of things to do.

And honestly, I think Neil would want it that way. He would want me to live my life and to be the best ‘me’ that I can be. And I think he’d be proud that I was seeing realtors and trying to buy a house. And that after my abysmal failure of a sham marriage I was digging myself out of debt. He wouldn’t want me wallowing in sadness thinking about the good times we had and being a sad sack that they are no more.

I know I wouldn’t want that if the situation was reversed. I’d appreciate that I was being thought about routinely. And that my friends still cared. But more that they had moved on. Not forgotten – remembered but moved on in my place to do what I no longer could.

So the short of it is that yesterday, instead of deciding to wallow in sadness and being forlonre – I chose to do something different. I chose to reflect but not to dwell. I chose to focus on staying on top of my life.

I chose to live.

About anotherwarriorpoet

Mathew Bocian served as a Captain in the United States Army with the Stryker Brigade and was deployed to Mosul and Tal'Afar in 2004 - 2005, and to Baghdad for The Surge in 2007 - 2008. He left the Army in 2012 and now uses his poetry as a way to heal from the traumas of war, while attempting to express to readers the realities of war. He is the recipient of the Bronze Star and Purple Heart, and holds a master's from the Graduate School for Public and International Affairs at the University of Pittsburgh.
This entry was posted in War Stories & Vignettes and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to I chose to live 

  1. You said it perfectly, Mat.


  2. robakers says:

    Good for you sir. We cant live life looking backwards and he sounds like the kind of friend that would kick your ass if you were wasting your time by being in a state of constant mourning. I had to work through some things like you and I have come to the realization that the best way to remember a friend is by eating a steak that I cooked, sharing a beer with a friend, and having sex with someone that I love.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. “And honestly, I think Neil would want it that way.”

    I think you’re absolutely right.


  4. Pingback: Winds of Change: Pages From My Pocket | The Ghosts of Tal'Afar

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s