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.