"Let it Be"
By Anna Meier
I am young, very young by many people’s standards. I am at times overly suspicious, other times overly naïve, often unable to classify my thoughts in one of the two categories. What seems clear to me today is that the world we are living in is increasingly dangerous, traveling down a murky road of black and white that colors the spaces that should be shaded with gray. Close-mindedness and hate have displaced much of what should be filled with loving compassion for fellow individuals. What seems to cross creed and country is the loss of someone that has affected our lives.
Yesterday my brother showed up on our doorstep with tears on his face, squeezing out the words that his best friend, Jeremy, had been killed in action in Afghanistan. As I watched his sadness unfold and let the insensibility of the tragedy sink in, I realized that the war had finally come to Kansas City, right to my door, in fact.
That he died doing something important does not seem to soothe the yanking of the heartstrings or the internal scream of poignant pain surely being felt by his wife, family, brothers, comrades. The boy that I knew, playing his acoustic guitar in my family’s backyard, enjoying a game of Spoons in our kitchen on a snow day, having his marriage ceremony celebrated by my dad, spent the last seven years since I have seen him becoming one of the few good men this world could claim. He moves on from this world of hatred and love, misunderstanding and kindness, misery and ecstasy, into whichever existence lies beyond, robbing his son of the terrific father he would be, his wife of a husband, his family, friends, and brothers of a man filled with warmth and undying loyalty.
After a soldier spends a certain amount of time in the military, completing multiple tours safely, it seems we ascribe a sense of invincibility to him. This devastating event is unfortunately a reminder of death’s wide and indiscriminate reach, particularly in the battleground that has become the Middle East.
I am struck with the heaviness of this tragedy, carrying around a painful knot of tears clamped on the back of my throat all day. I’ve sporadically cried a few times today, while shopping for gifts or feeding my dog. What saddens me most is the knowledge that the sadness I feel over his death is infinitesimal in comparison with what those who were close to him must be dealing with.
For many of us it is easy to forget about this war, being reminded occasionally of its presence as we drive by a house with a yellow ribbon tied around the tree in the front yard. Jeremy’s family and friends will never know that respite, knowing his face in the smile of his baby boy, carrying around the imprint he left on their souls like a stone in their pocket, taking it out frequently to examine its weight and shape.
I wish there was something I could do or say to lift the weight of pain from those who were lucky enough to know Jeremy best or to bring back the life that that will be achingly missed by so many. All I can do is hope that those closest to him will find again the comfort once known from finding a home in his heart—that an inner peace will come to them on the coattails of time.
In the cloudy confusion that accompanies the incomprehensibility of a time like this, we ask for an answer that may never come. The world is dark today.
Jeremy, may you have nestled yourself comfortably within those you love, finding rest in them.
A native of Weatherby Lake and graduate of the Park Hill school system, Jeremy Katzenberger, 26, was killed wile serving in his eighth tour of duty overseas.