The Serenity of Justin Furstenfeld’s “Blue October”

If you don’t know who Justin Furstenfeld is by now, you will know his name and better yet who he is and what he does after this.

Who is Justin Furstenfeld?

Well one could say he is an Artist, a Writer or better yet an Author, but he is also a musician, the lead singer of Blue October, a guitarist and so much more; but that isn’t who Justin is in itself, that is just what he loves to do, what he has a passion for and the purpose he was given to light up the world with his gifts by expressing the truth to his life. Who Justin really is, is a Father, a Husband, a Brother, a Friend, but most of all an inspiration for all of those who have had the pleasure to know him either personally or as a fan, a supporter, even as a listener to the art and beauty he provides us with.

Justin age 42 was born December 14th, 1975, and currently resides in San Marcos, Texas. He has a brother Jeremy Furstenfeld (The Drummer of Blue October), he is married to his wife Sarah and he has three children, Blue Reed (from his previous marriage) in which his Album “Any Man In America” was dedicated too, than he has his two children with his wife Sarah, Sayde Belle and Gunner Black.


But, who is Blue October?

If you know who Justin Furstenfeld is, than you probably know he is the lead singer of the alternative rock band Blue October, along side his brother Jeremy Furstenfeld (Drummer) and Ryan Delahoussaye a multi-instrumentalist. They created Blue October back in 1995 in Houston, Texas. The band has accomplished eleven Top Forty singles within eight albums, not to mention their Platnium album Foiled in 2006. Some of their hit singles include “Hate Me”, and “Into the Ocean” from Foiled , “Calling You” from History for sale, and “I Hope You’re Happy” from their newest album I Hope You’re Happy, among what I would say should be many, many more. You see Blue October isn’t just a band, a group, or even just a family, they are healing, compassion and beauty, because their music speaks truth, pain, suffering and all around life experience.

Blue October
On an interview with Salute Magazine back in April Justin Furstenfeld said,

“I had to think of some clever little name for a band when I was like 18-19 and October always seemed like the time in my life when something huge would happen. Something big and drastic would change. I was always a melancholy kid, listening to The Smiths and The Cure and stuff like that. October was just the season of change. It just wrapped it up in a nutshell. Blue October just sounded mellow and moody. No deep-seeded meaning, just the color and month together.”
I love this statement, so simple, so true, while packed with an immense amount of meaning, maybe Justin didn’t realize back then, but now after all of his life experience I feel as though there is a time for that meaning to come to light and shine. I see it, can you?

For you to truly know Blue October you must learn what their music does for many of us, let alone what Justin expresses through his voice, from which he has experienced in life and much of what it has to offer. You must learn that music isn’t just something you listen too, but rather an outlet to experience, relate or even learn from the truth that lies within ones passion, such as Justin and Blue October.

I first encountered Blue October in 2006 at the age of 21, the year they released their


album Foiled. Life was still young for me, yet I had already been through my fair share in life from my childhood experiences; from various memories of neglect, abuse and the feeling of being unwanted by those who gave me life. These memories consisted of being kidnapped, being held against my will due to my biological mothers poor choices. But that wasn’t it, I was sexually abused, exposed to drugs and alcohol, left to fend for myself, and forgotten as if I were nothing.

The list goes on and on, but that’s not to say my life was full of negative moments, because with the bad always comes the good, and that good was my grandparents, they gave me a second chance at living a life full of love, compassion and warmth as a family.

All of this plus more happened before I was 10 years old, in which I moved from Purump, Nevada to Portland, Oregon with my Grandpas Sister, due to my Grandma having Colon Cancer. You see even though my shit storm had ended for but a moment, it wasn’t over, now I was losing the only people who ever cared for me, while getting ready to start over once again, in which I was adopted by my great Aunt and Uncle. But life became good again, besides the various issues that came from my childhood, anxiety, depression, and other psychological issues, but I did surprisingly well at hiding it, or maybe people just didn’t notice my suicidal tendencies.

But I went through what most everyone experiences as a child, social status, boy likes girl, girl likes someone else, I had bullies and I just didn’t really fit in, I was the shy kid, the sensitive one, the hopeless romantic and someone who dreamt of true love, yet I was the boy who was undesired.

Finally high school ended, now I was a young adult and you could say due to childhood trauma I was lost, I was misguided and I didn’t know who I was. I had fallen into a group that didn’t have the best influence and it led me down a path of poor choices, a bad relationship with a cheater, liar and thief, while living a lifestyle that wasn’t really me. But I had found Blue October in these years, their lyrics flowed through my existence, my struggles, and my weaknesses as a lost soul. I had became an instant fan, at the local bar I would play their album Foiled as I would play pool with a local man who had a physical disability, one arm was dramatically shorter than the other giving him limited mobility, but guess what, he kicked my ass every time while I absorbed the words of Justin Furstenfeld as they flew through the bar into my ears “Hate me today, hate me tomorrow…” . All the while getting my drinks from the cute bartender, “Mouse” was her nickname I think, either way she was a good talk, with a great attitude who loved Blue October as much as I did.

But life got heavy you could say, the life I was living was no longer good for my health and I had to make a choice, go further down the rabbit hole or join the military and start a new life once again, a reboot you could say. Well I probably wouldn’t be here if I went down the rabbit hole, so yes I left it all behind for a new beginning, a new chapter and a new life.



Before we get started I thought I share some insight into the sacrifice I myself have given in my life, at the cost of something greater than what I currently had, though sometimes sacrifice involves risk, it gives us two paths,

Which one do we go down? We might ask ourselves.

But that depends on so many variables, our mindset being the biggest one of them all, let alone the stage we are at within life.

With that being said, before we get to my sacrifice, let’s talk about what sacrifice is and look at some examples of what sacrifice looks like.

So one of the definitions of Sacrifice is an act of giving up something valued for the sake of something else regarded as more important or worthy.

Wow!!! So much power, yet so much loss in those words at the cost of sacrifice.

Honestly if you havent realized it yet, sacrifice is all around us, engrained into us and has been by our side since day one till the day we die. No matter what path you end up on, it is something we all share as life on this planet, or in this existence as a whole.

Now that’s not to say that sacrifice isn’t good, but rather a little bit of both, sometimes we sacrifice for the greater good, or we are forced to sacrifice from the touch of pains grasp, as we experiance loss, suffering or even a piece of who we are. But the fact remains it is apart of us, you, me, and those you don’t even know their name, let alone life in itself.

No joke, look at the planet we live on, did existence not make earth sacrifice a portion of itself within the creation of our existence? by throwing a piece of itself into space to give us the beauty of what we call the moon. We’ll that is one theory anyhow, but nevertheless, sacrifice has been with life since the begining, and will forever be with life as long as something is living or existing.

But we see sacrifice in so many forms, we see it within our own experiences, from those who have taken care of us, those who have stood by our side, those who defend our country, or any country for that fact, we see it in giving life, the plants we grow, the nature we walk through, or even the stars we see in the sky, because correct me if I am wrong, but those stars we look up at, some have already burned out, they are no longer alive, yet the glow of its existence still shines in the sky as we look upon it, pondering about the beauty of this life, not realizing that light burned out long ago.

Now let’s take a look into my life, 33 years of experiences, some good, some bad, but all worth it in the long run. Now I say this because I love my life, yet I ponder what could have been, though I try not to dwell on what could have been, I do appreciate what has become my life. I have no regrets, only missed opportunities, and I accept that because the sacrifice would be that of what I have now.

But let’s go to beginning of my sacrifice, somewhere around the age of 4 back in 1989, a time where I was with my biological-parents for but a moment in my memory, a time where my sacrifice as a child in a harmful situation was spared by my grandparents. I say spared because I as a young child up until the age of 10 had many rough experiences, moments that should have broken my innocence and led me down a path of horrible decisions such as my biological-parents had made. But what could have been my sacrifice was in fact my grandparents, they gave a part of them selves for me to live a happy life versus the situations I was consistently exposed too. Situations that involved neglect, sex, drugs, abuse in the physical form and sexual form, kidnapping and the list goes on and on. My life as a child was full of horrible moments, but also moments that saved me from who I could have been, thanks to those who sacrificed for me to have a better life. Thank you Grandpa and Grandma for everything you did for me, may you rest in peace.

But I’m not going to tell you everything yet, you’ll have to wait for my book for all the details.

But, now I hope you see that my sacrifice was spared, but someone else had to sacrifice in return, and sometimes this doesn’t happen, but for me it did, thankfully. Yet many other times in my life I have had to give in order to get, but also at many different stages in my life, with different ambitions, desires, aspirations and mindsets. Because like many we get blinded by money, possessions, stature and so much more, I know I was anyhow.

It’s like the old saying “I wish I knew what I know now, back then.”

I was lost at young age, and even though my grandparents had helped spare my innocence, there was still a darkness that lied dormant inside me from the experiences I had endured. Though it didn’t affect me then, it affected me later, causing me to have difficulty in finding myself let alone understanding who I truly am. A sacrifice I had not realized until much later. But I got stuck down this path of false aspirations, while sacrificing so much along the way only to give it all up in the end, as if it were wasted time and sacrifice. But it wasn’t, these moments hold purpose now, they gave me something at the sacrifice of living a life that wasn’t mine.

Like I said sacrifice is all around us, I sacrificed my freedom for the military, I sacrificed my sanity to go to war for you and all those I love and the way of life I love. I sacrificed for a relationship, by taking on responsibilities of becoming a step parent, in time ofcourse, but nevertheless I gave my previous life up for a life of sacrificing as a parent, and a husband because that is what you do for the ones you love. We even see sacrifice for friends and family, as a brother, sister, son, daughter, uncle, aunt and the list goes on and on. We have all see it and lived it, so don’t fight it, don’t hate it, just accept it, because at some point you will have to sacrifice.

I know this seems vague, but all I’m trying to show you is the many ways we sacrifice in life, from a young age to the end of our life. But sacrifice has worth, it has value because whether the sacrifice comes from good experiences or bad, in the end that sacrifice holds meaning, that sacrifice was given for something greater. For instance I would give my life for my Daughter, for my sacrifice holds worth in the fact she could live a full life at the cost of her father’s, if the situation called for that of course. But it is all in our mindset, how we perceive this life, the meaning it holds and the cost it takes to get what you need in this life. When you understand that your sacrifice was for something greater, than can you move from the darkness that sacrifice blinds us with, only to see the beauty of what sacrifice has given us.

Stuck in a Rut called Life.

Life is a fickle subject, so many ups and downs and no matter who you are, we all experience this wonderful ride we call life. People say our existence can be positive, negative, or even somewhere in-between. But people also say we have no control over fate, or destiny which in return boils down to life, and I’d say

“that’s a paradox.”

We as humans are completely in control, which is what sets aside from the animals, because you and only you choose your path, you choose whether you succeed or fail, time and time again in all aspects of life. Existence is the experience of living and if you understand that, then you’re on your way to passion and purpose within your life.
Now from the beginning of our life to about the age of eighteen, give or take is where we all tend to be close to one another, not as in friendships, but as believers, as dreamers, and people who constantly contemplates the future, while looking to the stars. Better yet we were visionary’s and we were able to see the invisible in which is the possibilities to life. Yet the world tells us that our dreams and desires towards what seems to be impossible, are unrealistic as a child, so we try doing something practical such as working a job from nine to five, five days a week, for the next 40 years in order to live in life, versus living life.
Well life for little ole Joesph McDowell was just that. You see that poor kid couldn’t get a break, life would pick him up to only spit him out, time and time again. And he sure was the sweetest of all kids, he’d say

“Yes Ma’am”, “Please” and “Thank you”

and about any other form of manners you could think of. Someone or something sure was looking out for him, because his life was far from a smooth ride we all hope for. Now poor little Joesph had been rejected and forgotten by his parents, he had lived in a foster home for but a moment, travelled from state to state, going from one school to the other, and from family to family. Yet he stayed sweet, he never lashed out and he never broke the rules, he could only love. This poor kid had been abused, kidnapped and put in harm’s way time and time again, but it didn’t matter what life threw at him, he kept moving, he kept dreaming, and he kept reaching for the stars looking for his purpose. But Joesph got to a point where life was about to become even more real, for the path to adulthood was just around the corner. Now keep in mind statistically most kids who endure mass amounts of turmoil tend to get lost in life, they let the negative consume their life and they lose their life. But not for Joesph, he may not be reaching as high for the stars at this point, but he decided to roll with the punches and survive this thing we call life, just for a little while.
Now as we become adults, life gets ready to throw a new set of challenges our way. We need a place to live, which takes money in order to survive, which in return means we need to work, for that takes time, a lot of time, which then makes us exhausted, to do it over and over again for some forty years of life to only hope to retire if you were intelligent and successful enough. And some people are more prepared then others, but then we have some who slip through the cracks, trying to be that dreamer that we all once were, in which society told us won’t get you anywhere in life. But some made it at a young age, while others horribly failed to only go back to surviving. But then some hid, maybe they became poor or maybe rich. But only time can tell when they will show the world how they’re going to live life.
Joesph is now an adult, with a rather smart head on his shoulders, enough to let him survive anyhow. His work ethic is strong, he’s punctual, respectful, loyal, honest and everything an employer could look for. He did what was needed in order to pay his bills and have a little fun, but he was never well off enough to get ahead, but rather he maintained a steady balance of highs and lows. But in his years, he never could seem to stay at a single job, not because he was a bad employee, but rather the same little dreamer he was as a child, he wanted bigger and better, except money took the place of his dreams and aspirations. At this point he was about climbing the ladder for a company, making that good money to live a life with no bounds, but little did he know he was doing part of it right, he was reaching for the stars, the impossible. But he dreamt about the wrong goals, he dreamt to be successful in money, not passion, purpose and life. Or you could say the realistic goals society tells us to have versus the unpractical dreams we think we can achieve.
So, the years went on for Joesph, he had loved, he had lost, he worked ever so hard but to only stay in the same place with lost time. He didn’t have a bad life, but it was below his potential. He enjoyed his time in the military as a Navy Seabee, in which he was a part of the greater good and which he sacrificed his life to get a chance at a better life then what he had. This gave him a third chance to life, but little did Joesph know that he would being going to war, to fight for the freedoms and liberties we have as Americans, to do what most won’t anymore, to once again sacrifice. So time passed by again as he stood still, even though the military had given him a chance to a better life, it had taken a part of his life as well, after the war, after all the death, and poverty he had seen, through all the rigorous training he had endured, and mental anguish of breaking one’s self down in order to build them back up. Even though what he did could and can be respected, that wasn’t enough to stop the shit storm or turmoil he was about to endure.
Joesph had become lost after war, he just wasn’t the same, his life as dreamer had stopped at this point and the negativity which surrounded his life had consumed him. He was still able to provide and survive, but he became a drone working thirteen hour days, to go home and sleep for only a couple hours, while also fighting the demons within his head, which would give him depression, anxiety, anger and not to mention the pain his body endured daily, then to do it all over again and again, day in and a day out. His life was digging deeper and deeper into a rut, that some would say he would never get out of. His life had very little meaning at this point and he was alone. Poor Joesph got stuck in this rut for seven years after war, but a total of fourteen years from the point of childhood. These experiences in his life just would not give him a break.
As Joesph entered his thirties he had a revelation, he decided he was going to take a risk in life once again, so he went to a trade school to learn something new. It was great, it challenged him, and gave him enjoyment for a moment, but the reality was it was just another job, but the risk that was taken to leap for something unsafe was the start to something he would never see coming, change. The work was good, it was easy, it paid well and it was relaxing. Joesph probably could have retired as a Driver, until one night driving home from work, Joesph had been followed by a car, then chased down a back road with curves and bends all around, the slightest turn would be devastating. As Joesph was so close to being home, speeding well above the speed limit and twisting and turning just trying to get away from this car playing dangerous games, he makes a choice to turn down a road, and as a safe driver he puts his turn signal on, hoping once he made this turn he could just get back on his journey to go home and get some sleep after a long night and the other car would just pass on by, but that wasn’t the case. All a sudden time was as if it had stopped, right in front of his eyes, Joesph could see the car coming right for him, with nothing to do but to let time continue as it would “SMACK” the other car drove right into his driver side, hitting the front fender, tire and door. Now Joesph wasn’t a little man, he stood six feet five inches and weighed about two-hundred and forty pounds, yet he was driving a little compact car during this incident, his knees rested in front of the dash, his head right below the roof, it was as if he were a sardine in a tuna can. But adrenaline does wondrous things, in which it allowed him to get out of the car that now lay broken in front of him and the other car sitting there, as if it were taunting him to take revenge on the careless drivers who had affected his life and all that he has worked for. But he didn’t, he decided in his deep voice to take the info that was needed in order to use the law to his benefit. But this would only be another piece to his puzzle as he would sit there in pain, wondering what life had in store for him next.
It wasn’t but shortly after winning his lawsuit towards the auto incident, that he would finish the time it took to heal, but he wasn’t going to, it had only increased the issues he already had from being a disabled veteran, who was already fighting for his benefits from wars effects. So, what was Joesph to do? then he remembered his tution free schooling for time in service and this would be his last option to survive peacefully before having to go back to the mundane job of surviving and hurting in the work force, or find a way to live life. And there he would find that passion he had forgotten about long ago and his eyes would be opened through knowledge, the knowledge of who are you. He would once again reach for the stars, but with an actual direction this time, the direction to his purpose in life.
But he still had one more battle before completing his puzzle to life, he had to learn to accept himself and he had been fighting himself for a long time now, so long that he grew tired of it all. But one thing that was good from all of this pain inside was it became his fuel to his passion, for without it he may never have found himself. But as Joesphs time went on, the negativity in life increased tenfold, the people in this world had begun to lose their minds, kids and young adults no longer had morals and manners, hell even self-respect. Work ethic forget that, let alone the technology that is rotting their brains, they have become dependent on convenience versus knowledge and hard work. We aren’t even going to get into the trends and styles, that’s just gone to shit. People want something for free, or they complain to get their way or to gain equality yet it creates segregation between the people. We have TV stars as the President of the United States, and the list goes on and on. But this negativity had completely consumed Joesph, he had lost positivity in his life, until he said

“No more, I don’t want anything to do with the negativity in myself or life for that matter”

and he chose to let positivity in his life and ignore all that is bad which is consuming through negativity in this world. He chose to live a life of positivity, in order to follow passion to the purpose of his life, he chose to take control and reach for the stars, he decided to see the invisible, the impossible, because visionaries see the invisible and grasp on to the impossible in order to create a reality of passion and purpose.
You see life is about the experience of living, it is the goal in which to live life, and not to just exist. We are to live with life and not against it, and visionaries see this, know this and live this, they live this one life we have, for it passes in the blink of an eye. The experience in which we endure through life are but your puzzle pieces to the big picture that is your life, your passion and your purpose. Some never figure this out, some search all their life for it, and some find it, but those who found it have understanding, they have knowledge, they have life experience, which is what opened their eyes to see the meaning to life, and how to achieve it. But knowing is only half the battle, for it takes planning, it takes goals, hard work and dedication, perseverance and patience, commitment and faith. But don’t wait for tomorrow for there is no guarantee, look for yourself today, because time is precious and we don’t get a second chance at this. Just remember that success isn’t defined by position or money, but the value of your self-worth.

“Be you today not tomorrow.”

“Are you worth it? If so reach for the stars and leave your mark”

Thousand Yard Stare

“I’d like to order a twenty-ounce Black and White Mocha please.” He said to the Barista.
“Would you like whip cream on that?” she said with enthusiasm, as most baristas always do.
“Yes, please” he said with delight, as if the young lady’s enthusiasm had rubbed off on him in that moment.
“and what’s the name for the order?”
Joesph grabbed his mocha, and heads directly to the back of the coffee shop, in the corner, by his favorite window. It was perfect, two chairs placed on each side of a round table, one of which had the best view, he could see the whole coffee shop, while being able to stare out the wall size windows that sat in front of the table. Not too loud, nor was there much foot traffic near his perfect table.
Joesph sat down on the far side of the table, nestled in the corner, away from all the noise; then he would put in his ear buds in his ears, and turn on what he would call, get his mind right music. Then he’d take a sip of his Mocha, and glance around the coffee shop, looking at all the diversity that would come through. Parents with their children, rushing to get some coffee, before they would get back to their hectic life, the businessman rushing through for his morning fix of caffeine, the numerous amount of people running late, while miraculously still having time to stop for their morning coffee, all of them, in and out, no time to stop, just go, go, go, as Joesph would just stare at the world moving around him, lost within the music inside his head. This was his routine every Friday, same time, same spot, same everything.
Joesph continued to stare of into the world, as if he were just a fly on the wall, oblivious to the noise around him, almost like he pushed the mute button on the TV remote. But as he stared off into the distance, something he hadn’t seen the Fridays before, came into the shop; it looked like a fog slowly flowing through the entrance, except this fog was dark, black as night for a matter of fact. It absorbed everything it came in contact with, consuming its existence, the people, the furniture, the light itself. But Joesph didn’t react, nor did anyone else, yet he stared at the darkness directly, where as everyone else acted as if the darkness was non-existent. Yet all Joesph could do was stare, as it crept closer and closer, crawling on the ground as if the darkness was reaching for him, until everything went black, and silence would sing its song, as his music faded away from his ears.


He couldn’t speak, he couldn’t hear, he couldn’t even see, all that existed, was darkness, and silence. But he wasn’t scared, for something familiar seemed to comfort him, almost as if this darkness was a form of solitude, a place to gain clarity.


Then a tap on his shoulder brought everything back, the light, the people, his music, and his perfect spot, the place he would get his mind right. Joesph looked up at the barista.
“How’s your coffee?” she said as he snapped back to reality.

Deaths Curse

Four months into deployment overseas and the war began to take over, as the missiles flew across the sky, falling in various places on base, the sirens screaming the sound of danger approaching, telling us to get to bunkers. This was just a glimpse of my life as SW2 McDowell, that’s what the patch on my chest says anyways. Heck I still can’t get over being called by my last name for eight years. My days consisted of being driver, and sometimes a gunner in the harsh environment of Afghanistan, moving from one base to another. Sometimes down rigorous roads, up steep hill sides through the mountains of Afghanistan, and through small villages made from clay and straw, with no clear signs of electricity; all the while doing this during the darkness of night and sometimes during the scorching daylight.

Most weeks involved explosions near the various bases and fobs (forward operating base) we were at, in this time I had seen death, heard death, smelled death, and feared death, wondering if I would ever go home or even make it home. As war starts to consume you, you try to find a way out, well my way out was going to be my M4 rifle; it could have been so easy, sitting there in my room, alone, with no one to interrupt me, a M4 by my side, with eight clips, thirty rounds in each one, of 5.56 rounds; granted I would only need one to take the pain away, to end it all, you could say “taking the easy way out.” At this point in my life, I had no god by my side, no family besides my brothers and sisters of the armed forces, I had no support but myself to make a choice, life or death.
“Now that’s the kicker isn’t it, with us losing 22-veterans a day to suicide” we all see it, we just choose not to believe it, until it becomes our issue.
It’s not that we don’t have support, or someone to call, it’s that the time we have alone, can be our most vulnerable point, it’s as if once left alone, we get locked in a box, with all the tools needed to give up, it becomes a mental battle, do we choose life or death, do we keeping driving on, or do we kill the engine?
As the night falls, the wind blows the smell of dirt, gunpowder, and death all around, and the sirens scream “take cover”, you stop to think, will this ever end? and if so when? Every day is the same here, somedays are different, but for the most part there is a way of life here, and nothing can stop it. It’s as if you’re in the land of death, where the reapers rome, watching and waiting for their next victim of war. At night while you sleep, the darkness embraces you in a blanket of fear, while during the day darkness confronts you around every corner, always keeping you on your toes, never knowing when your time could be.

misty mort 3
In a world unknown, we have the greatest strength a man or woman could ever find physically, but mentally we weaken as every day passes. Death becomes a part of you, whether you see it, hear it, smell it or think it, it’s there. Living with death everywhere, you begin to change, not much, but just enough for it to lay dormant in you until it finds its moment to attack you from the inside out. You don’t know it yet, but in time this darkness will reveal itself to you little by little, until you become someone who you can’t recognize in the mirror, it’s as if there is two of you, one side good and one side bad. This darkness begins to manifest itself as you, within yourself, where you can see yourself doing things you would never do, but you are helpless to stop it.
People, doctors, family and more never understand a veterans disabilities in a way the veteran can from their experiences of war; unless you experience it, you don’t know, some things are physical, such as amputees, or pains and aches, but the mental side of things is what you don’t understand from my perspective, whether it’s my dreams, or lack of sleep, depression, anxiety, anger and so much more, it all stems off our memories, you can’t erase my mind, or my thoughts, my experiences and memories, and this is the problem because whether it’s a year after this trauma or ten years, when you hear a boom, it takes you back; when you see a flash, it takes you back; there are so many triggers out there, that bring back memories, and every day is different; if it’s an off day for you, it can through you into an episode, sometimes small, sometimes big, sometimes it progresses throughout the day, week or even month. It all stems off memories, which makes this battle forever lasting.
What do you imagine when you think of death? Well what I imagined was what I’d already seen, which is friends and family dying from old age, disease, cancer and such, or the norm you could say, but the most horrific death I’ve seen firsthand was when I was at war.
Three days in and I saw the aftermath of a VBIED (vehicle-borne improvised explosive device,) while in a IED (improvised explosive device) training class, it was as if it were yesterday, standing there seeing two locals outside the wire walking to this spot in front of us about a hundred yards out, not quite knowing what they were doing until they stopped. Then one of them laid a flannel shirt down on the ground, the two men pick up the torso of the man who bombed the base in the VBIED; there were no arms, no legs, and no head on this torso, they picked up this body, laid it in a shirt, wrapped it up, then through it over their back like it was Santa with a bag of presents, then walked away as if nothing happened. If that doesn’t tell you this isn’t a game, I don’t know what does, because this image that’s burnt into my brain, will forever trap apart of myself here in the dessert.
The second time was at night, I was heading to the chow hall like I did every night, except I pushed it off this night, due to getting caught up in a conversation with my roommate, thankfully, because originally, I had planned on leaving thirty mins early, and the walk alone took ten minutes. But on my way to go eat, I heard this sound which I can only describe as a weapon of some sort having a miss fire, then a boom with the sound of something hitting metal. At this point I was nearly there. The missile that fell from the sky had hit the roof of the chow hall, the roof deflected most of it, but what had made it through, killed a 22-year-old EOD kid in the army, face down in his dinner, and a piece of scrap metal hit one of our senior chiefs in his neck, causing him to be life flighted to Germany. Everyone else either took cover, or ran for cover, until it was safe to help, go seek medical attention and get back to our way of things during war.
This one affected me because if I would have left when I wanted to, I might not be here today, and that’s not me procrastinating, that’s the truth, I would have been somewhere in that galley eating, at the mercy of flying metal with the force of death behind it. Not to mention there were plenty of close calls, from the IED explosions either on the road we were driving, bomb scares, and explosions right outside of where we were located, as well as driving through mind fields due to a careless driver, and one of our vehicles being hit by an anti-personnel mine which blew off the front of a tactical vehicle, injuring four of our people. Hell, our battalion even has its very own Forrest Gump, which will forever live with him. I still remember that day, Doc up on the wall, patrolling the perimeter, then wouldn’t you know it, we started receiving fire. Well guess what, Doc got shot in his ass. It wasn’t funny at the moment, but when everything was all said and done, we sure had one hell of a laugh. But this was just some of many incidences, it was the way of life at war.
Then lastly the death in our minds, from the nightmares of everything we have seen and experienced firsthand, the fear of dying and never coming home, how we could possible die in this country surrounded by death. Which all of this eventually manifest into death personally on the home front. An example would be, let’s say, driving. I always have these thoughts of dying in a car crash, sometimes by my own dewing, but other times by other drivers, then what I would do in my final moments of life, who would I call first, would I walk my bloody mangled body home to say my final words to my loving wife, my beautiful daughter, and my smart boy, what would I say? You see the thing is death lurks around the corner waiting for our moment; sometimes I feel as though I have a glimpse or an idea of how it will happen, but when? How bad? We fear what we can’t control, the mind being one of those things. Death is a very vivid picture in a veteran’s mind, whether it be the past, present or future. Many of us have seen death first hand, our lives revolved around the ultimate sacrifice for your country; not that we want to die, but that we would gladly lay our lives down for the people and country we love, so they may live a life of freedom.
“Isn’t that what we do for love? We sacrifice.”