Clichés are clichés for a reason
You don’t know what you have until it’s gone.
I woke up this morning on a comfy hotel bed filled with comfy pillows next to my comfy husband. I want to say that he looked at me with hesitation or sadness in his eyes, but I was too tired to notice anything off about his demeanor. He said he had bad news to tell me, and I was expecting something small: my favorite brunch restaurant was closed for the day, he used up all of the hotel soap already, or we had to check out earlier than expected. Instead, he told me as calmly and as matter-of-factly as he could that one of our friends from our old platoon died the night of Independence Day from cancer. I looked at him, dumbfounded and a little amused, half expecting him to burst out in laughter to let me know that he was simply joking, but of course it was never a joke to begin with, so I was left in a complete state of shock.
This friend and I had a different type of dynamic when we were deployed. I loved and loathed him. He was my big brother; he came to my CHU to check up on me when I was sick for 3 straight days and he covered for me when I lost my J-arm during a night mission by acquiring another one. He talked to me about his wife and his two daughters, and he taught me about the importance of ‘I love you’ presents, which he sent them on a regular basis to let them know how much he missed them. He was also an unapologetic asshole when he wanted to be one. We had arguments and fights that sometimes ended with a lot of cursing and crying, but we both knew that making up and becoming friends again was never out of the question.
As I sleepily shuffled my way to the bathroom, I started to cry. I cried for the person we lost, I cried for the friend I thought was always going to be there and I cried for the time we no longer had. I cried because I didn’t get to say goodbye.
Clichés are clichés for a reason because they perfectly summarize our feelings into unforgettable one-liners and because at one point, we all realized that grief is the same for everyone in the sense that we will all experience it one day. Fuck the should’ve would’ve could’ves, and fuck the what ifs. My biggest regret was not reaching out to him before he passed away. So, don’t take people for granted; you’ll never know the last time you’ll see a place or a person; you don’t know what you have until it’s gone.