Saturday, September 12, 2015

Three Years Later

Every year is a little less painful.  I've started to figure out my cycle of dealing with anniversaries.

Two days out:  constant, repetitive panic attacks.
One day out:  quiet crying, no panic attacks.
Day of:  some crying, gathering with friends to lay flowers and tell stories about the dead, laughter.
Day after:  back to relative normal.

Laying flowers at the memorial wall with friends is the most cathartic thing I've found.  There's a few moments of silence, some crying, then we split into smaller groups to catch up.  People bring their kids and compare notes on new assignments.  We meet new people who weren't able to make it in previous years.  Promises are made to get beers after work some time, though beers are rarely gotten in the coming months.  Some leave notes and photos of children whose godfather was killed that horrible day.

We took photos to send to friends who couldn't make it that day.  As we posed, someone yelled out, "Oh shit, I'm not supposed to smile, this is a sad event!"  Of course we all laughed and smiled for the next photo, which ended up being the best one of the bunch.  We recounted stories of pranks pulled, jokes told, unbelievable experiences together that are par for the course in our line of work.

Every tragedy creates a brotherhood of survivors.  Like any group of people, there's some friction and a few people we all wish would disassociate themselves from the rest of us.  There are subgroups of those who never served in Libya but knew the dead, those who knew Chris or Sean better, those who served in Libya and were not allowed to return after the attacks.  But mostly it's a group of people united by good memories of those we've lost and a shared sense of grief.  It's nice to have those safety nets around the world.